Profitable Sustainability Wins that You Can Achieve in 2017

As sustainability professionals, we are all looking for organisational actions that deliver sustainability benefits AND profit improvements within the year (let’s call them Sustainable Wins). Four often-overlooked actions are suggested below and the conversation continues at the Twitter hashtag #SustainableWins.

Pressure to produce in-year SustainableWins

As sustainability budgets are shrunk, sustainability professionals are under ever-increasing pressure to deliver environmental, social and economic benefits – all in the one year before budgets and KPIs reset and the annual cycle starts over again.

To achieve in-year profits, sustainability actions need a short lead-time, rapid payback (or low capital requirement) and of course significant environmental and/or social impact. There are not many opportunities like this and, in our experience, they can be easily overlooked.

Here are four examples that we have found which are new to many organisations:

  1. Remanufactured office furniture

Taking the long life elements of quality office furniture (like steel and aluminium frames), checking, recoating and then reassembling them with new outer parts to as-new condition is known as remanufacturing.

While this circular economy approach is new to the office furniture industry, most brand name photocopiers have seen up to seven previous lives, demonstrating the high quality results of remanufacturing.

Because the long life elements of office furniture are the most expensive (economically and environmentally), remanufacturing reduces the cost of a quality furniture item by around 50% and its environmental footprint by 80% (Giuntini & Gaudette, 2003; McKenna, 2012).

Organisations like the NHS are using remanufactured office furniture to improve their offices with high quality, beautiful, ergonomic, brand-name furniture at contract furniture prices.

Image: NHS Public Health Wales Cardiff office, designed and provided with remanufactured furniture by Rype Office. 94% of the furniture was remanufactured or refurbished.

You can read more about the project at the NHS Cardiff case study.

Remanufactured office furniture can be used for a new office or refurb, and also to replace individual chairs when they reach the end of their current life. Remanufacturing existing furniture reduces waste, embodied GHG and creates local jobs.

  1. Treasure Hunts

Treasure Hunts are a fun way for staff to take a fresh look at how a company’s day-to-day operations to find energy, water and waste savings.

Dividing up a site using teams and tracking progress to harness competitive spirit, staff examine everyday practices to find savings with zero or minimal capital requirements, This engages and trains  staff, leading to long term behaviour change.

A structured Treasure Hunt process can be done in as little as half a day and focuses on immediate or short term actions.

The savings are usually substantial. For example, a half day Treasure Hunt designed and facilitated by Lavery/Pennell for a global FMCG company identified savings of around €200,000 over the following year.

GE has used Treasure Hunts to train more than 3,500 of its employees globally to think about wasted energy and water in a different way. Those individuals have identified more than 5,000 projects worth $111M in operational cost savings and 700,000 tCO2e of GHG emissions reduction (Hancock, 2009).

Merck & Company, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, used Treasure Hunts to identify more than $12 million from five plants over a two year period. This achieved 20% of the company’s GHG reduction goal, while building employee awareness and enthusiasm for finding energy waste (US EPA, 2014).

While these examples are for manufacturers, Treasure Hunts can be used for all organisations to reduce waste, change staff behaviour and save money.

  1. Cut waste to landfill

In 2008, Unilever’s global manufacturing network sent 140,000 tonnes of waste to landfill. By 2015, 240 sites in 67 countries had diverted all of their non-hazardous waste away from landfill to uses including biofuel, compost and building materials, saving €200M p.a., generating new revenues and creating hundreds of new jobs.

In 2016 alone, 400 additional Unilever sites achieved zero hazardous waste to landfill, demonstrating that substantial progress and savings can be achieved in one year. Wastes included manufacturing waste as well as food waste from cafeterias, showing that savings are available for organisations beyond the manufacturing sector.

Reducing waste to landfill avoids disposal costs (including landfill taxes in the UK), creates revenues from sales of unwanted materials, reduces an organisation’s environmental footprint and generates employment.

Key to Unilever’s success was their crucial first step of thinking about waste as a resource which has value. This reframing of waste as a product to be sold enabled the team to find customers for each waste stream.

Where customers could not be found, alternative materials were sourced to ensure that the waste was saleable.

  1. Blow them all up

It is a little-known fact that four vehicle tyres under-inflated by 25 per cent (for example 24 instead of 32 psi) increases fuel consumption by approximately two per cent (Energy Saving Trust, 2013).

Correct inflation also saves on tyre replacement costs; when tyres are under-inflated, the contact patch with the road surface is concentrated towards the two outer edges of the tread. This leads to rapid wear on the shoulders, reducing tyre life.

There is also an HSE issue; under or over inflation of tyres affects grip and braking, reducing safety.

Checking tyre pressures does not have to be manual; some cars now come with tyre pressure monitoring on the dashboard and trucks can fit automatic tyre inflation devices (although this incurs capex which may take several years to pay back).


These are four actions that any organisation can do. Please add your ideas, thoughts and comments at Twitter hashtag #SustainableWins and keep checking in to find other great ideas.

Which of these actions will you be doing this year? If you have already done some of them, what were the savings that you achieved?



Energy Saving Trust, 2013. Cut business costs through improved van fleet management, Department for Transport,  January. Accessed on 8 January at

Giuntini, R., Gaudette, K., 2003. Remanufacturing: The next great opportunity for boosting US productivity, Business Horizons, Nov-Dec, p. 44.

Hancock, 2009. How GE’s ‘Treasure Hunts’ Discovered More Than $110M in Energy Savings, Greenbiz, 13 May. Accessed in 2013 at

Lavery, G.J., Pennell, N., Brown, S., Evans, S., 2013. The Next Manufacturing Revolution: Non-Labour Resource Productivity and its Potential for UK Manufacturing, July.

McKenna, R., 2012.  President and CEO, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, Testimony before the International Trade Commission on: Remanufactured Goods: An Overview of the U.S. and Global Industries, Markets, and Trade, Investigation No. 332-525, Feb.

Unilever, 2016. Unilever announces new global zero non-hazardous waste to landfill achievement, 11 February. Accessed on 5 January 2017 at

US EPA, 2014. Energy Treasure Hunt Guide: Simple Steps to Finding Energy Savings, Document Number 430-R-14-001, January.

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Circular resource use creates office furniture savings

logoback3You can now buy as-new remade office furniture for less than half the new recommended retail price, thanks to circular resource use.

Used and recyclable have limits

While used office furniture has always been an option, it has traditionally involved compromising on quality. And some manufacturers produce furniture that can be recycled, but this does not usually provide cost savings for buyers.

Remanufacturing is better

Remanufacturing involves none of the quality compromises while bringing substantial cost and environmental savings, as discussed in the Next Manufacturing Revolution report.

Here is how Rype Office, an award-winning furniture company using Circular Economy principles, does it:

Rype Office takes the long life components of used furniture, like steel frames which last for hundreds of years, and rebuilds the rest of the piece around them. Modern precision equipment and the latest resurfacing technologies produce high quality pieces that look like new – a real alternative to expensive new furniture.

Those long life components are the most expensive and environmentally harmful to make new, so the cost is reduced by half and the environmental footprint by more than two thirds.

High quality furniture at a good price

For example, the remanufactured Orangebox G64 shown below (a leading ergonomic chair still in production having sold 1.3 million) is indistinguishable from new. Rype Office sells it for £240 compared to the new recommended retail price of £600.



End of life savings too

Consistent with the principles of the Circular Economy (as espoused by the Next Manufacturing Revolution, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and The Great Recovery), Rype Office offers to lease its furniture or buy it back furniture at the end of each life. This saves customers on disposal costs while enabling the furniture to be remanufactured over and over. Or customers can have their furniture remanufactured by Rype Office for even greater savings.

New delivery model

Rype Office has recognised that to offer circular office furniture, a new business model is needed, beyond the traditional furniture manufacturing and distribution model.

For example, Rype Office provides a design and project management service to deliver attractive, productive, healthy, low footprint offices at a budget-friendly price. Distribution agreements with high quality manufacturers allow Rype Office to also source new pieces that can be remanufactured in the future – so clients can also have the latest designs in their furniture mix.

Contact details

Rype Office can be contacted at: email phone 079 0016 3409.



Dr Greg Lavery is a Director of Lavery/Pennell a consulting and venturing company focussed on rapid sustainable innovation. Lavery/Pennell is a founding member of the Next Manufacturing Revolution and was the lead author of the Next Manufacturing Revolution report. Rype Office was designed by Lavery/Pennell and the author is a Director.

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RGS Discussion on the Future of Manufacturing

Wednesday 25 March 2015, 7.00pm – 8.30pm

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), London, SW7 2AR

Robots, 3D printers, the Maker movement, and the impacts of globalisation are revolutionising UK manufacturing.

Where will the factories of the future be and what will they make? How can the UK adapt to the challenges, create jobs and provide the next generation with appropriate skills?

Join the Royal Geographical Society for a discussion on how the UK can capitalise on its proud history to build a manufacturing powerhouse fit for the 21st Century.

Tickets: £10 (£7 RGS-IBG members).

This is a public event and all are welcome to attend.

Book Online or contact the RGS-IBG events office:

T: +44 (0)20 7591 3100



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NMR part of an ‘Economy that Works’

ecomony_that_works2The Next Manufacturing Revolution and New Industrial Model reports have been cited in the Aldersgate Group’s December 2014 publication An Economy that Works.

You can read this report at An Economy that Works.

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Remanufacturing Triple Win Report Released

Triple_win_report3The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing and Sustainable Resource Groups yesterday released a new report presenting the economic, social and environmental potential of remanufacturing and recommending a range of government support measures.

Drawing on evidence including the Next Manufacturing Revolution and New Industrial Model reports, the publication is well timed to influence party manifestos in the lead-up to the 2015 General Election. NMR’s Professor Steve Evans and Dr Greg Lavery were members of the Steering Group.

The report can be downloaded here: Triple Win: The Economic, Social and Environmental Case for Remanufacturing.

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Remanufactured office furniture offers savings and insights

officelandscapeblogshotThe Next Manufacturing Revolution identified remanufacturing as a £5B p.a. opportunity for UK manufacturers, which could create 300,000 new skilled jobs.

Office furniture was identified as having a particularly low remanufacturing rate of just 1%.

To demonstrate the value of remanufacturing, NMR co-founder Lavery/Pennell has launched an office furniture remanufacturing business called Rype Office ( Insights and learnings from this business will be fed back to the Next Manufacturing Revolution community.

Rype Office provides quality brand-name remade office furniture in as-new condition with a warranty – but at around 50% of the cost of new and with substantial sustainability benefits.

The business is adopting ‘servitisation’, a business model investigated by the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing, enabling customers to lease the furniture – or buy it with a guaranteed buy-back. The business can also remake clients’ existing furniture.

Rype Office has already been awarded by the RBS Innovation Gateway for its innovative approach.

This is a rare example of the Circular Economy in practice and offers all companies the chance to be part of it.

Using Rype Office furniture enables companies to:

  • Examine first-hand the mechanics of remanufacturing and servitisation (a living case study within your offices)
  • Convince sceptical senior executives of the feasibility and benefits of remanufacturing
  • Reduce office furniture costs
  • Improve sustainability

We welcome discussions with companies interested in participating. Please contact or phone Greg on UK 079 0016 3409.

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Video: Latest developments and untapped opportunities in resource efficiency

At the recent EPSRC Industrial Sustainability conference, Greg Lavery of Lavery/Pennell and Professor Steve Evans from the University of Cambridge spoke on recent developments and emerging themes in the field of non-labour resource efficiency.

This included an examination on the impacts of the Next Manufacturing Revolution, the New Industrial Model and the Foresight Report into the Future of Manufacturing.

The presentations, captured in the video below, identify that while some change has occurred in specific fields, substantial opportunities for cost savings and sustainability improvements remain.


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New Resource Efficiency Tool: Collaborative Treasure Hunts

Collaborative Treasure HuntYou too can benefit from a GE-style Treasure Hunt for energy savings.

GE has used Treasure Hunts to identify over a hundred millions dollars of operating cost savings through energy reduction. They bring experts from different plants and outside of the company together to examine the operations of one plant. During the Treasure Hunt they look for improvement opportunities, test ideas and write them up into an energy saving plan with costs and savings.

To be clear, a Treasure Hunt is not a sterile audit – it is a sleeves-rolled-up search for ‘pots of gold’ requiring creativity, innovation and questioning of the status quo. Participants love it – this is a chance to think outside the box and challenge historical norms.

It is not just about equipment (as most audits are); a Treasure Hunt also looks at staff behaviour and processes/systems, both of which can bring substantial savings at payback periods of less than one year.

With ESOS just around the corner, it is timely to consider how we can learn from one of the leaders in energy efficiency in how they make savings.

So we have done just that. Building on the GE format, Lavery/Pennell and 2degrees have developed a collaborative form of Treasure Hunt – bringing multiple similar (but not competing) companies together at one site to identify energy saving opportunities through sharing expertise and providing new ideas and fresh perspectives to the behaviours, processes, line design and equipment used at the site.

Here is a proven, fun way to learn while identifying cost and footprint saving opportunities – all in just one day. And with multiple companies collaborating, the facilitation costs are shared.

If you would like to participate in a Collaborative Treasure Hunt, contact Greg Lavery at to register your interest.

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Video: Resource efficiency at Toyota and Nestle

This video shows the latest from Toyota Motor Europe and Nestle UK and Ireland on their resource efficiency activities and how they have been so successful.

Steve Hope, General Manager, Environmental Affairs and Corporate Citizenship from Toyota Motor Europe talks about the systems, processes, culture, enablers, tools and habits that Toyota have used to reducing energy consumption, water and waste per vehicle by 74%, 75% and 69% respectively.

Andrew Griffiths, Factory Engineering Manager at Nestlé then (26 minutes in) explains how the business is implementing a blueprint for best-practice sustainable manufacturing – from liquid anaerobic digestion to butterfly meadows.

The video was filmed at the recent 2degrees Resource Efficiency Summit.

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23 Oct Food and Beverage Resource Efficiency Event

Earlier this year the Next Manufacturing Revolution examined the barriers to non-labour resource efficiency in the UK Food and Beverage sector. Participants included industry, government, subject matter experts, academia and NGOs. The study, which includes a vision for 2023, can be accessed here.

Further discussion on this topic will take place on 23 October 2014 at the Sustainable Food & Beverage Conference & Exhibition, which will be held at the Motor Cycle Museum, Birmingham.

This event is designed to bring together key stakeholders in the food and beverage manufacturing, retail and food service sectors.  The speaker line up is drawn from senior management throughout the food and beverage industry who have delivered quantifiable results.

This is likely to be especially useful for those who have direct and indirect responsibility for sustainability targets including carbon emissions, food waste, water conservation, packaging reduction, supply chain optimization and energy reduction.

You can read more about the event at

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