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Oliver Harvey, Going Greener

Posted on Sep 17th 2019

Reflection is one of the most important characteristics for success. Being able to look at yourself and your practices to see what can be improved is how you ensure continued development. We feel one area we have historically not applied this reflection too is our sustainability and environmental awareness. As clothing manufacturers go, we have always been miles ahead of our competition due to our small size and British manufacturing specialism. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t numerous steps we could take to improve our energy efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint. So in this article, we shall inform our fantastic community what we have done and are doing to show our love for our planet.

Firstly, and something we would guess everyone reading this is already aware, is we manufacture exclusively in Manchester, UK. This reduces our carbon impact through not requiring to ship containers thousands of miles from Africa or Asia. We ran a little equation to measure this impact based on our monthly stock turnover and discovered we save 2.9 tonnes of C02 emissions a year by manufacturing on these shores. But as well as the environmental benefits this also allows us to look after our seamstresses, finishers and cutting department ourselves. We employ skilled local people who between them have centuries of textile experience from the heart of Cottonopolis. And because we are UK only, our employees all receive some of the best rights in the world. Although the industry is finally showing signs of improvement, they are substantially more protected and better paid than their counterparts abroad.

Secondly, we decided to change delivery partners from FedEx to DPD. Now there were many reasons behind this judgement, the most notable being reliability for our customers and also the cost-efficient capacity for Next Day Delivery. The former has improved significantly, and the latter achieved earlier this year. But another influence over this decision was each company’s environment strategy. DPD have issued a Carbon Neutrality Commitment. To summarise, they offset all of their emissions through a variety of projects worldwide, including green energy generation in Turkey and India and capturing methane in Europe. Besides, they are currently increasing the number of electric vehicles in their fleet in the UK which they have pledged to hit 550 by 2021. Therefore, when you order from Oliver Harvey, there are no emissions involved in the delivery from our door to yours.

Next up is how we renovated our new home. As so much needed to be done, we took the opportunity to install as many energy-saving initiatives as possible. One area we worked on, in particular, is the lighting. Firstly, we introduced only LEDs in our building which can be up to 75% more efficient than comparable incandescent lighting.  This is because 90% of traditional bulb energy is lost as heat which in contrast is around the 40% mark for LEDs. As well as changing the bulbs we also replaced the switches. In our new building, every light is managed via a motion sensor. This was done to improve our energy efficiency and depending on which source you use, can reduce consumption from between 35% and 75%. Little changes such as these not only benefit the environment but also save you money so an absolute win.

Now for our waste.  We are fortunate to have found a fantastic partner in this regard, Wheeldons. On the surface, we appear to just put our rubbish with no differentiation into wheelie bins you would expect to be taken straight to the nearest landfill. However, with Wheeldons, this is not the case as they recycle for us once our rubbish arrives at one of their facilities. This means by extension; we recycle 90% of all of our waste. In addition to this, they also have a state of the art waste to energy site in nearby Ramsbottom. This allows all the non-recycled rubbish to be filtered, refined and turned into energy for local businesses. We are most fortunate to have such a fantastic partner close by and if you are in the Greater Manchester area we cannot recommend them enough.

Wheeldon's Waste to Energy Facility

You have heard all the things we have done and continually do to reduce our environmental impact and maximise our sustainability. But we aren’t finished in this regard, and I refer you to the opening sentences of this article! We have several new projects currently in development or on the horizon we know will have a positive impact on our green and ethical credentials.

First up is packaging. We are very proud of the care we take in individually wrapping and protecting every single product that comes out of our factory. However, this does involve a large amount of plastic. Therefore throughout 2019, we have been sourcing alternatives and are in the process of trialling some new initiatives to reduce our plastic waste. One is to replace our Oliver Harvey black and white poly bags with paper ones which would be 100% recyclable. Another is to alter our DPD packaging outer bag from plastic to paper. Yet, the latter is one we are going to trial over the coming weeks on 33% of our orders as it is of paramount importance that our goods arrive at you in perfect condition. While we have received all of the expected reassurances from our supplier, this is not something we are going to change business-wide without being sure, but if successful these two changes will reduce our plastic usage by almost 70%.

Our final environmental change which is looking likely to be introduced soon is the purchase and installation of a new CAM Cutting Machine on our factory floor. Now, as we are sure you can appreciate this is a massive investment on our part so it cannot be confirmed just yet. If it does happen though, this will not only allow us to increase our manufacturing output, which means more products in stock which means more garments available for Next Day Delivery but also reduces our energy consumption by 20% due to its higher efficiency.

So as you can see, in the background, we have been quietly making the necessary changes to reduce our environmental impact. And there’s plenty more to come!

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