Since focusing on its environmental performance, interior furnishing fabric designer and manufacturer Inter-weave Ltd has dramatically reduced its waste and secured prestigious international contracts.
- Enviro-Mark Diamond certified
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Why did your organisation decide to focus on its environmental management?
Consideration for the environment has always been an integral part of our company ethos. We have worked with wool fibres since our establishment over 35 years ago, and as we all know wool is the most sustainable of all fibres and being a local resource it has been important to the New Zealand economy for many years. We started in 2006 with the EnviroSmart programme and have never looked back. We wanted to develop a practical and efficient environmental management system (EMS) to complement our sustainable main raw material.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your environmental programme?
As a manufacturer we are able to tightly control our processing. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure that the most environmentally responsible raw materials are purchased and our waste streams are scrupulously managed. Since the initiation of the scheme over 6 years ago we have been able to track and reduce waste by over 80%. For a small company to make such a difference is an inspiration to all our staff , who are proud of our Enviro-Mark Diamond status.
What has been the most challenging aspect of this?
While the waste reduction has brought about cost savings, extra labour is required to separate goods for recycling. Labour and compliance costs have increased for New Zealand businesses at a time when the financial crisis and competition from cheaper Asian imported products has squeezed margins.
What are some of your EMS achievements?
We have reduced our plastic waste by 90%, our textile waste by 90%, our cardboard waste by 50% and our water waste by 20%! Any scraps of fabric are donated to schools and up-cycled into a huge array of fantastic creations!
What advice would you give to other companies thinking of implementing an EMS?
The Enviro-Mark programme is an excellent option that offers plenty of support. Ensure that your staff make the most of these opportunities. Also dedicate a committed staff member to document and monitor all manufacturing processes as this information will be crucial to your future.
How has being a member of the Enviro-Mark programme assisted you?
We have received excellent training and advice from the Enviro-Mark team, who have enabled us to approach what can seem a daunting task in a sequential and methodical manner.
What value does Enviro-Mark certification have for your organisation?
Having a certified EMS under our belt has enabled Inter-weave to secure many 5 star green building contracts throughout the world. Our customers are assured that we consider the environment at every turn in our manufacturing processes and have the confidence to promote beautiful, sustainable, hard wearing fabrics that have been processed with a great respect for our planet.
The independent verification is a necessity to show your clients that you ‘walk the walk’. Green-washing has become such a prevalent marketing tool that it is crucial that manufacturers can prove their environmental claims.
Where are you heading now with your environmental management efforts?
Our current objectives are to continue to produce sustainable fabrics using as little energy and creating as little waste as possible. Continuous improvement on every level!
For further information
P: 09 573 1469
Enviro-Mark Diamond Certification
Enviro-Mark Diamond certified organisations have all the components of an ISO 14001 system in place. They have internal systems to ensure that their plans and policies are followed and to identify any opportunities for change and improvement. They have top management involvement in managing the EMS and its continuing stability.
To achieve Enviro-Mark Diamond certification, an organisation:
- Controls all important documentation to ensure only the most up to date versions are being used;
- Has an internal EMS audit programme in operation, ensuring expected outcomes are occurring as planned;
- Periodically has top management review the performance of the EMS;
- Formalises the roles and responsibilities for people working for and on behalf of the organisation;
- Communicates appropriately both internally and externally;
- Ensures appropriate training is given to people working with the EMS;
- Documents all procedures relating to managing the system (both system and operational procedures);
- Has a good system for managing problems (non-conformities and opportunities for improvement);
- Sets objectives and targets for driving improvement and has programmes in place to meet those targets;
- Develops, implements and tests environmental emergency plans;
- Identifies and evaluates their significant environmental issues arising from activities, products and services;
- Actively monitors their ongoing compliance with New Zealand legislation and ensures they are aware of any changes to obligations;
- Produces an environmental policy statement;
- Understands the scope of their EMS (i.e., are there any parts of the organisation that need to be excluded from the EMS and why);
- Exhibits no non-compliances with New Zealand’s applicable health and safety and environmental legislation.