Connecting SMEs for a green economy

Adopting sustainable supply chain management and a greener business model

Chris Hopkins's picture

Easibind International, originally a stationary manufacturing company, has successfully expanded operations via a new green business strategy and developing its own, and industry wide, environmental standards.

Originally a stationery manufacturing company, Easibind is now involved in a wide range of design, print, production ventures and employs 75 personnel across a variety of roles.

Easibind are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and have consistently managed to achieve carbon reductions on a year on year basis. The key area in which they have improved the sustainability of their business model is through developing unique supply chain standards and voluntary codes. Their in-house accounts team have helped Easibind to integrate these into the existing information managment system and they have undoubtedly seen financial, environmental and quality assurance benefits to the business. Throughout the changes their retained capital and reserves increased by 50% while their carbon footprint fell by 40%, all in what is currently a very difficult market for the print and design industry.

Easibind's environmental strength has been built on developing their own Easibind Quality and Environmental Management Standard (QUEMS) based on the principles of sound financial accounting. They lobbied external accreditation bodies like the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) and were involved in getting ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 integrated into one audit standard by UKAS in 2008. Easibind also achieved The Carbon Trust Standard in 2008, recertified in 2011, and is has pushed for UKAS to bring the Carbon Trust Standard in to line with other standards to strengthen sustainability.

Being a small company at the bottom of the supply chain and in a very competitive industry made it very difficult to be listened to when establishing standards. They had to emphasise the tangible benefits for stakeholders and had to produce clear evidence of financial savings, legal compliance, and thre benefits of environmental/social reporting to get people interested. Ultimately it has been well worth the effort.

Further details

How was the green solution financed?: 
Would you characterize the green solution as: 
Medium capital intensive investment (i.e. €10,000-€30,000)
Cost savings description: 
Throughout the changes, retained capital and reserves increased by 50%
Emission reductions description: 
Carbon footprint fell by 40%
Operating and maintenance costs: 
Yes, low O&M costs
Technical and capacity requirements?: 

Required an engaged management team willing to improve and adapt business standards to be more sustainable.

Regulatory framework prerequisites and constraints?: 

Had to work with UKAS for improvment, validation and verification to ISO 14001, ISO9001, and EC EMAS [European Community Eco Management Audit Scheme] Standards.