Innovative initiatives helping Swish Building Products achieve carbon neutral objective

July 15, 2022 at 2:29 PM

Corporate Environmental Responsibility has been at the core of Swish’s business processes since 2008 and over the past 14 years several innovative engineering solutions have been introduced to help it achieve its environmental goals.  Looking to the future, Swish is working to reduce its carbon footprint even further by aiming for carbon neutrality.  Alan Tunnicliffe, Technical Director at Swish, explains how they plan to achieve this:

“We have been monitoring our energy usage, measured as kilowatt hours per production tonne, closely for many years and exploring various processes that will enable us to reduce our energy intensity. Conventional solutions, for example the installation of LED lighting and heat recovery procedures, are working well, especially when used in conjunction with more bespoke innovations, such as systems that can monitor the usage and voltage of a machine and turn it off if it is no longer providing useful work. These initiatives alone are helping to make us 35 percent more energy efficient than before we started this journey.  


“Another example of our dedication to reducing energy intensity is our investment in new injection moulding machinery for the production of our rainwater systems. Throughout 2022 we are looking to replace ten of our existing machines, at a cost of over £1 million, with more technologically advanced machines. This new technology will enable us to be 60 to 65 percent more energy efficient in our injection moulding processes.

Climate change commitment

“As with many companies who are serious about reducing their energy consumption, Swish entered into a climate change agreement with the Government in 2008. It is a demonstration of our commitment to reducing our energy usage year on year as well as holding us accountable if progress is not made.

“To date, Swish is one of the 40 percent of companies signed up to this pledge that has delivered on its energy reduction promise. The other 60 percent of companies which failed to reach their targets have had to buy ‘carbon credits’ to offset their inefficiency. Compared to these businesses, Swish is ahead of the curve with regards to reducing its energy usage and continues to progress towards its carbon neutral goal thanks to its industry leading approach.

Expanding electrification to reduce our Carbon Footprint

“We believe the electrification of business processes is a key component to delivering carbon neutrality. We have invested in EV charging points for company cars and site visitors and are looking to replace our fleet of LPG powered forklift trucks with battery powered machines. We are also investigating the use of solar panels on our warehouse roofs, as a way of creating our own electric power.

“To date, 59 percent of the power we use on a day-to-day basis is electric which has resulted in a 65 percent reduction in our carbon footprint. This can be attributed to our many initiatives, but it is also due to the grid becoming greener thanks to the utilisation of alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind power. Consequently, a greater use of electricity will further help to reduce our carbon footprint without us having to compromise on output or quality and help us reach our target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.


Challenging the norm

“However, we are not completely naïve and there are still many challenges to overcome to reach our goals. We run our own fleet of HGV vehicles and although we manage routes and deliveries to make them as efficient as possible, these vehicles are still diesel powered. Diesel currently comprises 35 percent of our power usage, but we are researching various ‘carbon off-setting’ initiatives to help minimise our environmental impact.

“The British Standards Institute (BSI) is one such organisation that is supporting its clients in embedding sustainability standards and best practice into their businesses. Its advice is helping us identify legitimate ‘carbon off-setting’ solutions which are more robust to help achieve carbon neutrality. The BSI and BBA is also helping us tackle our net zero target, which is a more complicated goal to achieve.

“To attain net zero, our entire supply chain must be carbon neutral – from the raw materials we

use to the way they are delivered. We also must look at our own products from ‘cradle to grave’.

A sustainable future

“We know there is a long way to go before Swish becomes a net-zero company, but we have aligned ourselves with the governments deadline of 2050 and intend to meet it. In the meantime, we will be working closely with our employees, stakeholders, and customers to ensure we reach our carbon neutral goal, and that sustainability remains at the heart of our business processes and relationships.”