Author Archives: Sean

Business needs to change to avoid climate breakdown

In his latest blog Sean looks at how business should be reducing its dependence on carbon

All but the very sceptical now accept that our climate is changing and serious action is needed to slow down the damage caused to our environment.

The recent report by the UN international Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that we have about 12 years to ensure that we don’t exceed the 1.5 degree increase in global warming and has outlined some of the serious consequences of missing the target – even by only half a IPCCdegree Celsius.

At the time of its publication, there was much media coverage, which is great in raising awareness of this important subject, but there doesn’t seem to have been any significant business response.

As individuals, we all have a role to play in reducing energy use and thus global warming, but small changes by big businesses by definition have the potential to make a disproportionately large impact.

In the last few weeks, two examples of business practices which seem to take no recognition of the importance of climate change have stood out to me. In no way am I criticising the businesses behind these practices, it’s a competitive world out there, but they do highlight how big a sea change is needed in business thinking if we are ever going to reduce our dependence on carbon and perhaps save the environment.

First example. Recently, my friend’s car had to go to the garage due to a damaged AdBlue tank – yes, it’s diesel, that’s a whole different blog – but not only did the new tank have to come from mainland Europe the car had to be shipped from Wrexham to the North East of England to a specialist repairer. All of which was anything but zero carbon.

Today, businesses are becoming so complex and specialised that they build in even more carbon to their business operations.

Second example. Recently, we had to have a small wall rebuilt after an insurance claim. True, many of the bricks could be salvaged and were therefore reused, but the insurance company has a contract for such works with a building contractor. The work took two days and the builder drove 50 miles each way to undertake the work. Why wouldn’t the insurance company contract the work to a local builder, which would reduce traffic as well as reducing carbon emissions?

As I mentioned earlier, these examples are not unique to the businesses concerned and on their own don’t amount to much, but when you consider the imperative businesses have to grow and how many businesses will be doing something similar every day across the globe, the only conclusion I can come to is that businesses need a real shake up in how they operate.
To date, there’s little evidence that many are about to do so.

I hope I am wrong.

Refil and Coolrec develop the coolest 3d printing filament

Coolrec, a subsidiary of Renewi and Refil have launched HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene plastic), a high quality and unique 3d printing filament made from plastic recovered from discarded refrigerators, available now in the UK

Ron Cramer from Coolrec left and Casper van der Meer from Refil launch the new 3d printer filament

Ron Cramer from Coolrec left and Casper van der Meer from Refil launch the new 3d printer filament

From discarded fridges to high quality 3d printing filament, HIPS has a neutral off white colour which is easy to paint or glue, making it a perfect material for the 3d printing of scale models.

The new filament can also be used as a support material, and if needed, can be removed when the print is finished by a naturasolvent, limonene. The filament comes in the two standard diameters of 2.85mm and 1.75mm and has successfully been tested on many 3d printers.

Sustainable 3d printing filament

After their first recycled PET, ABS and PLA filaments, Dutch company Refil is now adding Hips to their product range. The products now offer a sustainable alternative for the growing market of 3d printing and this new material has a specific focus on architects, schools and product designers. The material prints flawless and comes with a sustainable story, creating 3d products from old fridges.

The collaboration between Refil and Coolrec is a good example of two companies on the forefront of plastic recycling working together in their own field of expertise.

“Whereas Coolrec is all about the recycling of electrical and electronic equipment, Refil transforms the acquired plastics into 3d printing filament and makes it available around the world”, says Casper van der Meer, CEO at Refil.

“Making recycled filament may seem easy, but getting a steady supply chain and maintaining a high quality over different batches is a real challenge. This is why it took us several years of development to be able to guarantee the quality of HIPS. Together with Coolrec we’ve managed to realise this”

Coolrec is responsible for recycling of WEEE (Waste or Electrical and Electronic Equipment) which recycles electrical appliances and electronic products into high quality secondary materials such as plastics, metals and other raw materials.

Arjen Wittekoek, Director of Coolrec said: “Discarded appliances are made from and still contain many valuable materials. Using innovative techniques, Coolrec is able to recover the plastics from the discarded fridges, offering the sustainable solution reusing these again in the manufacturing process of new products, such as the 3d filament.

“For us developing HIPS and the collaboration with Refil is another way to protect the world against pollution, preserve finite resources and enable our partners to achieve their sustainability targets. For this reason we are very proud to be involved in this circular collaboration.”

The recipe of the recycled plastic has been optimized for 3d printing, reducing shrinkage and warping during printing. The filament will be delivered on a unique fully recyclable cardboard spool leaving no waste behind. The spools are made in collaboration with a social workplace in Rotterdam, integrating social sustainability as well.

Refil and Coolrec are also working on a black filament of the same kind of plastic but in this case made from old televisions. It’s expected to be available in the beginning of 2019.

The full range of 3D printing filaments containing recycled material is available at here https://www.re-filament.com/shop.html.

 

Media Statement on behalf of Cae Post

Cae Post Logo

  4 January 2018

Cae Post announces end of trade recycling and waste collections

Cae Post, the environmental charity and social enterprise based in Welshpool, has announced it is to stop its waste and recycling collections with effect from 31st January 2018, with the loss of 10 staff.

Making the announcement, John Harrington, chair of the charity’s trustees, said: “It has been an extremely difficult year for us. Although we have been able to grow our services to trade customers in Powys and Shropshire, we have seen the value and demand for the recyclable materials we sort and bale fall. This has led us to a very difficult decision.

“As a board of trustees, it was very hard for us to decide to close our recycling centre in Trewern, but financially we had no choice. We hope to be able to continue to meet our charitable objectives of offering training and employment to those disadvantaged in the jobs market in some other way in future.”

Cae Post has a long history of pioneering charitable action in the fields of learning disability and environmental action.

Although the current trading activities of the charity will cease, the charity will continue to exist while the trustees investigate new ways to deliver their charitable objectives.

Added John: “We would really like to thank all of our staff, customers and suppliers over the years for their support and the significant contribution they have made to our social enterprise.”

– e n d s –

Notes to Editor:

Cae Post believes that employment and access to work are central to how people see themselves and that people with a range of disabilities, or who are disadvantaged in the labour market, should be given the same opportunity of contributing to their community through work.

By promoting the many individual achievements our beneficiaries make, Cae Post can help to create a more inclusive image for all those who are disadvantaged.

 

Mince pie - Ethos public relations

Season’s greetings 2017

As another year comes to its end, it has become our tradition to have a(nother) glass of sherry and a mince pie and to reflect on the previous year.

It’s now over three years since Ethos public relations made the move from an office based PR agency in Manchester to a more flexible Shropshire operation. During this time, we feel we have become part of the local community and have had the benefit of meeting and working with some fantastic local people.

We might now be based near to Oswestry, but we still have clients across the UK and as the nature of public relations changes from its broadcast and print focus to an increasingly digital and social media focus, we have enjoyed supporting clients with new website projects, conference preparations and product development, as well as traditional media and public relations.

Over the year, we have seen a number of fundraising events take place locally and a few have been less well publicised than we think they ought to have been. As we are passionate about local charities and fundraising initiatives we launched a PR service especially for that sector. More details are here. We really would love to work with you to help you raise your fundraising and business objectives.

Holly

Talking of fundraising, along with a number of other volunteers, we have started to plan a new music festival in Welshpool to raise funds to support the reopening of the Montgomery Canal between Shropshire and Powys. There are a number of sponsorship opportunities available to businesses and brands that would like to be associated with this. Why not take a look at www.musicforthemonty.co.uk and get in touch?

We will be closed over the Christmas break from lunchtime on Friday 22nd December until Tuesday 2nd January 2018, but, as we are firmly in the 21st century, we will be checking our emails, social media accounts and text messages, so do stay in touch.

We would like to wish all our clients, suppliers, friends and future clients Season’s Greetings and a very successful 2018.

Propagator

Cae Post develops online shop

Cae Post, an innovative social enterprise based in Powys, has recently taken delivery of a stock of recycled plastic Eco Potagators to sell in support of their charity.

PropagatorMade out of recycled yoghurt pots, these propagatorsare designed to be turned upside down once seedlings have outgrown the propagator and this then makes an attractive blue plant pot.

Cae Post believes in promoting the use of recycled materials as a way to stimulate demand for them and to ensure that recycled materials retain their value. For over 30 years, Cae Post has provided employment and access to work for disadvantaged people in the Powys and North Shropshire area combined with environmental action. They believe work is central to how people see themselves and that people with a range of disabilities, or who are disadvantaged in the labour market, should be given the same opportunity of contributing to their community through work.

As a charity and social business involved in the collection and recycling of materials – including plastics – Cae Post believes it is important that a market is created for these waste materials. This then makes it profitable to collect the materials. Without an outlet for collected recyclates, their value is much lower.

Cae Post was set up to provide meaningful work experience and jobs to people left behind in the labour market. By selling items on its website, Cae Post aims to give people meaningful work in processing the orders, packaging and sending them out. It’s not solely about making a profit but about giving dignified work to people. This is not Cae Post’s main source of revenue or the biggest activity it undertakes, but one which is crucial to their mission of combining work opportunities and environmental actrion.

As a social enterprise, Cae Post says it is always looking for new opportunities to grow the business in a way that marries its purpose of combining environmental action with tackling exclusion and inequality in the labour market.

Click here to find out more about Eco Potagators and to purchase online.

Centre for Alternative Technology Revisited

In his latest blog Sean looks back at visits to the Centre for Alternative Technology

It must be about 16 years since I was last at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)  near Machynlleth in Mid Wales.

For those that don’t know of it, it’s a pioneering education charity based in a former slate quarry, which has used the site to trial a number of alternative technologies over the years, and today it is using many of them still to power the site.

When I visited the Centre for Alternative Technology in the early days of Ethos public relations it was to discuss an ethical online web portal, which one of our clients was involved in. Times have certainly changed as far as the internet is concerned and, no doubt, that’s true in the field of alternative energy technologies too.

View from water balanced cliff railway at Centre for Alternative TechnologyI remember arriving at the site of CAT the first time, after a beautiful train journey from Manchester, and being impressed by the water-balanced cliff railway which takes you from road level up to the visitor centre.

As with many of the technologies showcased at CAT, the cliff railway works using the simplest of technologies, namely gravity. The two carriages are linked by a steel rope and when one goes down due to the combined weight of its passengers and water tank, the other carriage travels up the cliff face, with some stunning views.

On my recent visit, another ancient technology was being displayed, though with a modern twist. Burning wood for cooking and heating can hardly be described as an alternative technology, given that millions of people around the world rely on it day in and day out, but at CAT there is an innovative display of boilers that use wood pellets to produce both electricity and heat. Obviously, managed properly wood is a sustainable fuel and so provides an alternative to fossil fuels. If we want to work towards a zero carbon economy, then this might be part of the solution.

For many years, I have thought that solar panels for domestic and industrial premises should be fitted as a matter of course instead of roofing tiles, rather than on top of an existing roof. At CAT, that’s what they have on the café.

Solar panel roof at Centre for Alternative Technology

Over the past 16 years many things have changed dramatically in the field of low carbon energy generation, whether that is the growth of offshore wind energy generation or the increasing number of homes with photovoltaic cells on their roofs, but what we still have not seen is a widespread belief in using alternative technologies from the start of a project rather than as an add on.

But there still seems to be a lot of antipathy to wind and solar, in spite of their obvious benefits. Ethos public relations has worked with community biodiesel and community wind energy operators in the past and have, in a very small way, helped get the message out about the benefits of reducing carbon dependency. There is still much to be done.

So keep up the good work CAT, keep promoting the alternatives and helping to put sustainability into practice…

Commemorating 70 years since Victory in Japan

Saturday 15th August 2015 marks the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Japan (VJ Day)

COFEPOW - Children of far East Prisoners of War logoThis important anniversary of VJ Day is being marked by national charity COFEPOW, as part of its aim to ensure that World War Two Far East Prisoners of War are never forgotten.

 

Key events to commemorate Victory in Japan Day

Saturday 15th August 2015

At 2pm, there will be a Service of Remembrance at Lichfield Cathedral to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of VJ Day. There will be an Address by Terry Waite CBE, and the service will be followed by performances from the West Midlands Fellowship Band and the West Midlands Police Choir.

Sunday 16th August 2015

At 12.15pm, there will be a service at the COFEPOW Memorial Building at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire. The service will be conducted by David Childs CBE RN (Rtd) and will be followed by the blessing and re-dedication of the building and the opening of the new FEPOW Remembrance Garden. There will also be a Royal Air Force fly past by a world famous DC-3 Dakota Transport Plane.

Key facts about Victory in Japan

• At 6.10 on the evening of 15th February 1942, Lieutenant General Percival surrenders to the Japanese in Singapore.

• Almost 200,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers became prisoners of war in the Far East.

• Thousands were held in Singapore’s Changi Prison, where many died.

• Thousands more left Singapore on prison ships – “hell ships” – to be used as forced labour in other parts of Asia.

• Nearly 10,000 of these men died building the Burma-Thailand railway.
• Thousands of others died as a result of starvation, barbaric treatment and tropical diseases.

• Civilians fared no better. Tens of thousands were killed by the Japanese.

• The Japanese surrendered on 15th August 1945.

• By then, 50,000 prisoners of war had been killed.

Father and Son cycle across England to commemorate Victory in Japan Day

A father and son cycling duo from Lostock Hall, Preston are cycling across England to raise awareness of the plight of World War Two prisoners of war.

Paul and James Housden cycling for COFEPOW

Paul and James Housden are cycling for COFEPOW

Paul Housden and son James are cycling across Lancashire and Yorkshire from Morecambe to Bridlington to raise funds for national charity, COFEPOW, which is dedicated to keeping alive the memory of prisoners of war held in the Far East in World War Two.

More than 200,000 allied civilians and service personnel were taken prisoner by the Japanese in February 1942. By Victory in Japan Day some 50,000 of these people had died.

Says Paul: “My father was a POW in the Far East and it is so hard to conceive what he and thousands of others went through. COFEPOW exists to ensure this important part of history is kept alive.”

Son James is keen to help raise funds for COFEPOW as away of recognising his grandfather’s contribution: “Having listened to dad talk about some of the things granddad and his fellow captives went through, it’s very important that the coming generations have knowledge of what happened to the forgotten army.”

The ride, which will take two full days of cycling across the Lancashire and Yorkshire dales and moors, and says Paul: “We will face a total climb of 4,222 ft and some 141 miles, but compared to what my Father went through, it is a small effort to pay tribute to him and his fellow POWs.”

If you would like to sponsor Paul and James, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/Paul-Housden and to find out more about Far East Prisoners of War visit www.cofepow.org.uk.

Business with vision for manufacturing in England

Quantock Clothing, a Warwickshire-based business setup in 2014, is seeking to reinvigorate the smart casual menswear market with its vision of sourcing entirely from English manufacturers and promoting the ‘Made in England’ brand.

Grev Lushington - Quantock Clothing

Grev Lushington founder of Quantock Clothing

Speaking as Quantock Clothing launches additional lines to its range, founder Grev Lushington from Rugby, said: “At Quantock Clothing we manufacture all of our products in England and are committed to developing high quality, stylish and desirable ranges that are also accessibly priced. Made in England does not have to mean unaffordable”.

According to Grev, people have a growing desire to understand more about the provenance of their clothing; who makes it, how it is made and under what conditions. “When you look at this, it makes total sense to push a ‘Made in England’ agenda – we do things well in this country and we value our people”, he says.

Add to this an understanding of what is involved in bringing clothing from far afield regions such as the Far East to retail stores in the Western World, and you start to consider the sustainability of the practice currently adopted by many brands. The scale of operations, distances involved and sheer complexity of logistics before anything is even sold, is not always appreciated.

Adds Grev: “We work with high quality manufacturers throughout England and have greatly appreciated their support and dedication to help us bring our vision to life. In addition, we have a strong commitment to provide exemplary levels of service to our customers and believe the future promises to be very exciting, indeed.”

Currently, the Quantock Clothing range includes jeans, button down shirts, knitwear, polo shirts, belts and cufflinks all designed and made in England.

www.quantockclothing.com

The top three hotels in the world

In his latest blog, Sean looks at customer service excellence in the hospitality sector.

Recently,  a discussion in the office turned to the number of hotels we have visited since Ethos public relations was founded in 1998.

Over these 17 years we must have stayed at hundreds of hotels, both for business and pleasure.

We have stayed in budget hotels to get our heads down after a long business meeting; big conference venues in Brussels, Prague, Berlin and Birmingham, to name but a few; small bed and breakfasts with friendly owners, and corporate chains with less than friendly temporary (and overworked) staff.

It didn’t take long before we started comparing the various stays and, rather than focusing on the negatives of any particular stay, we thought about the top three hotels we had stayed at.

Now, the results, which we tweeted recently, are not very scientific. There was not a tick box questionnaire, review website or analysis of value for money, but rather we thought about the best overall experience in a hotel.

Before we repeat the results, it’s true to say that we cannot recall staying in any really awful hotels. It’s true we have experienced bed bugs, bins being emptied at 6am, reservations cock-ups, loud guests and un-adjustable heating/air conditioning but, in general, hotels and their staff are very capable.

Our shortlist of our top three hotels in the world – yes we know that’s terrible PR hype – is: the Gran Melia Victoria in Palma, Mallorca, the Holiday Inn, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire and The Hadley Park Hotel in Wellington, Shropshire.

Hadley Park Hotel

Hadley Park Hotel

In many ways these hotels couldn’t be more different. One looks over the Mediterranean, another the Manchester Ship Canal and the third is surrounded by a business park.

 

 

Holiday Inn Ellesmere Port

Holiday Inn Ellesmere Port

But the similarity is in their focus on customer service, or at least as we received it. Public relations, we always tell our clients, is about the way customers and guests perceive you and the experience they receive when interacting with your business.

Gran Melia Victoria

Gran Melia Victoria

In these three hotels we have received customer service that made us feel valued, as though the employees of the hotels really enjoyed our visit. Now of course we know the hospitality industry spends a fortune on guest customer service training and the service we received might be down to that. But somehow, I think it is down to something much more basic. I think these hotels employed nice people. And that is worth so much more than corporate brand, stunning location, posh grub or free wi-fi.