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Carl Asks: Is security really going green?

Carl Asks: Is security really going green?

Wind turbines on rolling hills

THE QUESTION: We've heard a lot about the importance of environmental policy, but is it really happening in the security industry? And if so, what's being done?

THE ANSWER: I'm afraid I'm a bit 'old school' when it comes to 'green' issues. It seems, however, that I may be more environmentally aware than I first thought.

Mention matters environmental and my mind immediately flips between images of Greta Thunberg and Jeremy Clarkson. One chastising me for my role in melting ice caps and the other driving gas guzzling four-wheel drive monsters through virgin forest.

So, when our esteemed editor, Mr Hildebrand, asked me to comment on how environmentally aware the security industry was, I reached for my BSIA phone book and phoned a few members.

I started off by asking three questions about their company's attitude to environmental policies:

  1. Do you treat them as another box-ticking exercise?

  2. Is your main focus on legal compliance? Or -

  3. Do you go above and beyond, embracing the opportunity to make a real difference?

I assumed most would fall into the first category. I was wrong.

Companies of all sizes are buying into the green agenda. Typically, it will start with a customer, usually a High Street name or corporation. They will have green policies which they will require suppliers to buy into.

Then comes the transformation.

What often starts as a grudging, box-ticking exercise changes into acceptance and then full-blown embrace as companies realise the benefits offered by environmental practices. You're not just becoming 'green' for the sake of it, you are also deriving benefits yourself.

Going green isn't about making sweeping changes and grand gestures. The changes can be quite modest at first. Here are a few suggestions my BSIA pals came up with.

Traffic on the motorway with cars driving in the distance

Packaging

We've all opened that box containing the latest piece of technical wizardry, only to find mountains of plastic wrapping, a cardboard sleeve, foam insert and a virtual forest of warranty documents and instruction manuals.

Where packaging is concerned, plastic is not the only option. Packaging can be environmentally friendly, incorporating biodegradable materials instead. Do we really need a detailed instruction manual in 15 different languages, or could we replace it with a Quick Start Guide supported by online resources?

Energy

Now that we are faced with eye-watering increases in the cost of energy this has become a real hot potato. Start by measuring energy use whether it's in the product, the manufacturing process or your place of work. Once you've documented energy usage you can start to look at ways of optimising it's use. Leaner production lines, LED lighting, power saving designs. All achievable.

Travel costs

Whether it's people or product, there are ways to reduce travel and shipping. One benefit from the pandemic is that it has made people think 'Is this trip really necessary?' Communications have changed. People are happy to converse online. But there's more, as manufacturers recognise the benefits of producing product where it is going to be used instead of shipping it around the globe.

Recycling and sustainability

It is no longer acceptable to 'rip out' old kit and consign it to landfill. Legislation is forcing manufacturers to consider disposal and recycling of kit and components. But many are also recognising that recycling can have benefits.

Without a doubt the security industry, as a whole, has been slow to adopt green practices. This is changing.

However, before you get too excited, there is a 'But'.

It seems that many smaller companies, in particular those with modest work forces, are less receptive to going green.

So, is it ignorance or indifference? I know from personal experience that running a small company can be an exhausting challenge.

It's easy to put yourself in the role of a harassed MD faced with another sheaf of bureaucracy. More boxes to tick when all you want to do is get on with your job and make some money. The fact is there are opportunities associated with going green, and given the current state of play environmental issues and their associated legislation are here to stay.

My own company has adopted a more enlightened stance. The owners and Directors experienced their environmental epiphany some years back, and now proudly add ISO14001 to the firm's quality assurance credentials.

Companies in the security sector are starting to realise that they are faced with a choice: make the world a greener place through good practice, or go the way of the dinosaurs.

Two security cameras on a grey wall

Carl Gibbard

Carl Gibbard was co-founder of Concept Smoke Screen Ltd and a pioneer in the use of smoke and fog in a security role. Currently chair of the BSIA Export Council and Vice Chair of the Security Equipment Manufacturer’s Section.


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