Protecting the Planet
We have a duty to our environment, to minimise our impacts and play our part in ensuring that it is handed to the next generation unharmed and hopefully enhanced by our actions. As a company we conduct vital, potentially lifesaving work, but our work has various environmental impact that we are minimising through human and engineering solutions.
Part of the process of minimising this impact is recognising what it is. For a number of years we have been monitoring different energy consumption patterns, however one of our most recent innovations is a carbon footprint calculator. This enables us to understand the carbon footprint of each of the materials we produce at our manufacturing facilities, which we can then alter to minimise our impact.
We go much further than this though and actively seek to mitigate our impact wherever possible and preserve resources, leading us down our decarbonisation journey.
To reduce environmental impacts, first, we needed to understand them. WJ have on-going energy usage data monitored from 2015, this includes monitoring our operational energy use from buildings, fuel usage by the fleet, and a rigorous KPI system that includes various sustainability indicators.
Our main environmental impact is our fleet. With over 200 trucks, the sheer amount of diesel usage for our operations is unavoidable. However, this has not stopped us from trying. We engineer our trucks and plant so that we can make environmentally sound changes and follow the Green House Gas Emissions Hierarchy. We have designed and built many innovative vehicles that can do the work of two traditional trucks. Such as; vehicles incorporating extra preheaters or interchangeable ones where one truck can potentially carry out High Friction Surfacing and Road Markings. Additionally, 85% of our plant vehicles are Euro 6 and increasing and over 72% of our company cars and vans are hybrid or electric.
Telematics has played an important role in not only efficient routing but also to help monitor driver behaviour. Our Training Academy has enabled us to train over 300 LGV drivers, which includes Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving, alongside with the reward scheme for monitored driver behaviour, we have seen the results of a startling 15—20% improvement in fuel efficiency, emissions, and eventually air quality.
We are also focussing our concerns on waste and trying to understand the end-of-life of our various products. An innovation that has come from this is our waste screening system for the temporary stud operation. It has managed to divert 90% of this waste stream away from landfill by separating the plastic studs from the original aggregate mixture. We have also implemented in-office recycling initiatives, planned PPE recycling, as well as trying to reuse certain materials. However, we have a stringent system of waste management under our group-wide ISO 14001 Environmental Management System to help monitor and understand our waste streams.
As mentioned above, we are doing our best to monitor and reduce fuel usage via many different innovations, improvements and initiatives.
This is just one of many natural resources we use. We are also trying to reduce the use of non-renewables in other ways. Two of our main depots have solar panels fitted and is creating enough electricity to run these depots as well as feeding back into the grid. We have limited down the use of gas heating down to only two depots. Most of our buildings have automatic LED lights.
Another way we are reducing the need for excavating fossil fuels is via our products. WJ has two manufacturing plants where we make our own hot thermoplastic products. One of the main ingredients to this type of product is resin. Originally, we have been using a petroleum-based resin, however, when a bio-based replacement surfaced on the market, we knew that there had to be a difference in our environmental impact had we swapped. We then set about trialling this and measuring the carbon footprint of our products, which was verified externally.
From these exercises, we learnt that not only is the quality of the products still the same, but we managed to reduce the carbon footprint for some recipes by 80%. This led to a complete swap to the bio-based resin to give one of the lowest carbon footprint thermoplastic product in the industry. Our Product carbon footprint calculator has gone on to win awards and peaked international interest and collaboration in our value chain. By understanding the whole life cycle of our products, we can improve it. Other ways that we have improved our thermoplastic products as well are using recycled glass beads and recycled aggregates. We have also created aluminium studs which require a lot less bitumen and need for taking out chunks on the road surface
This is the start of a successful journey to a decarbonised future.
Investing for the future is something we are very proud of here at WJ. We pioneer new and innovative technology and operating practices within the highways industry as part of our decarbonisation journey. It is through these we were able to gain the prestigious Carbon Trust Standard for the whole group.
From gaining the Carbon Trust Standard, it has shown that over the last 3 years, we have reduced our emissions per turnover as well as per mileage. Consecutively, 9.7% and 6.8%. This has proved to us that what we are doing has been successful and we need to constantly improve. Going ahead, we have plans to sign up to Net Zero by 2050 through setting a science-based target. This will then align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The decarbonisation journey is long and will require changes to an industry that is traditional. But as an industry, we will continue Protecting the Planet.