The human race makes almost one billion tons of plastic every three years. The malleable material is made from synthetic compounds that are cheap to manufacture, durable to use but take years to decompose – as many as 1,000 with some materials.
This has been a challenging environmental issue for years and many people may not have appreciated or realised the direct impact their social footprint has – until recently.
August 2017 saw the United States of America pull out of the Paris agreement, sparking a huge environmental backlash around the globe. This was followed by the airing of BBC’s Blue Planet ll in October 2017 which showed harrowing images of animals caught up in plastic waste. This has since caused many people and businesses to look at their social footprint and see how they can improve it.
Here at Silentnight, we’ve been looking at all parts of our business to see how we can become more efficient and sustainable.
Starting in the factory, we’ve stopped double bagging mattresses when they come off the production line and go out for delivery. This means we reduce plastic wastage by 50% while still keeping our product clean and delivered to you safely.
Taking this a step further, we have launched the Eco Comfort collection – a range of mattresses each made with 150 recycled plastic bottles. To make this happen, each bottle is crushed and spun into a fibre that is made into a breathable and sustainable comfort layer. In the past year alone, this has prevented 105m plastic bottles from entering the oceans and landfill – something we’re very proud of.
There will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 if mankind continues to ignore the warnings that are all around us – this has to stop. To help combat this we’ve teamed up with the UK’s leading marine charity, the Marine Conservation Society.
We have pledged financial support to them to help ensure our seas are healthy, clean and protected. Our staff will also be taking part in beach cleans to pick up litter and wider initiatives to help wildlife and know how to spot pollution.
Last year alone, the charity removed 568,000 pieces of litter from British beaches – a figure which we hope won’t be repeated this year.
Looking on the roads to our delivery fleet and the emissions produced by our factory, we are striving to be a carbon-neutral business by August 2018 with tree planting initiatives across Lancashire and the North West. We are also developing a new plan for fuel efficiency and looking at more effective route planning to cut down on fuel emissions.
At head office, we’re scrapping the sale of bottled water in the staff canteen. In place of this, we’re installing water coolers and working towards for the end of the year, giving all staff a refillable water bottle to use throughout the day.
We’re also removing all plastic sandwich wrapping, cutlery and introducing more recycling bins across the business. This is as well as reducing our lighting energy costs by 45 per cent and reducing our gas usage by £100k of turnover by 21 per cent from 2013 to 2016.
Finally, thinking about the customer journey. When people buy a new mattress, it’s likely that they have an old one they want to get rid of. To help with this, we offer a ‘trade in’ scheme which means anyone that buys a new Silentnight mattress via our website or showrooms in Manchester and Lakeside have the option to have their old mattress taken away and disposed of responsibly. At present, we recycle around 35,000 mattresses each year.
Steve Freeman, our managing director, said: “Programmes such as Blue Planet are showing us the true cost plastic waste has on the environment. Footage of birds attempting to feed pieces of plastic to their young is extremely hard-hitting and can be hard to watch.
“The world needs to change the way it deals with waste, and at Silentnight we are committed to doing our bit to lead the way, particularly with sustainability and recyclability.
“Sustainability has been ingrained within the business for a long time, but we are always looking at ways to adapt to become even more environmentally friendly.”
With all of these plans in place, we hope to make a difference and pledge our commitment to doing so on an ongoing basis. We don’t want to see anymore images of wildlife covered in plastic, mattresses washed up on beaches or tons of recyclable waste heading to landfill.