Little steps. Lasting change.
Everyone talks about being green these days. But what is the truth behind the hype and eco-buzzwords?
At Big K we know that we are working within a challenging industry. And we also know that we have a responsibility to improve our relationship with the planet. We don’t hide from the situation. Rather we embrace the reality, tackling each obstacle one step at a time.
For us sustainability starts with the environment. However it is about so much more. We are constantly looking at ways to improve what we do and how we do it. Nurturing supplier relationships, helping individuals and communities, refining our products – these are all part of our wider sustainable mission.
Our business has been built on a foundation of trust, so we believe in being as open and honest as possible with all our customers.
Take a look at what we are doing to help make things better for all of us.
We exercise due diligence in all our supplier relationships before making any orders.
Essentially this means that we check a company’s legality and sustainable sourcing certifications, as well as visiting their sites to ensure our quality standards are met
We work closely with suppliers to develop long-term relationships.
It’s simple, the better the relationship, the better the trust and ultimately product quality. This is why we often provide financial support to our suppliers, helping them to grow and develop in their region, which in turn helps the local community and economy.
We are always working with our packaging suppliers to make our bags more eco-friendly.
This involves producing more sustainable recyclable plastic, integrating paper packaging wherever possible and reducing pack size. All these little actions help to lessen our carbon footprint.
Our next step.
We are actively looking at ways to work with a UK charcoal producer. Our aim? To sell a product that is made from 100% British fuel. We used to in the past, and, after listening to our customers’ feedback, we are developing ways to re-instate the product in the future
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – DEFRA
DEFRA is a government influencer in the restaurant fuel market. They are responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Currently, two of our restaurant grade products (ACH15 and RCB10) are registered with DEFRA. This means that they are listed for use in smoke-controlled areas. Moving forward, we are striving to register more products for indoor restaurant grills.
We are proud to be an active member of the Woodsure scheme. Woodsure is the UK’s only woodfuel certification scheme, a not-for-profit organisation striving to raise the quality of the woodfuel industry. The initiative encourages companies to supply the end user low moisture wood only, which helps reduce emissions during burning. At the moment we have two registered products and we are working towards registering more over the coming years.
The Forest Stewardship Council® – FSC®
The FSC promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. They particularly focus on setting the standards on forest products, along with certifying and labelling products as ‘eco-friendly’. We have been FSC certified since 1981 and, in fact, we were one of the first charcoal suppliers to register with their Chain of Custody scheme.
The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification – PEFC
Keeping ahead of the curve is important to us. So we are one of the few PEFC registered charcoal companies. This non-profit, non-governmental organisation promotes sustainable forest management through independent third party certification. We hope this partnership will lead to a widening of certified materials that we can integrate into our products.
The production process is integral to what we do. So we have to monitor, tweak and refine many details to make it more sustainable. Our equipment is key, so we run a state-of-the-art modern packaging plant with high quality machinery, as well as a high-end specification extraction system, keeping staff, and the air, healthier and happier.
Equipment detail – Biomass Boiler
At our Norfolk site, we run a biomass boiler. This is used to dry our kiln dry logs and it is fed with waste from our wood processing facility. This clever little boiler reduces our gas requirements, which lessens the waste we have to send, and trips we have to make, to landfill.
Transport and Distribution
We need to get our products to our customers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make little improvements along the way. In London, our fleet of vehicles are changed every five years to keep up with current emissions targets. We have also recently taken part in a Q&A with Volvo on the future of electric lorries. We would love to add some of these eco-friendly vehicles into our fleet one day.
Improving our delivery system is just as important as improving our fleet. So we are continuously reviewing and refining our routes to maximise fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. We start by ensuring that our lorries are full and using back haulage wherever possible.
Our next step.
The long-term goal is to reduce our use of plastic packaging and move to paper as much as possible. This is an extensive task, involving investment in new machinery as well as an evolution in the packaging industry. We will focus a considerable part of our efforts on achieving our goal. This involves working closely with packaging suppliers to find out the latest improvements in this constantly evolving industry.
For us this is a vital part of our sustainability agenda. To be honest, we see this as the future of the charcoal industry. We have a growing list of products that are made from renewable sources and we spend a lot of time and care to find and develop this offering. Here’s what we provide so far – Kindling wood made from waste off cuts from the manufacturing industry, Heatlogs composed of waste sawdust, Charcoal Apple wood briquettes from Coppiced end of life apple tree plantations and Cocoshell briquettes from waste coconut shells.
Recycled Products / Briquettes.
It is clear that, over time, there has to be a move away from lumpwood charcoal towards recycled products such as sawdust briquettes. To help meet this need further down the road, we have embarked on a joint venture with an overseas company manufacturing sawdust briquettes from waste. Naturally, we are also working behind the scenes with our suppliers to add more recycled products into the Big K product family.
The United Kingdom is our spiritual and literal home. So we want to support the UK forestry industry in any way we can. We do this by buying UK timber for use in all our log products. Yes we could buy these abroad and save on cost, but we are big on helping the place that has helped us for so many years. After all, UK forests are the foundation, as well as the long-term future, of the domestic industry, so they must be managed and protected.
We believe in the idea of action creating change. If you take a stone and throw it into a pond, it creates a ripple and another ripple and another. When it comes to helping individuals and the wider community, the same philosophy applies. By helping others we empower people to help themselves, improving lives, communities and the environment.
We have no problem with rolling up our sleeves and helping out. We support various local charity events throughout the year, as well as schools needing charcoal or donations for their events. We also encourage and promote car sharing for staff and the local Norfolk community. Once every two years we also participate in a big charity event chosen by employees such as Bear Grylls 10k race.
Our next step.
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to helping the environment. Our dream is to create a series of educational initiatives designed to educate consumers on charcoal products. With this information they can make more informed choices, helping to erode the popularity of the illegal timber trade for example.