Another trip around the sun, another year of much change and challenge, but for many it's also been a year of action and determination. In response to the climate emergency, and off the back of Schneider electric being named Most Sustainable Corporation in the world by Corporate Nights in January 2021, at Drayton we've put sustainability at the heart of everything we do. In line with our goal to become a net zero emissions site by 2025, it's essential that we make each passing year more sustainable than the last.
Read on for our Christmas re-cap of our year of action for sustainability at Drayton, a few of our projects for 2022, and read our 10 handy tips to help you enjoy your well-deserved festive period more sustainably.
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What progress has Drayton made in sustainability in 2021?
Drayton’s carbon emissions down by a quarter in 2021
Our total Scope 1 & 2 carbon emissions by the end of this year will be approximately 120 tonnes, a reduction of almost 25% vs. our 2020 emissions, thanks to improvements to the efficiency of our factory machinery, converting fluorescent lighting to LED, and a host of other smaller improvements to our working practices.
We said so long to even more single use plastics (SUPs)
By eliminating a variety of single use plastics from our supply chain and replacing them with more eco-friendly alternatives, we cut our single use plastic tonnage by 40% compared to last year, and we won’t stop there. We have trials underway to find alternatives to some of our trickier plastics, like polythene bags.
Support for local conservation heroes
As part of our annual charitable donations, we pledged a sum to Fathoms Free, a local conservation charity with a team of dedicated, volunteer divers who give up their time to remove ghost netting and other harmful plastic pollution from the coasts around Devon and Cornwall. We’re proud to support their work in protecting marine habitats.
Tackling the UK STEM skills gap
Despite the difficulties of COVID restrictions, we were thrilled to be involved with two STEM events this year, helping to address the STEM skills gap faced by our local area and across the UK.
As part of Schneider Electric’s sponsorship of the 2021 SailGP Great British Sail Grand Prix in Plymouth, Drayton’s team of STEM ambassadors put on a fun activity for 300 local schoolchildren across 2 days at STEMfest 2021, testing their design and reasoning skills to build mini motorboats to race in our specially-made pool. We were so impressed by their enthusiasm on the day, and we hope it’s helped the children consider further education in STEM subjects.
Women In Industry Day
To us, sustainability isn’t just about reducing emissions. In line with the UN’s sustainability goals, diversity and inclusivity are key to a sustainable future. Last month, Drayton’s STEM ambassador team welcomed eight female students from Mount Kelly School in Tavistock to our Plymouth site to find out more about smart home technology, our career development opportunities at Drayton, have a tour of our factory, and take part in practical STEM activities to challenge their product design, branding and even their bridge-building skills.
Energy-saving product launches
Earlier this year, we launched a host of new products to the Drayton and Wiser ranges designed to save households energy and money, as well as lower their carbon footprint.
In April we launched the all-new Digistat, with dedicated settings for low-carbon heating technologies like heat pumps and electrical heating. The new Digistat is also OpenTherm compatible to improve boiler efficiency. Thanks to Bluetooth-enabled app control, it’s easier than ever to make changes to heating settings, helping you save energy.
Wiser Underfloor and Electrical Heating Controls
In our Wiser range, we launched the Underfloor Heating Controller to control wet underfloor heating via the Wiser Home app, and an Electrical Heat Switch for smart control of electrical heating appliances, like electric underfloor heating, towel rails and infrared radiators. Both devices are compatible with any existing Wiser system and the Wiser Home app.
A brand-new feature of the Wiser Home app recently released is Insights+, a revolutionary new service which links with your smart meter to provide a detailed breakdown of your home energy use, along with personalised advice and predictions. If your system is eligible, for a single one-off payment of £14.99, customers receive an in-home display device to link Wiser to their smart meter, and full access to the Insights+ dashboard. Wiser by Drayton is the first heating controls manufacturer to offer this service, and we’re proud to continue developing innovative solutions to help households save energy and reduce their carbon footprint.
Supporting discussions into low-carbon heating of the future
In October this year, Drayton sponsored the BEAMA Net Zero Homes webinar series. This event included seven online webinars discussing the challenges of decarbonising the UK’s home heating systems, and how government and manufacturers can work together to support households and installers in the transition to low carbon heating technologies, like heat pumps. We’re pleased to support these important conversations and learn all we can to support our customers, trade professionals and communities in the challenges to come.
Harmful ocean plastics become useful components
Our team in Plymouth recently completed a revolutionary new ocean plastic recycling trial, in which ghost fishing nets, once endangering marine life off the coast of Devon, were recovered, recycled, and manufactured into components we use in our supply chain, replacing one of our single use plastics. With the help of Fathoms Free, whose team recovered the discarded netting, Drayton’s manufacturing team created a prototype protective cap for our SP3 product, using 100% recycled ocean plastic, due to be rolled out fully by the end of 2022.
What projects will make Drayton more sustainable in 2022?
We may be about to have our Christmas break, but the work to make our practices more sustainable never stops, and we have some exciting projects to get our teeth into in 2022 that will lower our emissions, reduce our impact on the environment and promote the biodiversity of our local area.
An all-new biodiversity garden
Work is underway at our Plymouth site to remove old, unused sheds that will allow us to use the space to design a peaceful garden for our employees to enjoy. Alongside this, we’ll be creating an area dedicated to promoting local biodiversity, with plants specially selected to support soil health, pollinators, and other wildlife. Once the area is cleared, a biodiversity survey will inform us how best we can use the space to benefit ecosystems.
Reducing halogens in our supply chain
At Drayton, we use 76 different resins in our manufacturing processes. Sometimes halogens are added to improve the flame-retardant properties of the material, but they can pose an environmental risk at the end of the product’s life. When materials containing halogens are disposed of, they may be incinerated which releases harmful by-products into the atmosphere.
37 of our resins are confirmed as halogen-free, 4 do contain halogens and we’re speaking with our suppliers to confirm the contents of the rest. The 4 halogen-containing resins we do use in our Plymouth factory are now under investigation to test and introduce halogen-free alternatives.
A smarter factory
Now in its final planning and preparation stages, next year will see the next part of a major factory upgrade that will see our Plymouth factory become digitised, turning it into a smart factory. As part of Schneider Electric, we’re embracing its EcoStruxure framework shortly to be installed across the site, which will allow real-time monitoring of our machinery, providing the feedback our staff need to identify where efficiency can be improved, as well as safety.
Coming soon – Eco Brass
Brass is an alloy used in many of our products, like Drayton radiator valves, but one of its constituent metals is lead, so although brass is recyclable, the lead portion can be hazardous to the environment at the end of a product’s life. For a product currently in development, we’re looking into using ‘Eco Brass’, a high-performance, lead-free (max. 0.25%) brass alloy that reduces the product’s risk to the environment at the end of its life.
Drayton’s 10 tips for a more sustainable Christmas
Christmas is a special but notoriously wasteful time of year, but there are ways to shop and eat more sustainably, reduce waste and still have that well-deserved, fun-filled festive period.
- Shop local – By buying food and other products made locally we can reduce emissions produced by transporting goods around the world.
- Homemade with care – there are many easy homemade gifts that really show you care, like putting together a food hamper, make natural soaps and lotions at home, or even knit a scarf using free video tutorials.
- Treat them with an experience – Things often come with an environmental cost. Try an experience gift instead, like zookeeper-for-a-day, a cooking class, or perhaps a taster lesson in a craft they’ve always wanted to try.
- Wrap and recycle – Avoid wrapping and tapes containing plastic, glitter and foil as they usually can’t be recycled, instead go for recyclable paper wrapping and plastic-free ribbon. Adding natural finishes like cinnamon sticks, twine and dried orange slices will make the recipient feel super special!
- Or wrap and reuse – Alternatively, try out furoshiki wrapping, a Japanese technique where gifts are wrapped in beautiful cloth which can be reused again and again.
- Dial down the plastic – Before buying a product containing plastics, consider alternatives that are lower in, or free from plastics, and instead use more sustainable materials like FSC wood or bamboo.
- Celebrate natural – Try your hand at foraging and making natural festive decorations, like dried orange slices, pinecones, holly and ivy wreaths, and more. There’s a wealth of ideas online, and it makes a great craft activity for all the family.
- Choose lasting gifts over novelty – A singing mug? A mechanical flossing sloth? These provide a few minutes of fun, but when the novelty wears off, especially with toys, what then? Try shopping with longevity in mind, particularly with children’s toys.
- Personality in preowned – Buying second-hand really can help you find a great gift. Search out items that are vintage, collectible, artisan, or that’ll just make them smile. We have a tradition in our family of a charity shop lucky dip; everyone contributes an amusing (or possibly even useful!) item found in a charity shop. It’s sustainable, low-cost, fun, and supports charities.
- Feast more sustainably – Eating a more plant-based diet cuts your carbon footprint, so try focusing on the delicious plant-based side dishes (I’m looking at you, honey-glazed parsnips!) rather than the quantity of meat this year, or go meat-free! If buying meat, consider sourcing high-quality, high-welfare meats from local producers, after all, it’s a special time of year, a great time to support local and be more sustainable.
From everyone at Drayton, we want to thank you for being a part of our sustainability journey as we move forward to net zero by 2025, and we wish you and your family a very happy and safe festive period!
Read more topics at Wiser about Sustainability