Meet the Team: An Interview with Joe Chaney
With over 25 years in the construction and manufacturing sectors – Environmental Manager Joe Chaney knows the industry inside out and has witnessed some major changes in health and safety standards. We sat down with Joe recently, and asked for his thoughts on how sustainability has influenced the industry in recent times.

Tell us about your roles past and present at Merson Group?

Previous to joining Merson Group I worked as a Health and Safety Manager for CGL Systems Ltd before adding Procurement responsibilities to my role.

I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years now and so I have lived through some quite major changes in health and safety standards, and with a worldwide focus on improving environmental performance – the change has actually been quite staggering.

Can you talk us through some of the biggest changes to the industry in recent years?

One of the most positive outcomes is that the exposure of the subject has meant that environmental agencies, principle contractors right down to the sub contractor are now much more educated on the subject matter and therefore much more supportive of the drive to improve the environmental performance standards.

Government driven legislation such as Zero Waste Scotland has impacted greatly on the business by driving a requirement to segregate waste at source. Merson have responded positively to the challenge and a focus on diversion from landfill has been at the core of the drive for sustainability.

Sustainability strategy is based on issues such as water, electricity and energy reduction. How do you put these ideas into practice?

In order to deliver and sustain a positive environmental performance employee engagement is always key. Employee engagement begins on day one through our Merson induction training with environmental performance and responsibilities communicated to all.

I have introduced recycling programs and made efforts to reduce the carbon emissions as a way to mitigate the adverse effects of business processes. Work is always ongoing to improve the performance of our working environment a few examples are installation of an improved heating system in the factory and more efficient press brakes which all uses less power.

Our sustainability strategy is founded on some guiding principles – upholding high professional standards, being transparent, trusted and fair, fostering a culture of partnership and collaboration, valuing the longer-term consequences of our decisions, and leading by example to create a more sustainable future.

How long has Merson Group had an environmental management system in place?

It was the 13th August 2008 when the environmental management standard was first introduced, however we already had a long-standing dedication to sustainability before this date.

A good example is our work with Volvo dating back to the early nineties where our materials used were always aluminium and as such were always recycled. In addition to this, our move away from fluorescents to LED’s has improved efficiencies and reduced unnecessary consumption.

What are the biggest environmental achievements that you are proud to have successfully introduced across the company?

Work is always ongoing, however there are a few things that spring to mind and these are:

  • LED fit out through the Merson Head Office in Scotland.

  • The install of insulation into offices leading to the reduction in energy consumption through increasing thermal performance and reducing heat loss through building fabric.

  • The introduction of dedicated Eco boilers into employee rest areas, which allowed for the removal of kettles.

  • Draught excluders fitted throughout locations.

  • Achieved 85% waste diversion from landfill.

  • Installation of a timber roll crusher in Basildon that resulted in reduced skip uplift requirements from 4 to 1.

What are some of the new environmental initiatives Merson are working on for 2016?

This year we have introduced Baler equipment to improve our recycling performance. This is an exciting initiative as it is one of the most significant ways that we can improve the sustainability the company’s waste.

The baler is used to compact recyclables such as aluminum, cardboard, paper, and plastic into blocks. These blocks can then easily be stacked and transported.

Looking ahead over the next 5 years, what do you think will be the big advancements that will allow companies to further reduce their carbon footprint?

Paperless is an ongoing initiative that is still being tackled by many. It is thought that too many companies are still being managed on paper.

A future plan will be to work towards creating a working environment much less dependent on paper. This will begin with identifying common paper intensive procedures and work to convert these into automated processes. This initiative will reduce costs, storage requirements, streamline tasks, all whilst contributing to the environment!