The Covid-19 pandemic in the UK has done much to thrust the environment and the climate emergency back into the limelight, and prime minister Boris Johnson has made it his government’s mission to build back better and spearhead a green economic recovery to respond to such concerns. With environmental considerations very much a priority for the UK, many industries are keen to play their part, and Brown & Tawse, a steel stockholder and distributor based in Dundee and across other sites in Scotland and northern England, is one business that has gotten off to a head start and been reshuffling its operations in recent years with the environment and the future in mind.
Managing director Ian Harding was among a group who purchased Brown & Tawse in 1997 and it today serves all industrial sectors in all parts of Scotland and is the largest steel stockholder north of the border. Writing in The Parliamentary Review, Harding explained that in recognition of the fact that the environment was becoming an ever-greater priority, industry had a duty to play its part.
Harding said: “Environmental considerations are rightly at the top of our nation’s priority list, and industry is seeking to play its part here.”
One of the ways that Brown & Tawse has sought to amend its operations its by altering how one of its primary products, structural sections, are imported, which both increased efficiency by reducing transportation times and methods and also benefited the environment by removing the need for long road journeys and factoring out associated vehicle emissions.
Harding explained: “In the last five years, we have succeeded in moving the port of entry of one of our main products, structural sections, from the Lincolnshire coast to a port in east Scotland. To date, we’ve removed 1,200 25-tonne loads of steel from the UK’s roads. Previously, each load travelled 300 miles [primarily on motorways] up to our depot in Dundee. Now, a dedicated vessel docks in Dundee or Montrose and we transport the steel a few miles into our depot.”
Indeed, keeping vehicle emissions down has been one of the key priorities for the heavy good transport industry. Other ways Brown & Tawse have sought to make their own operations as efficient as possible is by redirecting empty vehicles returning from customer deliveries to collect steel imports from the docks and avoid having unnecessary numbers of vehicles on the roads.
Harding added: “Moreover, and unusually in our sector, we use a bespoke prime-mover and trailer configuration, which means that empty vehicles returning home from customer deliveries can be used to collect incoming steel from various dock locations.
“Reductions in vehicle emissions, particularly diesel, are again a high national priority; the heavy goods transport industry has pioneered the introduction of emissions reduction technology.”
As more industries mobilise and look to make their contribution to the UK’s ambition for a greener future, firms would do well to look at the example of Brown & Tawse as a business actively trying to make a difference that is successfully doing so without having to carry out any large-scale overhaul.