There is a broad scientific consensus that human-influenced climate change is the pre-eminent ecological issue of the 21st century. In order to prevent irreversible and catastrophic damage to the planet, humanity must take immediate action to limit our carbon emissions. The Paris Agreement intends to help limit the global temperature to within 1.5°c of pre-industrial levels, with the ultimate aim of achieving a carbon neutral world by 2050.
As a manufacturing company, QPSL realises that the practices of businesses such as ours can have a significant impact on worldwide carbon emissions. Companies of all kinds, along with governments and other organisations, must harness advancing technology to counter the rise of these emissions. Doing this is of paramount importance to our planet, and we must take action sooner rather than later. The road to carbon neutrality seems like a daunting one, but taking these steps is the only way to ensure that, collectively, we have the opportunity to move towards a low carbon future.
Our Environmental Management System
QPSL has always acknowledged that processing plastic (PVC) and Aluminium has a big impact on the CO2 emissions of our planet. This is why, in the years after 2010, the company invested into creating and implementing an Environmental Management System. This was accredited under ISO 14001 in 2013.
With support and knowledge from the Business Growth Hub’s Green Growth service, QPSL has reduced its initial energy requirements and reduced waste. This was promoted in an article in 2022, after 10 years of co-operation between the Growth Hub and QPSL. The company was selected to showcase the example of extraordinary CO2 savings in a Growth Hub report:
Today, CO2 emission is structured in 3 Scopes. Each Scope looks at the activities of a company, measures those in volume and, using official gov.uk conversion, factors the CO2 emissions of a company. (This index is annually updated and published by the government: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/greenhouse-gas-reporting-conversion-factors-2023)
The 3 Scopes
Scope 1 — This covers the Green House Gas (GHG) emissions that a company makes directly — for example while running its boilers and vehicles (used gas and fuel).
Scope 2 — These are the emissions a company makes indirectly – like when the electricity or energy it buys for heating and cooling buildings is being produced on its behalf. (= used / purchased energy)
Scope 3 — This category includes all the emissions not directly associated with the company itself, but that the organisation is indirectly responsible for, up and down its value chain. This covers many things, from buying raw material to process and converting that material into products (with energy tracked in Scope 2), to the distribution of the finished products to the end user. Waste and business travel also belong in Scope 3.
The first 2 Scopes are in the direct control of a company, and most of today’s net zero claims refer to zero emissions in those 2 Scopes. However, especially as a manufacturer, Scope 3 will normally have the biggest emission impact in a company. For example, with QPSL being a processor of PVC and Aluminium, Scope 3 emissions are about 94% of our total emissions.
Facing this challenge together with other material processors, the focus of QPSL will be to collaborate with suppliers to explore possible routes on reducing Scope 3 emissions.
Decreasing Scope 1 and 2 Emissions
Due to our very successful environmental management system (which was repeatedly called world class for a company of our size by external auditors), QPSL was already aware of the activities that are counted in Scope 1 and 2. Those figures have been tracked for a decade now, and our biggest successes are:
- Reducing disposed waste from production processes to under 1%.
- Installation of energy monitoring across the main streams of users.
- Making big energy savings by improving equipment (LED lights across the full site, relocation of chillers to the optimal place on site, upgraded ageing machinery).
- Installation of Photovoltaics (PVs) on the roof of the QPSL office and factory. These will generate an average of 35% of our annual energy needs, with over 80% of self-generated energy expected on busy summer days.
- Migrating the company car fleet towards EVs, and installing charging stations for these on-site.
- Reducing the electricity used to process 1t of PVC by 27% between 2014 and 2022.
- Replacing most face-to-face meetings with virtual meetings, and updating all rooms to allow high quality video conferencing (this was achieved prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns).
While Scope 1 and 2 emissions are in the control of the company, in certain areas the technology does not yet allow for a full achievement of carbon neutrality. For example, heavy goods vehicles are not expected to be ready for electric or hybrid motors until around 2040, and the core business of a manufacturer is to deliver created products to their customers.
QPSL is proud of its clean reputation and has created a statement to put hard figures towards the targets of bringing Scope 1 and 2 emissions as close to zero as possible by 2035. Whether we can attain true carbon neutrality by this time will depend on technological developments for the transportation of goods.
100% zero carbon light cars.
50% zero carbon heavy goods vehicles and be carbon neutral on Scope 1 emissions by 2050.
Move all lease cars to electric vehicles and investigate electric options for heavy good vehicles as soon as possible when the technology exists.
Operate an efficient production site, powered by renewable energy.
Utilise the full roof for a PV system, maximising self-generated solar energy.
Optimise energy requirement in all areas.
Only purchase electricity from truly 100% renewable sources.
Increase the potential of self-generated energy, and consequently be carbon neutral on Scope 2 emissions.
On renewal of energy contract in June 2023, push for 100% green energy supply if financially feasible.
Continue replacing ageing machinery with more energy efficient models.
In the last 5 years QPSL has reduced its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by:
2017 2022 Reduction
Scope 1 160 106 35%
Scope 2 255 117 54%
tonnes of CO2e
Decreasing Scope 3 Emissions
Since QPSL began to compile this roadmap, the following Scope 3 objectives have been realised:
- Refurbishment of the roof to improve indoor climate control.
- Achievement of a better energy performance certificate (EPC) rating for factory and office buildings. From move-in 1992 till today the rating changed from F to C for the warehouse/office structure built in 1988.
- Movement to green/renewable energy for our building and investment in solar PVs.
- Investment in energy efficiency measures, such as improved building insulation, and choosing low energy appliances and processes. Changed to energy efficient LED lighting site wide.
- New on-site recycling equipment to prevent the need to recycle PVC externally as it was done in the past. This has reduced transport emissions and increased direct circular material re-use.
- Machinery upgrades to use more modern, energy efficient models.
Ongoing activities to impact Scope 3 which are already being implemented by QPSL are as follows:
- Monitored water treatment and minimised discharge.
- Adjustment of overall building temperature via central energy management.
- Research into reducing the energy used in our IT server room by moving towards fully virtual off-site servers.
- Segregated waste to maximise recycling opportunities and possibly generate income.
- Innovate and re-design products and services to minimise their emissions and waste.
- Full waste segregation on QPSL site. Responsible sourcing of materials or services to ensure they are as green as possible.
- Reduce, repair, reuse, recycle or donate wherever possible.
- Reducing printing and paper use, embracing a paper free office and production process across the site.
- Minimising waste from our products, packaging, and any food from the canteen.
- Agreed delivery schedule with customers and suppliers to reduce the number of deliveries.
- Employees offered charging for their e-bikes to encourage commuting by bike.
- Reducing business travel and increasing virtual meetings.
- Electrified sales fleet, with electric vehicle charging points made available.
- Flexible workplaces and remote working to reduce the emissions from commuting and office space.
- Cycle to work schemes made available for all employees.
- Employee business travel reviewed and planned with emissions in mind, with a focus on public transport and avoiding flights.
Under scope 3, QPSL has also committed resources and developed plans to ensure our activities in the future have a direct impact.
Source sustainably and locally.
Support and engage with suppliers in their net zero and carbon neutral ambitions.
Prioritise companies with a clear net zero or carbon neutral statement.
Increase circular transport packaging with suppliers and customers.
Prioritise delivery options with low carbon impact.
Reduce process waste
Reduce general waste as much as possible.
General waste reduction by 25%.
Process waste on 0%.
General waste reduction by 50%.
Find recycle streams for contaminated process waste. Invest into own reprocessing equipment or find new partners to segregate the material from general waste.
Engage in more circular schemes with suppliers and customers.
Help our employees and customers live low carbon lifestyles.
Offer financial support and encouragement for public or alternative transports.
Educate on low carbon lifestyle and raise awareness for global responsibility.
In the last 5 years QPSL has reduced Scope 3 emissions by:
2017 2022 Reduction
Waste 2,248 1,168 54%
Material Procurement 4,249 4,147 2%
tonnes of CO2e
Working Towards a Carbon Neutral Future
QPSL has more plans to reduce emissions and push for further environmental improvements. In the next decade the following actions are part of the company strategy with allocated budget and resources:
- Boiler replacement.
- Investigating heat exchange systems to minimise dependencies on gas heating for the offices.
- Electricity monitoring and effective use of the collected data.
- Cooperation with suppliers to optimise delivery schedules.
- Office air conditioning update.
- Rainwater harvesting.
- Research into alternative materials to PVC.
- Investment into more circular packaging systems.
These initiatives will help to move QPSL towards a low carbon future. As the plans show, our roadmap is an ongoing process. We aim to keep ahead of legislation, and to continually assess our goals and ambitions in carbon emission reduction. This means keeping ourselves informed with regard to burgeoning technologies and developing efficiencies, which can be utilised in our aims for carbon neutrality over the coming years.
We must keep our objectives in sight, while moving with the most up-to-date advice and recommendations from climate scientists, technology companies, and other experts. When there are breakthroughs in carbon sequestration, changes in the science, or research which reappraises the limits of acceptable carbon emissions, we aim to be flexible and willing to change with the consensus. It is only by committing to evolve our ideas and practices over time that QPSL and other companies like ours can ensure that we can help in finding the solutions to climate issues as they become clearer in the future.
QPSL aims to maintain ongoing engagement with experts, climate NGOs, clients, employees, and other key stakeholders. Through this, we will endeavour to learn and adapt to a changing global context in order to minimise our footprint and employ the most effective approaches available. We recognise that low carbon strategies will evolve with scientific consensus and technological advances, and we intend to evolve with it as the information and guidance develops.