Given how urgent the need to address climate change has become, it can feel as we should be doing more than we are and that pressure can feel paralysing, stopping businesses (especially small to medium-sized ones like ours) from doing anything at all.
But the scientific evidence is unequivocal…that is not an option.
In fact, the collective impact of the changes small and medium-sized businesses make is significant and often it’s easier for us to make changes than larger, global businesses. So here at TEL we’ve given a lot of thought to what we can do to contribute to reversing the impact of climate change and ensuring the planet we leave for future generations is healthy and habitable.
So, as it’s Earth Day, TEL is delighted to publish our first UK Sustainability Report.
TEL’s approach to sustainability
The idea of ‘sustainability’ asks businesses to consider the products and services they sell, the resources required to do it and what actions could be taken to reduce the long term environmental and social impact of their commercial existence.
At TEL our very raison d’etre is to reduce our customers’ energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Briefly, although science is at the forefront of the efforts to combat climate change, it is also part of the problem because laboratories are extremely energy-intensive, consuming 10 times more energy and at least four times more water [per unit area] than office spaces. This is largely due to the energy-intensive equipment required by modern research methods and the amount of ventilation labs required to operate safely and the most energy-intensive equipment in the laboratory is the fume cupboard.
For more than 50 years TEL has been working to reduce unnecessary energy consumption associated with the use of fume cupboards in laboratories. Our Variable Air Volume (VAV) airflow controller, for example, reduces the volume of air taken from a fume cupboard when it’s not being used (and the sash is closed), reducing energy usage by up to 85% and substantially reducing energy bills.
But we know it’s not just about what we do but how we do it and that meant looking at a range of issues from what our products are made of and our suppliers’ green credentials through to our working practices and how we behave as individuals.
Making sustainable change
The process began with working out where we were at, identifying areas where we could make immediate short-term changes before moving on to put in place a strategy for the more complicated longer-term changes we could and should be making. Critically we didn’t consider sustainability in isolation, instead making it an integral part of a wider approach that considers staff health and wellbeing, cost management and waste reduction.
Luckily with a company full of problem-solvers, we weren’t short of ideas.
Here are some areas where we’ve already made good progress:
- Offsetting the unavoidable use of non-recyclable materials in the manufacture of our products with initiatives to reduce and recycle cardboard, paper and other packaging materials.
- The use of underfloor heating at our premises, using between 15 and 40% less energy than standard radiators.
- The installation of an electric car charging port in the TEL car park for staff and customers to use.
- The restriction of business mileage to an absolute necessity. Where business travel is required, we encourage staff to travel together, and we use local suppliers where possible to reduce the mileage to us from other companies.
- We donate all the pallets we receive deliveries on to the local community who use them for a range of activities for small building and repairing projects on a local farm.
But we know we have much more to do and we’ve set some meaningful and, we think, achievable targets for the future including reducing our water and energy usage by 5% over the 12 months from January 1st, 2022 and moving to a fleet of electric vehicles by 2025.