Our Environmental Sustainability
The firm recognises that our day-to-day activities impact on the environment in both positive and negative ways. We wish to minimise any harmful effects wherever and whenever practicable and will work to secure business benefit from environmental protection.
Wolferstans is committed to the prevention of pollution and will work to minimise the impact of its operations through a continuous improvement program.
Our dedicated Green Group consider, make and carry out positive changes and take collective steps to lessen our carbon footprint, improve our environmental impact, reduce our landfill waste and encourage all to recycle more.
As a firm we have implemented numerous green initiatives and continue to do so, encouraging all staff to suggest further improvements. We are determined to be as green as we possibly can – from reducing our single use plastic, monitoring our energy usage to planting bee friendly plants and installing bee hotels. We are also involved in local community green groups with the aim of making our local area more sustainable.
Wolferstans became a member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance (LSA) on 20 August 2018. We set out below the 7 principles of the LSA and how we meet these:
1. Measure, manage and reduce the impact of our operations:
The firm have implemented numerous changes since becoming part of the LSA Group. We have been successful in reducing, measuring and managing the impact of our operations, including but not limited to:
Paper light: An awareness of the need to print and if so the use and monitoring of duplex printing;
Filtered mains water dispensers, hot water boilers rather than kettles and Plymouth One Cups;
Switching off monitors and lights;
Donating surplus office furniture and computer equipment to charities;
Providing free trade drinks and biodegradable cups in our reception for clients;
Recycling (no landfill); and
Cycle scheme (provision of bike shelter and shower block).
There is a drive to continue to monitor our environmental impact and to continue to reduce our impact as a firm.
2. Work with external stakeholders to reduce our indirect impact:
The firm has worked hard to encourage external agencies and providers to assist in our ethical endeavours, which we continue to pursue with relentless enthusiasm and social courage to affect change.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Requesting medical records on disc from the NHS and experts rather than paper copies;
Working with other local companies with similar ethical beliefs;
Recycling toners with print management company; and
Working with the waste company to achieve ‘zero to landfill’.
3. Integrate awareness of climate change across our business:
Raising awareness within the firm forms the fundamental basis on which we can continue to encourage change. Efforts and examples include but are not limited to:
Regular ‘Wolf Whistle’ (internal publication) and Green Induction;
Support from the Leadership Board to implement the changes from the top;
Green Group agenda at each department meeting; and
Creating a page on our website to increase awareness and scope.
4. Advise clients on the opportunities and obligations arising from and under climate change law:
If we were instructed by any clients who should consider climate change law within their transaction, we would of course advise them accordingly.
We provide parking for clients and the opportunity to visit a branch office closer to their home, or skype facilities to eradicate unnecessary travelling. If a client had any questions regarding our green credentials they would be directed to our Green Page on the website.
As a firm we try to comply with and consider the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
5. Work collaboratively to engage in the public debate on climate change and to develop, apply and promote best practice across the sector:
The Green Group have enrolled the firm in several groups and forums including Plastic Free Plymouth and Clean our Patch, and are members of Devon & Somerset Law Society Environmental Steering Group. This increases our awareness of what is taking place in the public domain and raises the firm’s profile in having a presence at these events.
6. Report on our progress and be accountable:
The firm have formed a focused and committed Green Group who meet monthly (with at least one member from each office). Monthly minutes are taken as a record of what has been achieved and new objectives are set for each department and the firm as a whole. There is continued monitoring of our progress and implementation of new ideas.
7. Adopt and pursue a challenging emissions reduction target appropriate for our own organisation and needs, achievement of which will deliver over stated time periods a meaningful and progressive reduction in our emissions:
The Green Group have produced a comprehensive report that records the ethos of the committee and the milestones that have been achieved since becoming members of the LSA. The report highlights areas of development and progression as we move forward. This will allow the firm to continue to reduce its own emissions as a business and develop strategies for further improvement over time.
1.1 The firm recognises that our day-to-day activities impact on the environment in both positive and negative ways. The firm wishes to minimise any harmful effects wherever and whenever practicable and will work to secure business benefit from environmental protection.
1.2 Wolferstans is committed to the prevention of pollution and will work to minimise the impact of its operations through a continuous improvement program.
In particular, we will:
a. Comply with all relevant existing environmental legislation and other requirements.
b. Reduce harmful emissions wherever practicable.
c. Seek to reduce consumption of materials in our operations and promote recycling and the use of recycled goods.
d. Manage energy and water usage wisely in all our operations.
e. Incorporate environmental considerations into the procurement of goods and services.
2.1 To achieve our aims we will:
a. Allocate sufficient management resources to ensure effective implementation of the environmental policy.
b. Motivate and educate our employees to conduct their activities in an environmentally friendly manner, initially through the green induction form and thereafter the Green Corner of the Wolf Whistle submitted by the Green Group.
c. Review our policy on a regular basis to take account of new developments in environmental management and legislation, and also our stakeholder expectations.
3. Recent and current procedures
3.1 The firm have now implemented the following procedures:
a. Staff are asked only to print documents when absolutely necessary.
b. Staff are required to use the email facilities as a preference at all times. Royal Mail should only be used when there are no other means of contact available.
c. Staff are asked to use the firm’s Case Management System effectively to reduce printing. documents, letters and emails and also to aid the firm in its mission to become paper light.
d. We have implemented a filtered water system to prevent the use of bottled water.
e. Staff have been supplied with One Plymouth Cups and glasses to reduce the amount of single use plastic.
f. We have implemented a new bin system that promotes recycling within the offices.
g. The company we use to dispose of our confidential waste recycle all the paper once shredded and thus we save trees from destruction.
h. We recycle toner cartridges, old computer equipment and furniture.
i. We have changed the courier car to one with lower emissions.
j. We encourage our experts to receive documentation via email or disc rather than hard copies.
k. We encourage cycling to work and provide a bike shelter and shower facilities to promote this.
l. We encourage marketing companies to email us and not to send physical literature or gifts.
3.2 The firm have joined the Legal Sustainability Alliance and work towards implementing their 7 principles. We are also an ambassador for Plastic Free Plymouth.
3.3 Wolferstans recognises that the effective implementation of the policy represents an opportunity to improve the performance of the firm by reducing environmental risks and impacts and increasing the efficiency of our operations. Staff are required to adhere to environmentally friendly processes as far as is practicably possible.
4. Policy review
4.1 Suggestions for improvements to our environmental footprint can be made to the Green Group. This policy will be reviewed annually by our Managing Partner.
Plastic Free Communities is a movement to engage and connect individuals, communities and businesses in the collective effort to tackle the issue of single use plastic.
Wolferstans have signed up for the Plastic Free Plymouth Campaign as we work towards removing single-use plastic from our business.
We want to encourage as many businesses/individuals as possible to attain the Plastic Free Accreditation by banishing at least three avoidable single-use plastic items from their lives. Since its launch in 2018 over 118 schools, community groups and families have signed up to be Plastic Free Community Ambassadors and 102 local businesses have signed up to be Plastic Free Pioneers and Plymouth have gained citywide status. There is now a citywide code on plastics endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce.
Find Britain’s Ocean City’s Code of Conduct here.
Our initial three single-use plastic items which we have replaced are:-
• moving from single-use cups in our vending machine to One Plymouth Cups
• moving from bottled water dispensers to filtering mains water for drinking; and
• filling carafes of filtered mains water rather than using individual water bottles.
If you want to be a plastic free pioneer like us it’s easy – all you need to do is have a look around and identify three things which you could do without (this could be straws, water bottles, sauce sachets etc). Once you have identified these three things you can complete the pledge form here and send it to Jackie Young of Environment Plymouth who is coordinating the citywide campaign at email@example.com
Environment Plymouth also offer interesting and helpful workshops and keep you updated with local events such as beach and river cleans. Take a look at this interesting poster.
More information regarding the Plastic Free Plymouth Campaign please click here.
#Plastic Free Communities
#Plastic Free Coastlines
Some frightening stats:
• 5,000 items of marine plastic pollution can be found per mile of beach in the UK.
• The UK uses a staggering 38.5m single-use plastic bottles every day and fewer than 60% are currently recycled.
• Only 1% of the 2.5billion paper coffee cups used in the UK each year are recycled.
• Plastic bags take 100-300 years to fragment but will remain at large in the environment indefinitely.
• Globally we produce 300m tonnes of plastic each year and of that an estimated 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the global marine environment annually.
• 8m pieces of plastic pollution find their way into the ocean every day.
In the UK 2.5 billion single use coffee cups are thrown away every single year (with 399 out of every 400 sent to landfill as they are not recyclable). From August 2018 we no longer provided single vend cups for the vending machines and every member of staff were provided with a One Plymouth Cup (for the year from August 2018-2019 we saved 32,181 single use cups being used).
Plymouth One Cups can be purchased from a variety of local cafes and businesses and each purchase includes a 25p charitable donation to National Marine Aquarium to help fund their vital research projects and their marine conservation agenda.
It’s a ‘Bonus Cup’, with discounts offered at local businesses including #1, Theatre Royal, Plymouth Uni, Boston Tea Party, The Treasury, to name but a few. For more information please click here.
The benefits of the One Plymouth cup are:
• They are extremely durable, long-life product which is designed to last.
• It is a thermal mug which keeps your hot drinks warm and cold drinks cool.
• It is lightweight and easy to carry around.
• Manufactured in the UK and part of a locally promoted scheme supporting a Plymouth Charity, The National Marine Aquarium.
• Screw top lid making it a lot more spill-proof and long lasting.
• Dishwasher and microwave safe.
Follow the dedicated Facebook Group.
Keep an eye out for special discounts when using your ‘One Plymouth Cup’ at participating cafes (#DoingMyBit).
Clean our Patch – We have joined this Plymouth based community action group and have pledged to keep our area clean.
Beach clean – We have pledged to be involved in at least two beach cleans per annum.
If you want to organise your own clean or join a group click here.
We have pledged to the Mayflower Forest Campaign – Leading members of Plymouth’s construction industry have launched a fundraising campaign to build an iconic ‘Mayflower Forest’ to welcome visitors to the city as part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations. The ‘Road to Mayflower’ team is planning a new landscape design to revitalise Marsh Mills Roundabout as a green gateway transforming the arrival experience as well as creating significant environmental benefits.
Receptions – We only provide Fairtrade drinks for clients and our reception water dispensers have biodegradable cups.
LED Lights – As we refurbish our offices, we are moving towards LED lighting.
Cycle Spaces – We provide a parking shelter and shower facilities for staff. As a firm we have also signed up to a cycle scheme which provides bikes at a discounted rate.
We have also been in contact with PCC’s Plymotion Scheme who work with businesses to develop and deliver sustainable travel policies in the workplace to encourage staff to travel more actively and reduce C02 by helping to produce a Travel Plan. Plymotion also offer free adult cycle training and bicycle safety checks.
Jute Bags – We have provided all our staff with a jute bags to encourage them to use these for their shopping, instead of plastic bags. The bags are 100% plastic free and are eco-friendly.
Bee Friendly – In our country, we are suffering from a tragic decline of our bees with 35 UK species of bees under threat of extinction. To show that we are committed in our quest to save the bees, we have our own 2 bee hotels and have planted some bee friendly plants. You can order a Bee Saver Kit from Friends of the Earth, which comes with wildflower seeds, a garden planner, a bee spotter guide and bee postcards by clicking here.
Outdoor Seating – Getting outdoors can do great things for your health. Reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and improving immune function are among nature’s health benefits. What’s more, incorporating elements of nature into your workday can also give your brain a boost, resulting in increased productivity, focus and creativity. With this is mind, all our offices have been provided with outdoor seating and tables all made from 100% recycled plastic.
Choosing a recycled plastic furniture product from the UK helps the environment and have the following practical and economic advantages:
• Using recycled plastic in the form of recycled plastic furniture saves you time and effort
• Recycled plastic furniture will last for decades without any maintenance
• However wet it gets, recycled plastic furniture will never rot
• Never requires painting or toxic chemicals to preserve it
• Stays looking good continuously throughout its long and productive life
• Saves you money – Taking into account the need to start maintaining wooden furniture after 2 years and inevitably replace the item after about 7 years, recycled plastic furniture is up to 80% cheaper than sticking with the traditional wooden variety
• At the end of its life, or if you just want a change, it can be recycled all over again
Green Week – our dedicated Green Group organise an annual Green Week. This is an opportunity to encourage staff to think about their green credentials and provide informative talks on various topics from regeneration to balcony gardening.
Waste – All staff are encouraged to recycle as much as possible. Our waste contractor has a zero to landfill policy and recycle as much as possible.
General Waste – All our general waste, which we are unable to recycle, goes to Barne Barton Incinerator or, it’s more formal title, Devonport Energy From Waste Combined Heat & Power Facility. Since it opened in 2015, the former Chelson Meadow landfill site, which was creating all sorts of environmental problems including escaping methane, has closed.
Every year, the Barne Barton Incinerator turns 245,000 tonnes of general waste into 190,000 megawatt hours of electricity and around 30,000 megawatt hours of steam with which:
• they supply the dockyard with all their electricity needs;
• they feed excess electricity into the grid for general use; and
• they use the steam for heating and hot water in the new social housing development at Barne Barton.
Any leftover metal from the furnace is recycled and even the remaining ash is filtered and used in road construction!
It’s an interesting place to visit and it’s good to see that our general waste is going to a good use. Through a small hatch in the incinerator you can see the inferno created inside where actual fire is reaching temperatures touching that of lava.
With all the green credentials, we are pleased to report that fears over emissions are also happily unfounded – baking soda and activated carbon are added to the boiler to commence the cleaning process, then the emissions pass through 2,400 individual filters, so what ends up coming out of the chimney is essentially hot air and hot water – that’s why you see a white plume of water vapour emitting from the chimney.
Although the general waste of the office is now being put to good use, the plant was keen to state that they believe 2/3rds of what they burn each day could in fact be recycled, but we do not believe that statistic is true for our offices.
Confidential Waste – the company we use for our document destruction recycles all paper once shredded. On average this amounts to us saving 500 trees from destruction each year.
Recycle the Unrecyclable – TerraCycle is an innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycle hard-to-recycle materials. Did you know Terracycle will recycle items such as crisp packets, cake bar wrappers, biscuit wrappers, coffee pods and refill packs and even toothbrush heads?
We take all our hard to recycle items to the nearest TerraCycle drop off point which is Peverell Library, Peverell Park Road.
We also recycle all our toners and drums with Zero Waste Recycling and any polystyrene packaging is collected and baled to be reused.
Frequently asked questions:
Q: Why is it necessary to separate waste into different bins?
A: Each material has a different potential use after it is disposed of. In a situation where everything is collected together, this would require an intense amount of sorting in order to split items into different streams. This is extremely difficult, extremely expensive and not economically viable for most waste management companies. By splitting things at the source, then this will ensure less sorting is required, less contamination and ultimately more chance of things being diverted from landfill for recycling or reuse.
Q: Can you recycle tissues?
A: No. At work, tissue paper, used or unused, wet or dry should go into the general waste bin as it is not high quality enough to be recycled.
Q: Are coffee shop plastic cups recyclable?
A: While technically, these cups can be recycled under the right circumstances, they usually are not. Most facilities don’t recycle paper cups because to do so, they would have to separate the cups’ plastic lining from the paper. Many recyclers find that process to be more trouble than it’s worth.
Q: Can I recycle wrapping paper?
A: Plain wrapping paper can be recycled. However if the paper is decorated with glitter, bows, jewels and other similar items it cannot be recycled. You may wish to consider this when purchasing your Christmas wrapping paper.
Q: What can I do to help make my firm go green?
A: Wolferstans have made much use of the local support and advice groups which specialise in reducing plastic and waste in Plymouth. As individuals we all have the power to start making changes however if you are able to convince your employer to go green then the impact is much greater. Going green is a journey and one in which we advise that you take as many people with you as possible. So ask for volunteers and set up a Green Group, everyone will have different ideas and suggestions. To encourage all staff to get involved it is prudent to maintain an advisory rather than a preaching stance.
We would recommend the following as a good place to start in your quest to make your business green:
• Surfers against Sewage
• Plastic Free Communities
• The Legal Sustainability Alliance
• Friends of the Earth
• Liaise with your local council to see what plans they have in place for reducing carbon, litter or waste.
If you have any suggestions or comments or would like to contact us please feel free via firstname.lastname@example.org