Environmental strategy! What's our plan? Ben Paul  - Part 1

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Environmental strategy! What's our plan? Ben Paul - Part 1

Dear Fencers,

I am Ben Paul one of the owners of Leon Paul. I have become increasingly aware of the environmental issues we face in today’s world. As I have read more about these issues, I have become more concerned about our future on this planet. The next generation will have a colossal job fixing the problems of the past. I often feel helpless and that everything seems so daunting that it is easier to get on with the next email and to try to forget about it.

Over the years I have taken steps to improve my ecological footprint. Examples include: consuming less dairy, eating less meat, taking fewer flights and using more renewable energy. As a company we have done the obvious things, for example: recycling more, using products or chemicals that do not harm the environment, not wasting food, turning off lights when not in use etc.

Finally, I decided that it was time for not only me, but also the company to tackle this head on.

This year the FIE is also promoting the concept of protecting our planet. So I chatted to current World Championship silver medallist Marcus Mepstead about this subject when he was in London. You can watch some of the conversation here:

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

 ― Theodore Roosevelt

If you have read some of my previous posts you will already know that we love the idea of ‘moonshot’ thinking. This is a process that reinvents and revolutionises problem solving. How might this work for my problem?

The first task was to talk to my teams and get their thoughts, feedback and ideas as to how we might tackle this. Some of the best ideas come from where you least expect them!

The next was to set a time scale. We felt that one year is long enough to make a significant change and short enough to make real visible progress. The next step is to identify critical areas of the business that can be improved.

Packaging

Transport

  • Reduce transport of bought-in materials
  • Reduce space, volume and weight of shipped goods
  • Help reduce staff travel
  • Offer incentives for green transport (free electricity for staff and customer electric transport)

Energy

  • Use less energy (insulation, heating, cooling and manufacturing)
  • Only use renewable energy firms

Manufacture

  • Repair, maintain personal fencing gear
  • Use eco-friendly chemicals in the production
  • Use locally sourced materials where possible

Waste

  • Become a no paper office. Do we really need a printer?
  • Reduce food waste
  • Eliminate single use plastic bottles at events (vending machine)
  • Reduce cardboard and plastic from external suppliers

As we evaluated and critiqued this problem, we began to realise the size of this project. As discussions continued it became clear that this needed a figurehead to manage, drive and deliver on this important project.

Introducing Brenda Sorel. Brenda worked for us as an intern whilst at university in France. After her studies, she came back and started working for us as our Product Control & Commercial Support Supervisor. She is responsible for continuous improvement within our product range and commercial processes. As we continued down this path it became clear that this is an important issue to Brenda, and with the skills and qualities she possesses, was the ideal person to take on this vital role.

Finally, we need a target

  • 95% reduction in plastic packaging (our current packaging is biodegradable or made from recycled materials) 
  • 50% increase in chemical recycling (we pay a company to remove the chemical waste)
  • 25% reduction in all waste 
  • 15 % reduction in volumetric shipping based on the same weight (basically, to ship less air!)
  • 10% reduction in staff commuting 
  • All energy from renewable energy sources

Over the coming months we can update you further on our progress. Hopefully, some of it will tie into the 2019 FIE World Fencing Day *, which is focusing on this area.

We have made a great start! We have already introduced new compostable packaging for our clothing and from the beginning of September our masks will also be packaged in compostable material. But we still have a long way to go…

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* #FencingDay: World Fencing Day is an initiative of the FIE to promote our sport and its values and takes place annually in September, on the first Saturday.

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