Shopping Cart0 item - £0.00
You have no items in your shopping cart.
The Lush Create Earth Care Team
Invited Green Business Dorset to meet the newly formed Lush Earth Care team to learn more about their initiative to create a dedicated management team for sustainable campaigns, new legislation and technology. Here I talk to the Earth Care Team, Suzy Hill and Jack Gale, about everything from influencing and securing a continued supply chain, to changing mindsets, energy management, recycling, legislation, packaging and more…
For the very few of you who believe you are not familiar with the £454M Lush brand, you will have at some point found yourself shopping somewhere in the world and breathing in a very fresh and special aroma. At that moment you will have just walked past one of their 935 stores worldwide.
Dorset and Lush
Dorset is very much the home of Lush and where their first products were launched back in 1995 by the same husband and wife team who own the company today – and four co-founders, although their actual business goes back even further. Poole is where the first of their 935 stores was opened.
Lush products include the bath bomb, synonymous with the Lush brand, soaps, shower gels, shampoos, hair conditioners, bubble bars, face masks, hand and body lotions – catering for various skin types.
The name Lush derives from ‘fresh and green’ and today, as always, the business is run on a culture that lives, eats and breathes sustainability. Dominating the landscape in Poole, Dorset – the company has a total of 23 sites in the Borough, from their recycling plant, to manufacturing, storage and offices – and, they are by far its largest employer.
What the Earth Care Team Stands for
Lush is living proof that what you stand for, stands you in good stead for a successful business. The Earth Care team is passionate about caring for the Earth and works alongside the company as it manages one of the largest organisations in the UK – and certainly one of its greatest exports. It is the team’s responsibility to ensure that all this carried out whilst remaining continually mindful of its environmental impact.
The idea of the team is also to inspire others by encouraging, supporting, facilitating and celebrating an ‘earth care’ attitude within their own business – while through their actions facilitating a knock on effect of change in how other businesses and consumers view their own actions.
A tall order you may think, but it is clear the Lush team take this very much in their stride and consider it just another part of doing business.
Nurturing a mindset
“Before we embark on anything product or business related, the first thing we do is to question it,” said Suzy Hill, Lush Earth Care Team Facilitator. “Do we need to do it at all? Do we need to do it that way? Does it need to be produced that way? Is there are better, more sustainable way? Does it need that type of packaging? How can we reduce the packaging? What about transport etc.
In short, is there a better way to bring it to market or to the process? And, what are the implications now and further down the road to what we are doing and – how can we turn that into a positive by re-using or re-cycling.”
Zoe worked for the company for 3 years before joining the Earth Care team, moving through the business starting at their retail outlets. This experience gave her a well rounded view of the business and is helping enormously with understanding how to review its processes from every angle.
“It is all about the mindset,” Suzy explains. “This is something we cultivate throughout the business and this is then passed on to the customer. For example, we ask if our customer would like the packaging at the point of purchase, and we know from feedback that this has in turn made them question the packaging of other retailers.”
Creating Green Champions
Lush ensures their entire team is behind Earth Care, especially as this has been a company philosophy right from the start and all the staff understands this. Indeed, it is this strategy that has made them a sought after employer in Poole – and around the world.
“Within manufacturing, Earth Care run a Green Team,” explains Suzy. “We meet every Friday and this is where we can pass on information on new projects we are embarking on, provide updates on existing projects and benefit from new ideas from the teams themselves. Following our meetings and brainstorming sessions the team is then able to go away and impart this knowledge to those they work with – and this ensures everyone is aware of what is happening at Lush. This level of communication helps keep us all interested and motivated – after all, this is a team effort and it is what we are all about.”
Lush also adopts a questions forum with their management team – and this resonates across the globe. There is also a Sustainable Lush Fund – SLush Fund as I later saw it called, which looks at funding worthwhile projects on a global basis. But moving beyond simply buying fairly traded ingredients and, instead, developing supportive partnerships with the communities that produce them.
Influencing the Supply Chain
I put the question to Suzy and Jack, in terms of their material supply chain and how they ensure they share the mindset that is so carefully nurtured at Lush. “Our Creative Buyers believe in creating long term partnerships, working directly with producers wherever possible and visiting suppliers on the ground,” replied Suzy. “This allows us to understand the processes involved and fosters relationships that are collaborative and transparent, allowing us to work together to share best practices and ensure our suppliers understand our environmental and ethical aspirations.”
Rosewood oil project – The Peruvian Rainforest
Lush use Rosewood essential oil in some of their formulas for its beneficial properties (antiseptic, antibacterial and stimulating) – as well as for its wonderful warm and deep scent.
Rosewood is now listed as an endangered tree species due to its over exploitation for furniture making and for distillation into an oil for the perfumery industry.
Five years ago Lush committed to decrease their usage of this oil and to consciously work on contributing to the conservation of the endangered tree within its natural habitat.
Rosewood in native to – and thrives in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon. Here, the trees are increasingly being felled in unsustainable numbers.
In an attempt to demonstrate how rosewood oil could be obtained in a sustainable manner, securing current and future conservation of the species, Lush created a model for producing their own essential oil in situ.
As an alternative to logging and destroying the whole tree, a coppicing method is used by which smaller branches are used, allowing the tree to regenerate. A re planting management plan was also designed and endorsed by the local Forestry Department.
The funds from the purchase of the oil to Lush goes directly to supporting internship programmes for local Shipibo community on forest conservation and ecological agriculture to ensure the regeneration of the forest species in Peru. To find out more visit https://www.lush.co.uk/rosewood-oil
“We always aim to find solutions to the continuous survival of the ingredients and materials we require, whilst protecting them for the future and the future of the livelihoods where each is located,” Suzy told me.
This is described as permaculture and represents ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’, aiming to embrace the social culture so important for sustainability. The term combines three elements, including environmental sustainability, socio-economic justice, a holistic understanding of the processes and relationships in nature and a systemic design framework. The emphasis is on ‘observing before doing’ and you can find more of what this means at Lush via https://www.lush.co.uk/article/what-permaculture-0
Almost half the Lush products can be taken home from their stores with no packaging. “It is the customer’s choice,” explains Suzy. The ethos of the business is to create products that require no packaging where possible, or where they do, ensure that the packaging is kept to a minimum. There are various, smart initiatives in place – with one to offer a free ‘fresh face’ mask for every five of their black pots a customer returns. The pots themselves are already made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic, as are the plastic bottles.The Earth Care team is also headed up by Jack Gale who manages the company’s Utility Projects. Jack also worked for Lush for two and half years prior to taking up his present role, and now researches and oversees the utilities, technology and legislation as part of the companies Environmental Management.
The Dawkins Road site in Poole is home to the company’s 20,000sq ft plastic and cardboard recycling plant. “All our cardboard goes through a bailer, said Jack. “It is also recycled for further use and at the same plant we are turning our plastic into products which can be used again. We also create our own wood chip and use it to heat one of our Poole facilities via Biomass Heating.”
Find out more from their buyers and Green Team Manager by watching this video:
Legislation and Technology
“As a result of our turnover exceeding 50M Euros and number of employees above 250 we fall under the government’s new ESOS directive – or, Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme,” Jack confirms. “This means we must comply with regulations concerning our energy by the December deadline. We have been working with an ESOS assessor; however, we are already the majority of the way there in terms of compliance simply because of the sustainable practice we have always adopted. This is also something I am looking at studying, to enable us to continue to comply with evolving ESOS regulations in-house.”
As a Poole based business, Lush has joined the Borough’s Positive Environmental Action Scheme – or PEA Scheme, as it is better known. The scheme is designed to provide energy audits for local business, local authority, organisations and charities and in doing so make suggestions on energy saving measures through their partner supplier businesses. This helps the organisations themselves in terms of energy cost reduction and the Borough of Poole by helping to reduce the carbon impact of Poole. And the initiative has now also been extended to include business from Christchurch and East Dorset.
Infrared Heat Technology
Many of the PEA Scheme delivery partner businesses joined the scheme from the B2B group Green Knowledge Network – including Eco Infrared Technologies. “The PEA scheme introduced us to some new, local technologies,” explains Jack. “We are now working with Eco Infrared Technologies in Bournemouth.” The company install low energy heat panels, under-floor heating, heat mats, carbon boilers and solar PV heat panel solutions. “We were extremely interested in this as a low energy, low cost heat source – which will have an extremely positive effect on our carbon impact, added Jack.”
Eco Infrared Technologies has now installed individual heat platforms in some of their Poole factories. “Infrared Heating technology acts to heat the person first and not the space around them – or above them as traditional heat tends to rise,” explains Jack. “In a case where one member of staff feels the cold and another doesn’t, these products are ideal. They can be individually controlled, so everyone is happy without high impact on costs or the environment.”
Russ Ustinovicius, Managing Director at Eco Infrared Technologies also reports the health benefits of infrared heating, which creates a movement of the heat in the body through optimum blood circulation. This, in turn, produces a sense of deep warmth and is also good for people with health conditions such as asthma or bronchial ailments, as the heat method does not create air currents that increase dust circulation. For homes and working space with unwanted humidity as an issue, the technology also prevents this and the undesirable mould that can result.
Lush has also installed Eco Infrared Technologies heated mirrors is some of their stores, which prevent mirrors from steaming up.
Directing the heat –with Destratification Equipment
Back in 2012 Lush contacted the Dorset business Airius Limited, suppliers of Destratification Equipment. “At our Hatchpond Road site we were experiencing problems in terms of cold working temperatures and in turn the extremely high cost of gas to heat the facility,” explains Jack. “Naturally, if you have high gas costs you are using a large amount of energy and this was not acceptable in terms of our environmental values for the business.”
Heat Dissipation in Large Volume Space…
Airius destratification units work with existing HVAC units and re-circulate heat back down to floor level. This is particular important in areas with large volume space, as heat naturally rises and is wasted by ending up where you don’t need it – while staff and visitors are not benefiting from the high cost of that heat. This is also likely to have an impact on production.
A continuous circulation of air mixes the internal air until temperatures become balanced and equalised between the floor and the ceiling – known as thermal destratification.
Green Business Dorset contacted Airius to discuss the Lush project and, from an originally estimated saving of some 35% in energy, the reality turned out to be as much as 61% following installation.
|Return on investment||Just 26 days|
|Previous Heat Spend||£26,638.83|
|Post Airius Destratification System||£7,333.38|
|Full system installation cost||£2,967.50|
|Annual running cost of system||£68.75|
|Benefit||Re-circulates process heat, enabling free heating.|
The Hatchpond Road Factory was a good test case for trying this technology,” added Jack. “This process significantly reduces the amount of heat required to maintain desired temperatures within an internal space – and in turn costs.”
Measure your Energy
“My colleague Suzy and I attended an event in March where a company called Measure My Energy were speakers,” Jack told me.
“We were very impressed with the level of detail and insight that the system provides. We’ve always been keen to monitor our energy consumption beyond monthly meter readings to allow us to campaign on efficiency improvements and justify technology improvements across our 130 UK properties.
To start our energy efficiency journey, we’ve installed in all of our high energy consumption manufacturing units in Poole and 19 shops. We look forward to working with MME to see some results soon!”
The Measure My Energy product will also form part of the Lush Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) compliance, a project which Jack heads up across the Lush group.
Rain Water Harvesting
Jack explained, “Water is an extremely important commodity at Lush, so we have incorporated rain water harvesting to make use of as much naturally generated water as possible – which means less impact on the water supplied to us.”
Low Energy Lighting
“We have installed the tile LED lighting in our offices,” said Jack. “And LED lighting provides very real savings in terms of energy costs, as well as on the environment.
Bottle Top Return Scheme
No matter where the bottle top comes from, or is used on, Lush began an initiative with schools and the public to collect them and bring them into stores all over the country. “Word spread so fast that we were also approached by local councils,” added Suzy. We are now trialling the tops to create long lasting and durable work and table tops that are as multi-coloured as the tops themselves. This has been a great initiative for getting local communities involved – and one we are very proud of for that reason. We want to share ideas and have those ideas make a real difference.”
What next for Lush
So, what next I ask the Earth Care team, well aware that they – and everyone else at Lush is showing no signs whatsoever of slowing down. “Lots in terms of projects”, answered Jack, with Suzy nodding in reply. “Primarily I would have to say Germany,” he adds. “We are looking at setting up a centre of excellent in the Country to provide the ideal gateway for manufacture and transportation around Europe. The centre will also go some way to addressing the massive growth the company is under-going in Europe – and around the world, as well as supporting its growth plans for the future.
Suffice to say, this growth will be managed with the utmost care for the environment, and the Lush story – as with others we have reported on at Green Business Dorset, clearly demonstrates that a greener strategy also means a cost reducing strategy and therefore a win-win for the future of your business.