Last week, the Sustainability Matters webinar series continued, with a fascinating dive into the engineering sector. We were joined by Paul Dyer, Technical Manager at Marlow Ropes and Chris Perry, Managing Director at Timberwolf. The session was hosted by Green Growth Programme Manager, Victoria Page.
Based in East Sussex, Marlow Ropes has been manufacturing ropes since 1807 for the leisure and marine industry, theatres, industrial and even for use in space. Timberwolf, based in Suffolk, is now part of a larger PLC, and provides wood chippers for the tree management sector, mostly in the built environment.
Where did your passion for sustainability come from?
The webinar began with an overview of both firms’ first steps into sustainability. For Timberwolf MD Chris Perry, it was a personal passion and belief that a business must take responsibility for its actions. For Marlow Ropes, the firm’s MD was also passionate about sustainability and recognised the benefit of making changes to save money, such as waste and energy reduction. Both speakers also agreed that it’s far better to get ahead of the curve on sustainability progress than be left behind and be forced to catch up at a later stage – usually when legislation is passed.
How have you upgraded your products to be more sustainable?
Both organisations have made significant progress in upgrading their products to be more sustainable. Timberwolf has invested in exploring the potential for battery and mild hybrid technologies, to limit the woodchipper’s environmental footprint throughout its lifetime of use. The Timberwolf team has gained new expertise. Teams have been on an educational journey to learn about new power trains and how to market them to potential customers. This has been a valuable journey, which has taken time to embed.
For Marlow Ropes, a new bio-based raw material has been used in some products, although this has meant that the price of the product has increased and there has not been as much take-up of more sustainably produced ropes as was expected.
Both organisations agreed that providing customers with the option of a more sustainable product provides a competitive advantage though.
What do you have planned for the future?
Timberwolf is keen to do more when it comes to being more sustainable. For example, the main raw material of a woodchipper is steel, but the industry is slow when it comes to sustainability progress. At the very least, Timberwolf values being more transparent, especially in relation to supply chains, underpinned by the belief that people should be able to make informed decisions based on more metrics – not just price or availability, but sustainability metrics too. This is something the business is exploring.
Marlow Ropes is keen to tell a stronger story about its sustainability progress, such as telling its customers about ISO14001 certification and leveraging marketing to influence customer behaviour and purchase. They are also exploring end of life for products, to close the loop on recycling old ropes.
What advice would you give to those starting out?
Marlow Ropes believes that the small steps really count, and it’s worth starting with the low-hanging fruit. Timberwolf advocates for building networks and connections with like-minded people to advance an organisation’s sustainability journey – education is key.
The sustainability Matters webinar series is part of Made in Britain’s Green Growth Programme
The Green Growth Assessment and Programme are designed to help every manufacturer become more sustainable, by understanding their progress and then taking concrete steps to improve. The service is free to all Made in Britain members via the Members' Area. To find out more about joining Made in Britain, visit www.madeinbritain.org/apply