A warm response to the global energy crisis21 September 2023
As a significant percentage of the leather industry leads the way in addressing the environmental impacts associated with leather production, from water treatment to chemical use, Hardy UK is challenging employees to improve the environmental sustainability of its operations.
However critical the global energy crisis is to the future of the planet, it can also be a catalyst for change for many manufacturing businesses. The owners of Hardy UK are increasingly aware of the demands for sustainable productivity from its large, global customer base.
The next major step for Hardy UK towards becoming a more sustainable manufacturing company will come in the form of solar energy. In early 2021, Hardy UK moved into a brand new factory, allowing a sizable increase to its leather fleshing and shaving blade production capacity and opening the opportunity for expansion. Now fully settled in its new home, this year the company will install additional solar panels on the building.
Solar energy has one of the lowest environmental footprints compared to other energy sources as it doesn’t produce any greenhouse gases or pollute water sources. Considering the current increasing costs of utilities, solar energy also brings some financial relief over a surprisingly short period. And when Hardy UK isn’t directly using the power generated, the overflow is fed back into the national grid, which helps to lessen the need for fossil fuel-based power.
The owners’ total solar investment, which includes three sites – two in the UK and one in Richmond, Virginia – across the group will save upwards of 45 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to approximately 100,000 driving miles.
While not denying that the energy crisis and the reliable nature of solar power played a part in the decision, “we have been inspired by the efforts of industry peers and this investment made perfect sense as the inevitable continuation, from general day to day recycling efforts of dry office materials and steel waste,” says Rob Andrews, the commercial director of Hardy UK.
“Our investigations of the technology also lead us to increase the initial investment to ensure that the componentry implemented is of the highest, socially responsible sourced standards available.” The manufacture of high-quality shaving and fleshing blades depends heavily on the continuity of energy supply. This is not always possible in some industrial economies. “We are regularly made aware of cases when the quality of an alternative product significantly fluctuates in countries with inconsistent energy supplies. We want our customers to be 100% confident in our product quality and to have access to sustainably manufactured blades,” says Andrews.
While sometimes it can be difficult to be a fully carbon-neutral manufacturer, the ownership of the group is committed to having an overall strategy to reducing effects on the climate. Hardy’s group owner is also adding solar to the corporate HQ building in the US to generate 100% of the annual need for this facility. It will be operational in November 2022.
The dedicated teams across Hardy UK sites are looking at everything that the company can do, from recycling to energy efficiency. This is just the beginning of putting the long-term plan in place.