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Sustainability in Enterprise - Murphy & Son

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Basford-based manufacturing business, Murphy & Son Ltd., has been supporting the world's leading breweries for over 130 years, providing technical support and supplies for brewers, wine-makers, and manufacturing chemists.

Through NTU's Sustainability in Enterprise project, the business has been working closely with NTU's qualified and experienced consultants to accurately calculate their carbon impact and put an action plan in place to reduce emissions.

We spoke to Head of Technical, Iain Kenny in autumn 2021 to find out how he and the business has benefitted from the support on offer.

Murphy and Son premises from above

Aerial view of Murphy & Son's premises

Iain Kenny from Murphy and Son

Iain Kenny, Head of Technical at Murphy & Son

Iain has been working for the business for more than four years, and his day-to-day role includes responsibility for the laboratory, sustainability, and research and development.

When asked about Murphy & Son's sustainability journey to date, he says:

"For me personally, I'm quite new to sustainability and as with most new things it is often quite difficult to know where to start. The greatest barriers we've encountered are time and knowledge.

"We've invested in solar panels and we have quite an old building so we've tried to invest in good insulation, decent quality windows and so on. The issue we face now is that things have moved on and it's about stepping up to that next level.

"Calculating carbon emissions can be difficult for businesses. We're not a massive team, so the Sustainability in Enterprise project seemed like an ideal way to get us set up and running so we know that we're doing it right."

Before engaging with NTU, Murphy & Son had started several green initiatives such as a 'take-back scheme', where their suppliers and contractors return drums and containers to them to clean, recycle and reuse.

NTU Sustainability Consultant, Robyn Thompson, was particularly impressed with this initiative, saying: "The cleaning and reuse of their containers is a great circular scheme; it's not very often that you see companies successfully getting back their equipment from suppliers and contractors and going on to do something productive with it.

"Initiatives like this one, supported by a sustainable workplace culture has really set the scheme up for successfully making future improvements."

What they can do right now

Iain was a little apprehensive when first going into the consultancy.

"I thought it would just be looking for one or two quick fixes and that's it. But what has been great is the scope of the sustainability consultancy is so broad. It has helped to bring everything together and has helped inform us how to coordinate it better.

"The Sustainability Consultants have been great, approachable and helpful, and the process was very easy and productive. They didn't just tell us, 'you need to do this, and you need to buy that', it's been a lot more thoughtful, educational and has given us the mindset to say 'right, what can we work out now? Let's start to address what we know, and then take a deep breath and plan where we want to be in a year'.

"Our recommendations were divided into two - what we can do now, and what we can do in the future. Short-term goals included looking at our energy and gas usage and the carbon footprint of our processes. We intend to reduce our usage by introducing sensors and thermostats to our premises and equipment, and increase our engagement with staff. We will also start carbon offsetting our entire carbon footprint in 2022 to achieve carbon neutrality whilst we continue to reduce our emissions as much as possible over the coming years.

"It won't be long before we start to look at more and improved renewable energy on-site, and thanks to the consultancy we know how to work out our demand and make it achievable.

"We are also interested in working towards a B-Corp accreditation which will measure our environmental impact and our social impact at a community level. We are looking to play a bit more of an active part in the local community and the Sustainability Community Lab, along with the consultancy will help us with this.

"Tamsin - our graduate Sustainability Coordinator - has also recently spoken to our Managing Director and convinced him to create a beehive on-site, so there's lots of different things we are trying and starting to pull together. Again, it comes back to that green mindset, once you get into it and get others on-board, you really start to get moving."

What they are going to do in the future

The priority goal for Murphy & Son is to find a new site for their operations.

Iain says: "One of the drivers for this is to help us become more carbon neutral, at least for scopes 1 and 2, and now that we've got the knowledge of how to further reduce our direct emissions through the sustainability consultancy recommendations that relate to large infrastructure changes, we can integrate it into our new building design.

"There's also the prospect of a Building Management System. Until the team mentioned it, I would never have thought of something like that, but when you look at it and the cost, it's a no-brainer if you have a reasonably-sized business, it'll look after itself for you. It'll be the first thing on the shopping list for us when we move to the new site."

Murphy & Son are the first business on the Sustainability in Enterprise project to have accessed a carbon grant to implement more carbon reduction initiatives.

They will be investing in an on-site waste bailer for their plastic and cardboard which will improve processes, reducing recycling collections from weekly to just 2-3 per year, and increase the value of their waste.

The impact

As a top-line figure, the recommendations provided to Murphy & Son could result in them saving an estimated 216 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent), or 65% of their overall footprint, from their operations and a financial saving of around £24,000 per year.

Their immediate actions will result in a reduction of 27%, or 90 tonnes of CO2e.

Robyn Thompson has been supporting Iain throughout the process and reflects on the dedication to carbon reduction and adopting more sustainable practices by saying: "What we've seen is an exceptional commitment from Iain and Tamsin. They've really taken our report and all of our recommendations on board and even taken steps beyond by looking into allotments that can utilise on-site organic waste and beehives to increase biodiversity.

"Our consultancy support has fuelled an important conversation and sustainability transition at Murphy & Son which is fantastic to see - we're really excited to see their first Annual Sustainability Report next year, and can hopefully come back to see the bees!"

Murphy & Son has benefitted from the Sustainability in Enterprise project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

To get in touch, email sie@ntu.ac.uk, or fill out the enquiry form on our website.

If you are an employee of a small or medium-sized business in Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire, you may also be interested in our ESF-funded Sustainability and Inclusive Leadership course which is delivered at no cost and will be available from early 2022.