We understand the criticality of protecting our planet’s natural resources, ecosystems and biodiversity. As a responsible business we’re committed to minimising our impact on the environment and the communities we engage with, ensuring our business practices today support a sustainable tomorrow.

‘2 Zero 20’ plastic reduction campaign

At Brakes, we believe in acting today to protect tomorrow. Across our three CSR focus areas of Products, Planet, People, our activities ensure we support every community we engage with, source our products responsibly, and protect the natural resources of our planet.

Our commitment is to be a plastic responsible foodservice provider, and we have launched our collaborative '2 Zero 20' campaign and pledge to eliminate all non-recyclable hard black plastic from all our own brand products in our supply chain by 2020, starting with immediate effect with all new own brand products we introduce into the business.

2 Zero 20 pledge

Press release

Carbon Footprint Reduction

Climate change is one of the biggest environmental threats the world is currently facing. We know that we can help to limit our own impact with some changes to our business, particularly in our operations.

Being energy efficient isn’t just the right thing to do; many of the responsible business practices we adopt also help us lower our running costs. We use proven technologies to continuously improve resource efficiency across our distribution system of depots and transportation.

In 2010 we set ourselves a carbon reduction target of 20% by 2020: we’ve already achieved this, hitting 21% reduction in 2017!

We did this through introducing a number of energy efficient practices:

  • Replacing older vehicles with new, more environmentally-friendly ones
  • Consolidating our network - our new, purpose-engineered sites are more energy efficient with features like LED lighting, rainwater harvesting and more efficient plants with heat recovery facility
  • More efficient routes (multi-temperature, better planning) reduce our mileage and therefore our emissions

Our new carbon reduction targets are:

  • 25% by 2020*
  • 30% by 2025*

*(compared to 2010 emissions)

ISO 14001 – certified environmental management

ISO 14001 is an internationally-recognised standard of operational management; Brakes is accredited to the 2015 standard. The 14001 mark requires us to have a clear, recorded environmental management system based around a “Plan, Do, Check, Act” approach. To meet this standard, we document different operating procedures within our network (e.g. monitoring and measuring our utilities, diesel, waste, gases in our fridge plants).

We set ourselves objectives and targets by identifying our environmental performance from different documents including our aspects and impacts register, and are audited annually to make sure we’re sticking to every part of this standard (including efforts to continually improve our practices and minimise our impact on the environment even more).

To reduce our footprint as much as possible, we’ll continue to explore energy efficiency ideas – like solar and wind power, cleaner fuel for our fleet, and the next level of ISO accreditation, 500001.

Case Study: Building energy-efficient depots – Reading

Our Reading depot was built with the environment in mind, using the latest available technologies to create a site that recycles resources, maximises utility usage and limits its impact on the environment as much as possible. Its features include:

  • A specialist cooling system (VRTX Cooling Tower System) which allows environmentally-friendly control of scale, corrosion and bacteria using the natural chemical reactions of high-pressure, rotating water streams – scale prevention, for example, provides a 5% energy efficiency saving.

The automatic water filtration of this system removes any remaining particles, leaving the condenser water so clear that it doesn’t have to go to the sewer – reducing water usage at the site by 23%, and trade effluent by 100%, without the need for any additional chemicals.

  • A responsive fan motor control system (Electronically Commutated Fan Motors), which varies fan speeds depending on the temperature in the warehouse stores. Fans speed up when the temperature is higher than the set points and stop when these are reached – this means the fans don’t run continuously, saving us over 44,000 kWh per year
  • Loading bay door insulation of 80mm (twice the thickness of standard insulation) and triple-glazed windows to maintain internal temperatures with less energy
  • LED lighting and rainwater harvesting

Waste Reduction & Management

We recognise the importance of limiting our impact on the environment, of which waste management is a significant part, and have measures in place to ensure we do the very best we can in reducing the different types of waste within our supply chain.

  • Currently we are certified ‘zero waste to landfill’ and have a recycling rate of 66% - our recycling rate increased in 2017 from 50% to 66%. By the end of 2018 we’re aiming for a recycling rate of 75%
  • Where possible we would donate food to our Meals & More clubs and to the charity FareShare, where shelf life allows and it is safe to do so. We monitor waste regularly at various points in our supply chain to make sure we are not losing food through poor stock rotation
  • We subscribe to the principle of DEFRA’s (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) waste hierarchy which prioritises prevention, preparation for re-use and recycling over disposal
  • We have a partnership with biodiesel company Olleco, who collect waste vegetable oil from our customers on request. We encourage our customers to partner with us in this activity by giving them a small amount of credit for their next purchase

Supplier partnership – ACM Environmental

We work closely with our waste brokers, ACM Environmental, to monitor and improve all our waste processes. Our partnership together has helped us reach milestones like our recycling rates and zero waste to landfill.

Improving recycling rates with clearer signage at depots

Creating an industry packaging forum to reduce and eliminate disposable plastics

Donating surplus stock to charities and local holiday clubs

Environmental Innovation

Every year brings new developments in technology that can help us lower our energy use, emissions, costs and ultimately our impact on the planet. We follow these developments closely to understand how we might adopt them into the Brakes supply chain.

Purpose-engineered depots

All our new depots since 2011 have been designed to have energy efficiency measures, which we are also installing at older sites when possible. These include LED lighting, rainwater harvesting and efficient route planning to travel fewer miles, as well as our standard waste management methods as dictated by our environmental management system (see above). These sites are BREEAM-certified; BREEAM is a method for planning properties that are built to a high specification of environmental sustainability.

We’re also exploring new practices to reduce our waste and emissions by testing these at a couple of sites to see how we might incorporate them into the wider network:

  • Sub-metering, trialed at 2 sites so far, to track our utilities usage more accurately
  • Natural energy sources (solar, wind turbines)
  • The requirements of ISO 50001 – an additional ISO standard that we will bring in to work alongside the 14001 accreditation. ISO 15001 focuses on the energy we use within our operations, and requires us to actively reduce our usage of natural resources
  • Alternative fuel with lower harmful emissions

Case study: Delivering a cleaner-burning fuel for London

Working with our fuel partner Certas Energy, we’ve switched all our DAF 18-tonne trucks operating in Central London from diesel to the cleaner burning Shell GTL Fuel. This has an immediate impact, instantly reducing the harmful emissions from these trucks.

We’ve branded the trucks with their tagline – “Delivering on a cleaner-burning diesel alternative for London” – to promote our commitment to lowering emissions in the city with the highest air pollution levels in the UK. We’ve also started using the fuel in some of our Mercedes trucks, and are looking at where else we can use this fuel.

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