Link 51 achieved the accreditation ISO 14001 Environmental standard for the Shelving and Storage Division at the Brierley Hill site in October 2007 and for the Pallet Racking Site at Telford in April 2009. This complements the ISO 9001 Quality accreditation already held by Link 51, illustrating the commitment to operate and manufacture to the highest standards.
ISO 14001 is the internationally recognised standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS). Achieving this accreditation reflects the company’s commitment to reduce Link 51’s carbon footprint and minimise any adverse environmental impact throughout the design and manufacturing process.
In October 2007 Link 51 launched its environmental policy; an important step towards executing the Link 51 Sustainable Business Strategy.
The Link 51 Environmental Policy
The company is committed to:
- prevent pollution and nuisance
- comply with relevant environmental legislation and other requirements
- reduce the production of waste, encouraging wherever possible its recycling and manage the effective disposal of waste through approved agencies
- minimise the actual and potential environmental impacts associated with our activities
- minimise emissions to air
- evaluate environmental impacts when considering new plant, equipment or processes
- continual improvement through setting objectives and targets to address our significant aspects;
- encourage company-wide involvement by providing training to all staff on environmental issues and by providing opportunities for staff to contribute to environmental improvements
Whittan Storage Systems will achieve this through appropriate actions, including working pro-actively with employees, customers, contractors and other interested parties.
All elements of the environmental management system will be audited and reviewed at least annually.
Link 51 understand that achieving the 14001:2004 certification is only the first stage in the process and that continuous improvement and commitment to maintaining the environmental management systems is extremely important to the overall strategy of the business. The Link 51 environmental aims and objectives have formed part of a Company-wide initiative involving all of its employees.
In accordance with 14001 an ‘Environmental Effects Register ‘ was completed for Link 51 in 2007.
This identified key priorities and corrective actions that were required.
The key issues identified were:
- Emissions to Air
- Releases to Water
- Storage of Chemicals
- Waste Control
- Electricity and Gas Waste
- Visual Impact
Outstanding goals for Link 51 in 2012 include;
1. Identify further opportunities for energy saving
2. Ensure waste storage prevents pollution
3. Ensure compliance with permits, consents & other legal requirements
4. Investigate new technology for significant environmental reference
5. Obtaining FSC accreditation for the Brierley Hill and Telford Sites
Sustainable Procurement, Design and Recycling
Steel is one of the most recycled materials in the world. The International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI), estimates that the world recycling rate of steel is over 65%. As steel is recycled, it maintains its strength and integrity so it can be made into one quality product after another. Steel has an enormous advantage over other materials with respect to recycling in that it is magnetic. This allows for an efficient, automotive and low cost separation from other materials which can easily be incorporated into most waste-handling and recovery processes.
Materials are selected by Link 51 based on their ability to be recycled and sustainability of supply. All of Link 51’s current products can be recycled.
Link 51 is by far the largest user of steel in the steel storage industry, supplied by Corus and Arcelor Mittal.
Corus is the UK market leader and is widely recognised as Europe’s second largest steel producer with annual revenues of over £11 billion and a crude steel production of about 20 million tonnes. Corus is committed to minimising the environmental impact of its operations and its products through the adoption of sustainable practices and continuous improvement in environmental performance. Corus is a major partner in ULCOS (ultra-low CO2 steelmaking), a European research project to investigate technologies that could bring about a step-change reduction in CO2 emissions from the steelmaking process in the medium to long term. In the interim, the emphasis is on reducing emissions incrementally, wherever this is technically feasible and not prohibitively costly.
To date, over 86% of manufacturing operations have been certified to the independently verified international environmental standard, ISO 14001.
Arcelor Mittal is the largest global steel company in the market producing circa 10% of the world’s steel, with 310,000 employees in more than 60 countries. They have a leading reputation in the field of producing quality material. Arcelor has a strong record in reducing CO2 emissions. In Europe they have reduced the CO2 footprint of its steelmaking by more than 20% since 1990. They are currently working with the International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI) to develop a sector approach to CO2 monitoring and reduction, to be supported by all major steel producing countries, which would assess the actual reduction potential through a reliable measurement of current CO2 emissions and performance analysis.
Overall, Arcelor’s target is to achieve ISO 14001 certification of 162 sites, including both production and non-production facilities. By the end of 2007, 141 Arcelor Mittal sites attained certification, with the remaining sites planned to be certified by the end of 2008.
Link 51 operates an ISO9001 approved supplier appraisal and review system. The system is used as an integral part of the purchasing process in order to evaluate potential new suppliers and also to monitor existing key suppliers, thus ensuring Link 51 has the most efficient and effective supply chain available.
Link 51 specifically target quality and environmental accreditation, policies and procedures to gain an understanding of a company’s attitude and commitment towards these crucial business practices.
Link 51 purchases steel from ‘mini’ type steel mills fed with 100% recycled scrap metal. It also purchases from integrated steel mills fed from a combination of iron ore and recycled scrap metal. All Link 51 products are designed to ensure 100% re-use throughout the life span of the product and recycling at the end of its life.
An integrated mill uses between 11% and 26% scrap metal in the material mix. It is beneficial for the mill to use a higher content of scrap but this varies through availability.
By far the largest material consumption is steel. Link 51 is working closely with its suppliers to increase the recycled content of material through increased purchases from steel mills fed only from recycled scrap metal. Furthermore, the ‘mini mill’ process uses less energy to produce the steel than an integrated mill fed predominantly from iron ore.
Through the management programme Link 51 are currently reviewing identification methods for its various products and respective materials to support the recycling process at the end of the products life span.
Link 51 product designs make the maximum use of mechanical fixings such as bolts and clipping systems, minimising the use of permanent fixings such as welding to ensure the product can be dismantled to its pre-constructed state, transported and re-used.
Furthermore once the product is dismantled at the end of its life span the material can be more easily disposed of through the respective waste stream for recycling.
Product Life Cycle Assessment
Link 51 conducts product life cycle assessments as part of its overall ISO standards and objectives. This method assessment determines the environmental impacts of products, processes or services, through production, usage, and disposal.
This is a systematic procedure for compiling and examining the inputs and outputs of materials and energy and the associated environmental impacts directly attributable to the functioning of a product or service system throughout its life cycle.
This looks at the consecutive and interlinked stages of a product or service system to final disposal.
The technique for assessing the potential environmental aspects and potential aspects associated with a product (or service), are:
- compiling an inventory of relevant inputs and outputs,
- evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with those inputs and outputs,
- interpreting the results of the inventory and impact phases.
This involves analyses of production systems and provides comprehensive evaluations of all upstream and downstream energy inputs and multimedia environmental emissions.
Packaging and Labelling
A fundamental part of the Link 51 Environmental Management System (EMS) is the reduction of waste. This is to be achieved by reviewing processes and enhancing the opportunity to recycle materials for both Link 51 and their customers.
As part of the Management Plan Link 51 are investigating how it can best employ existing labelling conventions to aid recycling, particularly with regard to the plastic packaging and components it uses and sells.
Plastic shrink film is the most commonly used packaging material for Link 51 products. A programme is underway to reduce the amount used and to investigate the practicality of “labelling” the film to aid recycling using ASPI standard marking codes.
A guide to the various symbols used for plastic recycling can be here: Plastic Recycling Symbols Explained
Link 51 commissioned the Carbon Trust to carry out an opportunities assessment at its premises in July 2007. The view was to provide broad recommendations of where energy savings can be made and the amount of expenditure, which can be reduced by these actions.
When all the prioritised measures are implemented the aggregated savings from the measures identified represent a 3.9% reduction in energy consumption and a 5.3% reduction in cost. The implementation of the measures will particularly contribute towards the Confederation of British Metal Forming Sector’s CCA targets.
Objectives of the Assessment
The objective of the visit was to produce a report highlighting important activities that the site needs to undertake to save both carbon dioxide and its associated expenditure.
The survey itself focused on the following principle areas, which were identified during the survey:
- Compressed Air Systems
- Motors and Drives
- Process Machinery
- General Good Practice
- Energy Awareness
The areas of the sites under the survey were:
- Manufacturing Plant
- All Plant Rooms
It was found that the Link 51 processes already incorporate several energy saving techniques, which demonstrated the companies underlying good attitude to energy use. The most significant of these were as follows:
Compressed Air – At all sites, compressed air usage is approached in a sensible manner with fixed speed screw compressors handling base-load in conjunction with inverter drive screw compressors carrying out modulating load duties in response to pressure variance.
Paint Plant – All paint plants have interlocking devices where upon detection of conveyors carrying no parts for treatment will switch pumps off and turn paint and drying oven flames down to low.
Rolling Mills – All prime moving parts are turned off whilst no process is carried out.
The assessment involved a review of the current energy situation, including site energy consumption and spend, energy management practices, energy saving opportunities:
Action points following this report included the following areas for improvements;
1. Changing pumps on the paint plan to lower ratings
2. Using compressor heating systems in certain areas
3. Changing lighting to high bay fluorescent with PIR switches to allow lights to be turned off for infrequent usage
The Local Environment
The Link 51 manufacturing plants are all located in close proximity to residential areas. The Brierley Hill production facility in particular runs parallel with a local canal network, situated opposite a school and in close proximity to a major shopping centre that serves the local area. Link 51 recognises the duties and responsibilities that are placed upon it to exercise due diligence for the local community and avoid nuisance or distress to the public.
As part of the 14001 management programme for the site there were specific targets achieved with regard to this ongoing challenge. In particular the creation and correct use of waste segregation systems on site as well as the improved visual impact concerning the aesthetics to the entrance of the shopping complex and surrounding areas.
The assessment of noise levels from the site is conducted every 2 years to ensure that there are no negative effects on the local community.
The Link 51 controls and commitment to minimising its nuisance levels and impact on the environment are measured by customer complaints. Link 51 has received no complaints from neighbouring organisations and the local public in recent years. This is testament to the success of the management process in place.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
Under new government regulations issued in January 2007 we are all obliged and must play our part to ensure that the amount of waste on certain electrical and electronic equipment is reduced going forward. Furthermore where it is produced as waste we must work together to ensure that it is separated from household waste, collected separately and ultimately disposed of in a sound environmental manner (recycled and recovered).
In essence some of the chemicals and metals in these electrical items can be harmful to the soil and human health when disposed of in landfill sites. By adopting the new regulations and working together we can all reduce the amount of landfill and resulting contamination.
For your part as the customer you are encouraged to examine your electrical waste before throwing it away and in particular look for the rating plate and if the following logo is present you must not throw it in your household waste.
The customer is responsible for disposing of the WEEE at the end of its useful life unless otherwise agreed as part of our contractual terms & conditions of sale.
Please take this waste to your nearest Designated Collection Facility (DCF) where special facilities exist for correct disposal. To find your nearest DCF please visit the following web site:http://www.recycle-more.co.uk. Type in your postcode and the locations of the nearest DCFs will be displayed.
For our part we are members of a compliance scheme which makes financial contribution towards the running of these facilities and the onward recycling of this waste.