The Full Package: How family-run catering business Reynolds is Adapting to Meet European Green Standards

Some companies are bending over backwards to make sure that their green credentials meet the exacting requirements of new British and European environmental standards. Nowhere is this more clear than family- run catering business Reynolds, which has grown from a market fruit stall into one of the UK’s leading independent distributors of fresh and chilled produce to the foodservice market. The Reynolds family has been supplying fresh produce for over sixty years, since patriarch William Reynolds set up a fruit and veg stall at Ridley Road Market in Hackney. Since then the family, including chairman David Reynolds and his son and managing director Tony, have grown the business from supplying restaurants in London to eventually relocating to a newly developed site at the New Spitalfields Market in Leyton in 1993, and finally opening a new national distribution facility at Waltham Cross in September 2005. Since the move to the new facilities there has been an increased awareness of environmental issues within the company, taking into account customer demands for sustainability. Reynolds secured funding through the International Tourism Partnership with consultancy support from White Young Green Environmental Ltd, to introduce an environmental management system to meet the requirements of the new British Standard BS8555. This standard aims to achieve European Standard ISO 14001, aimed at helping organizations minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment, through six certified phases. Reynolds has already achieved the first five and expects to complete the final phase and audit within the next 12 months. Packaging As Reynolds implemented the standard a number of assessments were completed on site, including a Carbon Trust survey, which led to a number of environmental initiatives. These included increasing staff awareness on environmental issues and identifying areas of improvement within the company through energy and material usage. One of the areas where a real impact has been made is the reduction of cardboard packaging. Cardboard boxes are used both for transporting goods coming into the company (e.g. oranges) and also for distributing to customers. Reynolds has introduced a stepped approach to make improvements in this area; firstly by investigating a reduction in supplier packaging, and where this is not possible, cardboard recycling. As the next challenge, a returnable crate scheme has also been implemented and has reduced the impact on natural resources by eliminating the need for cardboard packaging in the first place. These crates are washed using state of the art equipment designed to ensure the most efficient and environmentally friendly system. Through these initiatives a number of environmental achievements have been made. Reynolds has recycled over 550 tonnes of cardboard in the past year, which has in turn conserved an estimated 9,350 trees and four million gallons of water. Through the plastic crate scheme over one million less cardboard boxes have been sent to customers over the same period, which has saved 500 tonnes of cardboard, and 500 individual accounts have now changed over to crates, meaning less refuse collection at a cost to the customer. Only 30 crates were deemed beyond economical repair last year, and these were subsequently returned to the supplier for recycling. Vehicles The implementation of the British Standard has ensured a structured approach to identifying the many daunting areas that should be covered by an environmental management system. The motivation and enthusiasm seen through this process has led to a number of other issues being tackled, including a complete re-assessment of the company’s 165 vehicles. Through driver training and the use of biofuels across the fleet, Reynolds is targeting at least a 10% reduction in carbon emissions (equivalent to 5,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide) over the next year. The company has invested in further resources such as Paragon, a computer program that analyses more efficient routing. This has been tied into fuel usage monitoring and driver education, and Smartdrive cameras within the cabs are also being used to work with drivers on driving style, allowing feedback to be given on areas of improvement. The purchasing strategy for new vehicles includes using only Euro 5 vehicles in which fridges would have direct drive units, thus removing the need for diesel dependant fridges. Sense of achievement “These collective initiatives have given Reynolds a real sense of achievement, along with the knowledge that there is a positive impact on the environment,” says Tony. “It is true that there is still much which can be completed, and that there are still many challenges to be tackled, but Reynolds are proud of the progress so far in the proactive and continuously improving system in place.”