Lit Award Winner: Intelligent Hand-Dryers

Lit Award Winner: Intelligent Hand-Dryers

When I first thought about an award that recognised suppliers who offered a sustainable product or service that was commercially viable I had envisaged that I’d spot them during the course of my work – or they’d be recommended to me by others doing the same work.

This winner came completely out of the blue.  Whilst listening to the radio in fact. What grabbed me was an item in the Adrian Chiles Radio 5 Live show that had picked up on a seemingly outrageous move by a Sheffield-based company to make bringing non-reusable plastic into the office a disciplinary offence.   

Intelligent Facility Solutions Limited describe themselves as the UK and Ireland’s first Carbon trust accredited supplier of energy efficient hand dryers.   This in itself is – on the face of it – an impressive claim in terms of sustainability. Intelligent Hand Dryers plan to make it a disciplinary offence to bring single-use plastic into the office. IHD will change employee contracts so that if staff receive three warnings and continue to ignore them, they could be sacked. The ban includes disposable coffee cups with plastic linings, plastic water bottles and sandwich packets with plastic windows

As ever with the news, there’s more to it than just the headline.  

Look a little deeper and we find that this isn’t the Draconian measure it’s been made out to be.  It started in consultation with the staff.   A business that is seemingly already passionate about living its promises on sustainability recognised that the day-to-day lunch routine was creating a negative impact. So staff were asked to consider the idea of banning single use plastics – no plastic milk cartons, no sweet or crisp wrappers, water bottles, etc.

Staff were apparently open to the idea – and a number of further ideas were discussed and introduced to make the change easier:

  • Providing reusable bottles
  • Weekly delivery of fruit, as much in season and locally produced as possible
  • Glass bottled milk delivery
  • Collection of sweet treats weekly

Whilst criticising a business owner for forcing his staff to live to his values seemed to make for good column inches in some newspapers, for the most part the coverage was positive.    Personnel Today picked out the important staff involvement – as well as highlighting IFS Ltd’s owner’s support measures.   Andrew Cameron was quoted:

“We have already provided reusable bottles and staff are now encouraged to use the local sandwich shop and eat in rather than take-out packaging from supermarkets.   This is a double positive as it forces the workaholics in the office to take a bit of time out of the office to enjoy their lunch rather than rush back and eat at their desks.” 

IHD Owner Andrew Cameron in Personnel Today

This initiative is impressive.  I’ve written before about being true to values in “Say What You Do, Do What You Say” and this is a clear case of a firm who make claims about the environmental benefits of their product living those values in their day-to-day business.

Congratulations to our second Get Lit winner, Intelligent Hand-Dryers (IFS Limited).