Sustainability can be economical

HTA-run nursery stock conference Contact 09 highlighted best business practice and technical developments.

Horticultural businesses could save as much as £10,000 by putting environmental management systems in place, it was claimed during a workshop on green initiatives.

The session, led by HTA business projects manager Alec Turnbull, covered the HTA's Environmental Management Scheme (EMS) and three HTA-backed projects funded by the South East England Development Agency, covering water management, waste and carbon footprints.

Seventeen commercial horticulture businesses took part in the EMS to achieve standards BS8555 and ISO 14001 during 2006-08. Figures for eight of those businesses show that the annual average cost saving stands at £10,000.

New business gained from being marketed as a green business is estimated at £22,875 per year.

Phil Morton, a principal consultant at WYG, which is working on the EMS initiative, said: "It is compelling evidence that it is a cost-effective process to go through. Other benefits include being compliant with legalisation and reduced risk for your staff."

The average cost of the process is £2,100, and companies receive a package including a CD, workbook and monitoring tools.

Morton said companies would begin to see payback within two to four months.

Alistair Hazell of Darby Nursery Stock said: "Within the two years since we started using EMS we have seen the benefits. We used to have a large skip of waste, but now we only send a small one every two weeks."

Bransford Webbs managing director Geoff Caesar is glad the company undertook the scheme but pointed out: "We were surprised by the amount of work - a member of staff worked on the paperwork for two and a half days a week for three months."


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