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CSR report


Corporate Responsibility and the Environment 2013

Suma  members tree planting

Suma members tree planting

Cleaning the river Calder

Cleaning the river Calder

suma workers planting a roadside garden

Suma workers planting a roadside garden

Suma is an IPS, a workers’ cooperative, collectively owned and managed by its workers. Since first becoming established in the 1970s, the cooperative has founded its operations on a commitment to ethical trading and environmentally sound practice.

As the cooperative and its business have grown, so has its demand for resources and energy but Suma has never lost sight of its original principles. In our day to day operation we are acutely aware of the issues confronting the environment and the need to keep a tight rein on our consumption of energy and other resources.

Over the past few years there has been renewed interest among major corporations in mitigating the effects of climate change, accompanied by fanfares and media coverage. Awareness of environmental degradation as a means of limiting unchecked consumption is a cause to which we have always subscribed. We have for some considerable time taken steps to limit our energy use through making improvements in efficiency. And we actively offset the impact which we are unable to control at source.

We are further committed to reducing our emissions and energy consumption by implementing resource efficiency programmes. As collective owners and managers of the business, all members of the coop will be involved in assessing and reducing wherever possible their demands on resources, re-using materials whenever practicable and engaging in recycling wherever there is a demonstrable need.

We have worked diligently to reduce our energy profile to its current level, which is well below the industry average. The installation of an industrial freezer unit to satisfy our customers’ demand for frozen goods has increased overall CO2 emissions temporarily but we are currently reviewing our distribution model with an aim to reducing this impact by saving resources elsewhere.
We have recently established a distribution hub in the South East which, over time, should reduce our delivery mileage, our mineral diesel consumption and make our distribution far more efficient in terms of kms / tonne.

Our warehousing and office facilities make use of 100% renewable electricity.

Our warehousing and office facilities make use of 100% renewable electricity.

By supplying goods to outlying groups and communities, we are actively enabling significant reductions in supermarket shopping mileage.

By supplying goods to outlying groups and communities, we are actively enabling significant reductions in supermarket shopping mileage.

As our distribution fleet is renewed, our dependence on mineral fuels will be reduced as we make use of bio-mass and other alternatives such as CNG.

As our distribution fleet is renewed, our dependence on mineral fuels will be reduced as we make use of bio-mass and other alternatives such as CNG.

Responding to the Challenge of Using Less

Our stationery and our catalogue are all made from recycled paper.

Our stationery and our catalogue are all made from recycled paper.

We clean up and protect the river and riverbank adjacent to our premises.

We clean up and protect the river and riverbank adjacent to our premises.

We take back cartons, cardboard and plastic containers from our customers for re-use and recycling.

We take back cartons, cardboard and plastic containers from our customers for re-use and recycling.

Our lighting voltage management system has so far cut our electricity use by over 17%.

Our lighting voltage management system has so far cut our electricity use by over 17%.

Responding to the Challenge of Using Less

“Our stationery and our price-list are all made from recycled paper.”

“We clean up and protect the river and riverbank adjacent to our premises.”

“We accept cartons, cardboard and plastic containers back from our customers for re-use and recycling.”

“Our warehouse lighting management system has so far cut our electricity use by over 17%.”

“We are replacing outdoor lighting units with LED equivalents to reduce further our electricity use.”

As a business our statistics already measure up well against industry standards. Our per capita water consumption is currently more than 25% lower than the average for a comparable commercial site and our consumption of paper is about 70% of the industry average for a concern of our size. We limit its use wherever possible but are obliged as a business to keep records and archives of essential documentation and the vast majority of our customers are in a similar position.

Environmental Data –Energy Used 2010 2011 2012
Electricity (100% renewable): 62,245 kWh 51,697 kWh 57,392 kWh
Gas: 60,023 kWh 62,245 kWh 66,989 kWh
Mineral Diesel Oil: 337,098 L 352,557 L 384,230 L

The upward trend in our mineral diesel consumption marks an increase in the fleet over the past few years from 12 heavy goods vehicles to 16. Distribution mileage has also increased with increased sales. We have replaced one of our trucks with a 40-tonne articulated vehicle that means we can now send a single truck into areas where formerly two or three would be sent in the course of a week and have thereby also increased our capacity for back – hauling, ensuring our returning vehicles collect as much stock as possible, eliminating the need for additional delivery mileage from our suppliers. Our gas consumption is stable and reflects seasonal fluctuations as the majority of it is used for heating. In a year we use the equivalent of about three average family homes, which, with an on-site working population of 100+ workers at any given time, is modest. Nevertheless, we are in the process of investigating and evaluating ways to reduce our overall gas consumption.

All the electricity we use is guaranteed from renewable sources by our suppliers. We are mindful of the fact, however, that this is not a de facto licence to use it carelessly. Our recently installed warehouse lighting has motion and lux-sensor control to optimise energy use while maintaining a safe working environment. We are in the process of replacing the task lights in our goods yard with LED units which will consume only about 30% of the power used by the existing system. Our office lighting units are controlled by motion sensors and each four-element fitting has had two elements removed with no compromise to health and safety considerations. The majority of the electricity we consume powers our refrigerated storage units, which use HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) as a refrigerant. These are currently the cleanest available option, containing no ozone depletion potential.

Environmental Data – Emissions

Suma has worked for the past five years in a match funding capacity with a local environmental group, Treesponsibility. An average of 5 hectares of nascent woodland has been planted every year since the project started in 2000, which already constitutes a carbon sink capable of absorbing several thousand tonnes of CO2 over the next 50 years.

All necessary care is taken to ensure the planting does not adversely affect birds or native plant species. Beyond that, soil chemistry is also taken into consideration. No planting takes place on peat bogs or moorland where heather thrives. Such landscapes serve important functions in providing habitats, storing carbon and absorbing water.

Native broadleaf species such as alder, birch, rowan, oak, willow and ash are planted in lean soils where the ultimate aim is to lock carbon into the soil at the same time as providing a sustainable resource by means of coppicing the plantation as it matures. This is in contrast to many ‘economic forestry’ projects where coniferous soft woods are planted in quite unsuitable regions, and run the risk of adversely affecting the planet’s albedo. Suma’s current total average CO2 emissions are 850 – 900 tonnes annually largely due to the need to burn mineral diesel in our distribution fleet.

Our Future

As part of our commitment to our environment we are constantly looking at ways of limiting our consumption and use of resources. We have ongoing awareness raising campaigns reminding colleagues to switch machines off after use and avoid wasting energy wherever possible. This is backed up with small reminders in poster format of how much energy is wasted just leaving a monitor on standby overnight. Just because the power we use is from a green source, there is no justification for using it unwisely or wasting it.

*We aim to improve our energy efficiency by an aggregate 20% by 2014 against our baseline of 2004-05. Although we have already made significant progress in cutting our demand for electricity, there is more still to do. Through an agreement with our electricity suppliers, 100% of the power we use comes from renewable sources. Our next step is to take responsibility for generating as much as we need and we are currently researching the most practical and sustainable way to achieve this goal.

Plans and priorities

Continue working on our sustainable, energy-efficient business equation
Incorporate renewable energy into new building design
Continue to make responsible use of electricity from 100% green sources
Aim for a realistic reduction in energy-related transport CO2 emissions.