Working Towards a Circular Economy in Facilities Management

Working Towards a Circular Economy in Facilities Management

The ‘circular economy’ describes a way to reuse materials to continue production in an environmentally-friendly way. The idea is that materials never become waste and nature is regenerated.

In recent years it’s become a bit of a buzzword in business. What does it actually look like to advance the circular economy in the Facilities Management industry?

Uniforms made from recycled material

Have you thought about using recycled fabric for your uniforms? There are plenty of businesses that specialise in this now. Given that uniform is one of the biggest expenditures for many businesses, it can make a huge impact on your carbon footprint when you switch to this sort of sustainable uniform.

Using UK-based suppliers

Wherever possible, working with UK-based suppliers will reduce your emissions from imports. Of course, some specialist items may still need to be flown in from elsewhere. But in the past, many businesses have imported from places like China and India simply because it was cheaper to do so. Nowadays, businesses tend to prioritise their impact on the environment over cost (in some areas).

Energy considerations

A simple switch to motion-activated LED lighting can make a significant impact on your energy usage. At SGS, all of our lighting is LED and we’ve noticed a reduction in our energy bills. We also took the decision to switch to a green tariff recently, so that we can be sure that the energy provided to us comes from renewable sources. This helps us run more sustainable facilities.

Replacing paper-based systems with technology

Are there any systems in your operations that still rely heavily on paper? There’s usually a suitable alternative that requires less paper, or no paper at all. Some of these ideas fall under the umbrella of ‘green technology’ for FM.

One example is ID badges. At SGS we now only use electronic ID badges and our people sign in on an app. It’s especially effective as part of a Net Zero strategy for security. There’s no printing, plastic or postage involved in creating physical badges anymore. But it has additional benefits too. Each ID badge has a QR code which contains the basic details of the employee. A manager need only scan the QR code to pre-populate forms and consents, which saves an awful lot of time every day.

We’ve also switched to an electronic daily occurrence book. Security officers now fill out their activities and observations in an app or on the web browser. Everything is stored online which removes the need for any printing, delivery and paper storage.

Sustainable transportation

Electric Vehicles are ideal if you’re able to plan your time and make sure that you can reach charging points when you need them.

But many jobs don’t have that level of predictability. If you can’t yet commit to EVs, fuel-efficient options and hybrid options will still contribute to creating a circular economy in your workplace.

At SGS, all of our site-based vehicles are electric. That works well for the short journeys, and we know we always have a central charging point at HQ. However, our escort vehicles need a bit more flexibility, so those vehicles are hybrid.

Review how your employees get to work

One final thing that is often the most challenging area for employers is how their people get to and from work. Can you support them to make more environmentally-friendly choices? Perhaps that’s creating secure bike storage, investing in showers at the office, or even putting on a dedicated bus service for you people.

We take processes apart, rethink, rebuild, and deliver them back working smarter than ever before.