When Fernco, Barnsley based manufacturer and distributor of flexible couplings, drainage, and plumbing systems, started noticing the actions they could take to contribute to their industry’s drive to Net Zero, the company began looking internally to see what changes could be made to reduce their own impact.
With a government strategy in place for decarbonisation to net zero by 2050 and an increasing number of customers asking the Fernco team about sustainability within the manufacturing process, it was also becoming clear that making an early start would be a sound business decision, allowing for associated costs to be spread over a longer period.
The team at Fernco knew they had a vital role to play in reducing the company’s impact on climate change. Janice Williams, the QHSE manager learned about the free support available via the Net Zero Accelerator at The Business Village, which gives a framework to help businesses in the region reduce emissions and create net zero innovations.
Fernco joined the programme and then took it a step further by recruiting an additional member of staff who could dedicate time to the process. Fresh from a degree in environmental sustainability, Rebecca Eccles joined Fernco as the new environmental and sustainability coordinator and is now working through the initial findings of the evaluation.
“We’re still working on understanding our baseline emissions but are already evaluating whether solar panels can be installed on the building. We’re also looking at options to have pallets and waste rubber from the manufacturing process recycled Our Net Zero advisor, Keith Ruddock, is helping us to identify suitable companies to help do this.”
With Scopes 1 and 2 complete, Fernco is now working on identifying Scope 3 emissions. This includes evaluating their customers and supplier logistics, along with employee travel to work.
“Scopes 1 and 2 identified gas and electricity as big emitters. We’re a manufacturing facility, so energy usage is naturally high and with prices going up, it’s become viable to look at renewable energy sources.”
Rebecca is aware that a long-term plan will be needed to tackle everything identified and says that the management team is talking to set financially attainable targets. The environmental team will evaluate the largest contributors to emissions and then consider the impact of making changes along with the costs involved. This process will lead to an action plan covering the next few years.
“As a business, we wanted to work on our environmental impact but had no idea where to start. The Net Zero Accelerator has given us that starting point, along with a network of other businesses going through the same process. The shared experience is really useful, and we’ve exchanged contact information so that we can pass helpful information to each other.”
Through the Net Zero Accelerator, Fernco learned about the Green Mark certification. It’s since led to the company becoming Level 1 accredited. Rebecca herself has also found the advisor’s support helpful, especially as it’s her first role out of university. His advice has given her insight on how to present ideas for senior management approval.
“If a Barnsley business is thinking of reducing their emissions to work towards net zero regulations, I’d recommend joining the Net Zero Accelerator at The Business Village. It’s important to know that you’ll not see any results quickly, but it’s a useful way of finding a starting point and networking with other businesses going through the same process. The programme will help you to understand your emissions and develop strategies which then lead into the changes you can implement.”
Fernco manufacture flexible pipe couplings of all sizes for the civil and drainage, plumbing and water management sectors. They supply to distributors and builders’ merchants while employing 70 staff in Wombwell, Barnsley.
Kevin Steel, Business Development Manager at The Business Village said “It’s always exciting to help deliver projects that add real benefit to local businesses, even more so when we see job creation as an added consequence.”
Funding for the Net Zero Accelerator at The Business Village comes from the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and Barnsley Metropolitan Council.