text.skipToContent text.skipToNavigation
  1. Home
  2. Go Green - Build A Sustainable Business

Building a Sustainable Business

Interview with Anna McArdle, Sustainability Advisor for Bunzl Cleaning & Safety.

What is the most frequent question on sustainability you get from our customers? And what is your answer?

At the moment, the most frequent question I am getting is how can we help our customers reduce their plastics and carbon emissions? To answer, I suggest we look through the products they are buying the most of to see if they could be using an alternative that still meets their needs but may have a smaller environmental impact or be better aligned with their sustainability goals. I also talk them through our Carbon Delivery Calculator as this can show them the emissions associated with the number of deliveries we make to them and how they could reduce this by changing their ordering patterns.

What is top of the list to change for Bunzl Cleaning & Safety?

Our communication and resources - we really need to get better at telling the world about the great work we have done. We are working on a short flyer as well as a new webpage for Cleaning and Safety so we have an easily accessible and up-to-date source of information for our suppliers, colleagues, customer and the public to access.

How does this office in Wednesbury manage its Green Policies?

In Wednesbury, we have made the most of natural light in the offices and we have installed LEDs with motion (PIR) sensors throughout the office and warehouse to minimise our energy consumption. We also have solar panels on site which will help to meet our energy needs and recently installed Digital Warehouse Management System that will help our transition to paperless operations. The office benefits from having an active social calendar holding monthly events to support staff wellbeing and raise money for different charities, staff trained as mental health first aiders and our first Fairness, Inclusion and Respect ambassador.

What more could we do to keep 'Going Green'?

We can make sure our customers are aware of any sustainable alternatives to products they already buy. Work with our colleagues to make sure the bins are being used correctly so we can keep improving our recycling rates. Challenging our suppliers on materials, processes and packaging. Supporting our colleagues to feel confident in talking about sustainability and sustainable product choices with customers.

How educated and engaged are our colleagues and the Board of Directors on the importance of sustainability and our impact?

We have a really engaged board and enthusiastic colleagues. There is now a sustainability committee that meets quarterly to report on sustainability across Bunzl Plc which BUKI's MD, Andrew Tedbury sits on and reports to the CEO, Frank van Zanten with the other business area heads. I also attend a Sustainability Forum with my colleagues in Sustainability roles across BUKI which helps us brainstorm and share ideas and resources so we can all strive for more sustainable business; this is a big topic that the business is really keen to make progress on. This engagement filters right down from the CEO to our trade counters - I have been approached for support and advice from numerous colleagues across the business who are aware of our impact and want to improve it. We're working on building up a knowledge base to support our staff when they are with customers and the feedback so far has been really positive.

How do we communicate our Green policies to our customers?

At the moment, we're working on some new information to go on our websites and we have been producing some 'Sustainability In Action' leaflets to support the different parts of the business. We have also joined customer meetings and calls to support our sales team in talking about sustainability with our customers. We will have some more communication materials coming later this year which will give our customers a better idea of the journey we are on.

Is there an initiative or policy that has been implemented that you are particularly proud of?

It's too soon to tell! Having been in the job for 3 months now. I've been busy doing a lot of the groundwork to support the initiative going forward. I am proud of the workshops I ran for our Cleaning conference because my colleagues were really engaged in the topic and I think it helped raise awareness of sustainability and improve understanding of why it's so important that we reduce our impact on the planet.

Anything further to add?

Don't be afraid to ask the obvious or silly questions - we're happy to support you and it's important that we know what you don't know so we can provide the right information!

Small Changes to Make a Big Impact

  • Recycling - Separating plastic, paper and waste
  • Motion-activated Lights - reducing our reliance on Carbon Resources
  • Going Digital - automated WMS Processes to reduce printed materials in the Warehouse
  • Solar Panels - onsite panels generate useful energy - renewable resources
  • Supplier Consolidation - using fewer suppliers to provide our products reduces the number of deliveries
  • Remove Kitchen Disposables - no more vending machines, all disposable cups and cutlery have been replaced
  • Volunteer Scheme - all employees have the chance to give back.

EarthSmart covers three pillars:

EarthSmart Innovations

FedEx services and assets, including trucks, services and facilities meet strict, quantifiable standards for innovation and environmental sustainability. Examples of FedEx Global EarthSmart Solutions include the electrically assisted tricycles which operate in Paris, hybrid trucks and all-electric delivery vehicles which FedEx employs in major urban centres including Paris and London and the automated shipping tool Electronic Trade Documents.

EarthSmart Outreach

Through a variety of global and local philanthropic endeavours. FedEx advances its commitment to making communities cleaner, healthier and more efficient by encouraging sustainable transportation, green urban spaces and resilient ecosystems. FedEx supports sustainability projects with team members lending their time and skills to support valuable causes.


Programmes which engage our team members on sustainability matters and help them to make significant contributions to the sustainability of our business qualify as EarthSmart@Work initiatives.

Marketing Materials - FSC Accredited

Going digital - Where possible we are communicating with our customers via email or phone and minimising printed materials. For the items that we still print we use FSC accredited paper, this includes our catalogue and mini-logs that you receive. The FSC ensures environmentally appropriate and socially beneficial forest management. Taking into consideration local people, the forest's biodiversity, productivity and ecological processes.

What We Offer To Our Customers:

More than just a reliable partner, we offer services that make your business more sustainable too.

PPE Recycling:

We are partnered with a PPE recycling service that has a zero-to-landfill policy. All you need to do is request a 'recycling bag' (Product Code: 496169) and provide your contact information, including your address and contact number. The cost is just £19.50 for England, Wales and Southern/Central Scotland. Once you have filled the bag contact number on the 'recycling bag' and a courier will pick it up.

For your ease and privacy, all personalised areas are removed and discarded by the company (i.e logos). All materials are recycled and end uses include fuel for industrial applications, felts and recycled fibre insulation. Full audits/spreadsheets are issued on a monthly basis by the company to show the end uses of all recycled materials.

NEW Recyclable signage:

Our NEW and INNOVATIVE Recycled Signage is made from Cartonplast fluted polypropylene sheets; polypropylene is considered as a 'friendly' plastic that is 100% recyclable. With a smooth surface, it is strong, durable and lightweight, offering resistance to moisture and a wide range of chemicals.

All waste generated in the manufacturing process is recycled and re-extruded, and once the products are no longer needed you can either return them to the mill for recycling or take them to your local waste collection - the sign includes a recycling symbol that makes it easier for local councils to recycling correctly.

Anything can be printed on these signs.

Brand Responsibility

The suppliers and brands we work with are also pioneering change for the Environment. Brands such as Rock Fall, UVEX, Portwest and Pulsar are all taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and choose sustainable materials and processes to promote change in the Safety Industry. Here are a few examples from some of our key suppliers.


Portwest has started by looking at its waste output. Although they cannot get rid of all packaging for their products due to compliance, they have dramatically reduced their packaging used and 80% of this packaging is recyclable.

Rock Fall:

Rock Fall pride itself on being at the forefront of the safety footwear industry through world-first innovations. They also want to 'leave a footprint [they] can be proud of'. Part of the Leather Working Group, using comfort insoles that are made with 45% recycled materials and ethically sourced components. They have removed all paper stuffing from their cartons, reduced their cardboard use for packaging and updated cardboard swing tags to cotton.


UVEX are a global company with a focus on Protecting People - this includes their environment. Over 90% of the energy they consume is green energy, their earplug production processes are waterless and virtually CO2-neutral. They have invested in solar power, recycled plastic waste they re-use in their footwear manufacturing, and the majority of their staff have electric company cars.

Deb Skin Care:

Deb Skin Care Cartridges and recyclable (excludes insert). Many of their washroom foam soaps and hand cleaners (including Power Foams) are also EU Ecolabel accredited.