How often do you think about where your products come from? We are all becoming increasingly aware that the practices behind the brands matter. Environmental and social impacts, both positive and negative, are associated with everything we buy and use. We have got used to looking for ‘Fairtrade’ on some things – like chocolate, coffee, and clothing – but don’t these factors affect all the products, materials and services around us?
Original article at: www.accoya.com/uk/build-back-better/
By examining and understanding the impacts they have on the world, progressive businesses can shape the way they do things to ensure that what they do, what they make, and how they act can be a force for good. They can identify and choose to operate in a way that can benefit all types of stakeholders that they interact with, such as their employees, customers, suppliers, wider communities and the environment. Operating sustainably with an informed approach will ultimately help us all Build Back Better, creating stronger and more resilient businesses and having a positive impact on the world, the environment, and the communities around them.
Sustainability and purpose, integral to responsible business
At Accsys, our purpose is “Changing wood to change the world”, and we understand how the ‘green’ credentials of our product feed into overall business sustainability. Changing wood is what we do, changing the world is why we do it, and every time someone chooses to use our Accoya® or Tricoya® products they are making a decision with a positive environmental impact.
It’s not all just about the product though – to create the product, we have our business, and how we operate can be impactful too. In 2020, we looked to formalise our approach to sustainability of the overall business by developing our approach to ‘ESG’, which stands for Environmental, Social and Governance – a way of looking at how what we do affects the world and everyone around us.
We did our research and engaged with stakeholders inside and outside our organisation, identifying what we call our ten ‘material issues’ for ESG: the ten most pertinent issues to our business. These issues cover the whole breadth of ESG and they all have a role in delivering on our purpose, act according to our values, and make sure we are doing the right things, in the right ways.
Our choices for what products we use can contribute to a more sustainable world
If trees are good for the environment, isn’t cutting them down to make products a problem?
Unsustainable wood can have disastrous impacts – from Illegal logging, deforestation, violation of human rights, biodiversity loss and the removal of natural carbon sinks.
Here at Accsys, we only use timber that has been certified to be harvested responsibly from well-managed forests that are continuously replenished, not damaging the surrounding environment or native flora and fauna. 100% of the wood we use to make Accoya® and Tricoya® is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council certified), the most recognised global standard for assuring sustainable sourcing of wood.
What does Building Back Better mean for health and wellbeing?
In the developed world, it is estimated we spend more than 90% of our time indoors either at home or at work, and the presence of synthetic materials and chemicals in our products and surroundings can actually have a negative impact on our health and wellbeing. It has also been well-researched that, much like having plants in our offices and houses, having wood around us can have positive impacts on creativity, mood and stress. To make sure we contribute to this, we’ve achieved the highest (Platinum) Material Health rating for Accoya® from the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard: it is a certified non-toxic product. Our focus on innovation and technology continues to ensure that our wood is non-toxic, meeting high standards for human health.
What happens at the end of its product life? Can the wood also have circular economy benefits?
As well as lasting for decades (and with a warranty for 50 years for above ground use), Accoya® doesn’t contain any plastics or new elements that aren’t found naturally in wood: it’s biodegradable and can be handled in the same manner as raw wood at the end of life through recycling, composting or as a bio-based fuel source (as stated in the company’s KOMO product certificate and further evidenced by SHR – Wood Research Foundation Netherlands). It can even be up-cycled into Tricoya® wood chips, which are used to make high performance wood panels that can last decades more!
What about the transition to net zero economy?
At Accsys and through our flagship Accoya® wood product, we believe that our actions and those actions of our customers can help contribute to one of the biggest challenges of our time – combatting climate change and the transition to a net zero economy.
Wood sequesters carbon, meaning that it captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locks it in for its useful life, and the more durable and long lasting wood, alongside its use at end of life, can have a positive influence on the environment. Last year, our products locked in and safely stored around 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This means that everyone involved in the process to use Accoya®, from making and distributing it to the owner living with it, has helped take the equivalent of roughly 120 million miles of car driving emissions out of the atmosphere and store it safely in a useful, beautiful product.
Accountability, reporting and communications is vital
Underpinning everything we do, at Accsys, we are working towards the highest standards through our own internal mechanisms around data management, reporting, collaboration, problem solving and sharing of best practices and employee engagement. Alongside our internal mechanisms, we own accountability for our actions through our focus on external accreditations – both to keep us on the right track and to show how we ‘walk the walk’ as well as ‘talk the talk’.
Producing a Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Gold product isn’t just an accreditation, it’s about our ethos as a business, which includes the scope of environmental and social issues running through the whole way through our company, culture, values and purpose. Our environmental assessments and accreditations help us make sure we are contributing to ‘building back better’ through our processes and our products, and our customers support us in changing the world by choosing our products.