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The power of margin gains in achieving a sustainable future

Wednesday, 1 November 2023

We have a target to become carbon neutral by 2045 and are putting in place projects to help make this achievable. This includes carefully calculated adaptations to products, the supply chain and logistics which come together to make a big cumulative effect.

Reduction in carbon emissions
We have reduced carbon emissions over the last four years by 133 tonnes of CO2 or 21%, which is a huge step towards our target of 25% over five years. That’s the equivalent of over 6,000 trees growing for one year or over 600 hot air balloons. A large contributor towards this is a reduction of energy usage, driven by more energy efficient technology including the generation of electricity through solar power. 

Powering our approach
Using renewable electricity has become a cornerstone of our approach – yet was a relatively simple and painless switch to make. By choosing an energy provider that supplies 100% renewable source electricity, we have also been able to reduce our Scope 2 emissions.

Move to recycled plastic
When we looked at the material we used, we recognised an opportunity to embrace recycled plastic more broadly and we are working with our supply chain to move plastic products over to 70%+ recycled content. By doing so for 20 products, during the last 12 months we have saved 220 tonnes of virgin plastic, which will continue year on year. That’s the equivalent to the weight of the Statue of Liberty.

This includes adapting the popular Eco Jolly Trolley from 0% to 73% recycled content saving 35 tonnes of virgin plastic each year, moving the 15-litre Professional bucket and wringer to 97% recycled content saving 55 tonnes of virgin plastic and moving the Eco Caterers Scourer to 100% recycled content saving a huge 67 tonnes of virgin plastic.

Recycled plastic packaging
What’s more, by moving to 30%+ recycled plastic packaging, we’ve saved a further 10 tonnes of virgin plastic.

Reduce plastic content
We also realised that small design changes can have notable environmental impacts. Take our socket mops for example. A reduction in the amount of plastic by 5g to 10g has reduced our annual plastic use by over 17 tonnes, and by 2024 we will be saving around 30 tonnes of virgin plastic each year.

Recycling end of life packaging 
We’re also recycling all of our end-of-life plastic and card packaging, and in 2022 we recycled over 116 tonnes of cardboard and 27 tonnes of plastic packaging. That’s equivalent of a Blue Whale.

These initiatives together amount to saving nearly 270 tonnes of plastic each year, the equivalent of 40 elephants.

Toucan play at that game
We’re also introducing new products that help businesses reduce the carbon impact of their operations without requiring major alterations to their cleaning routines. Our Toucan Eco range, for example, makes an antibacterial cleaner using just water, salt and electricity. It’s chemical-free, more cost effective than traditional cleaning systems and reduces around 80% of a typical user’s plastic waste.

Using Toucan Eco, The Restaurant Group was able to reduce plastic packaging by 2.7 tonnes and chemical usage by 35,000 tonnes in just one year, replacing the need for 11 different chemicals.

Reducing logistical footprints
Shipping and transportation is another area prime for a marginal gains approach. By optimising packing methods we have reduced our container load, making a marked difference to our carbon footprint. 

We’re also piloting rerouting shipping to reduce road haulage, which has the highest transportation emissions. Even seemingly minor alterations, like adjusting delivery frequencies, can accumulate to sizable CO2 emission reductions. A reduction from three to two deliveries per week for a single customer could, for instance, cut about 30 tonnes of CO2 annually.

No pain, big gain
We’ve learnt to embrace the philosophy of marginal gains in everything we do as we strive towards our big goal for 2045. As we're discovering, it's often the journey of a thousand small steps that leads to the most remarkable destinations.