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Sustainability in the Supply Chain - Hanson UK

Jess Duffell 20 Oct 2015

Working in the sustainability sector, I often get invited to ‘sustainability stakeholder days’ and events for the ‘environmental professional’ but are any of these actually worth attending? In the main, you may not think it is worthwhile taking a day out of your busy schedule to attend but occasionally they can offer something just that little bit different that captures your imagination. The Hanson Stakeholder Day, held in London during September, was one such day. 

Following a personal recommendation from a colleague about the event, I went along, hopeful I might learn something new about the sustainability strategy and performance of one of BAM’s key players within our supply chain.

After the usual inductions, which included representatives from other contractors and the UK Green Building Council, Hanson gave a presentation about its progress and development. It is always interesting to hear first-hand about developments in the supply chain, which may ultimately help us to procure sustainable materials, and to construct better buildings. 

Hanson talked about their support and development of PAS 8820, a standard currently out for consultation, which guides manufacturers on how to produce concrete with a lower embodied carbon by having a minimum of 5% Portland cement.

The company also explained how it is looking into offering carbon offsetting to customers by protecting the Gola rainforest through involvement with Birdlife International (the parent company of the RSPB), and how it is meeting the requirements of the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme by ordering top-of-the-range trucks jam-packed with safety features.

As a final exercise in the morning, we reviewed Hanson’s 2015 Sustainability Report. Hanson was interested in our opinions on both its performance, and how it communicates it. Having a quick flick-through of Hanson’s summary report gave me confidence this is a business progressing well with all elements of sustainability, which really listens to its customers to improve its performance.

In the afternoon, we took a trip to Hanson’s concrete plant and cement depot at King’s Cross, the most productive of Hanson’s facilities, producing 188,000 tonnes of concrete last year and on track to to produce 215,000 tonnes in 2015. The scale of the operation is immense: two trucks are continually filled with concrete on a 24/7 basis for delivery to London and the wider area to help continue the City’s massive growth. As well as having a detailed tour which showed us how the concrete is made, we also learnt about some of the sustainable features of the plant – all material comes in via rail reducing 33 road journeys everyday, excess material from pours is returned for the production of concrete blocks used for improvement works around the facility, and the majority of trucks now have wash-out facilities where waste water is filtered and solids separated for reuse.

Another highlight of the visit was sitting in the cabin of one of Hanson’s newest trucks, getting a feel for what it is like being a driver of one of these huge pressurised, 44 tonne articulated concrete wagons in London city centre. Hanson uses its King’s Cross facility to increase pedestrian and cyclist awareness of blind spots by marking them out on the floor. Seeing this would definitely make any cyclist think twice before trying to nip past a truck just to get somewhere a bit faster! 

As well as being a great day out and meeting sustainability professionals from different organisations, I left the day with a feeling of positivity that one of the main players in our supply chain is doing what it can to shift its business towards a more sustainable solution. If all members of our supply chain did the same, we would be well on the way to having a much more sustainable industry. 


Jess Duffell is a Sustainability Advsior at BAM.

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