Carbon Friendly for 10 years – from QR codes to COP26

Matters that concern the environment have always been important to us. As we navigate our way through the forever evolving Highways and Traffic Management industries, it has never been more important to be thinking and acting in ways that promote sustainability, carbon footprint management and general care for the environment.

The commitments spelled out in our Corporate Social Responsibility policy go further than that just what is expected from us by our ISO in environmental management (14001:2015). We have been on a journey towards being carbon-friendly for 10 years now, starting right back to basics with our products.

Our products are by their very nature environmentally friendly, being solar powered and offering an alternative to fixed solutions that draw power from the grid straight away helps the environment in this regard, which is an effect that is only increased by time.

Couple this with some applications that our products can be used for. For example, our variable message signs can be used to help spread messaging that can make an impact on people’s behaviour, such as reminding drivers not to leave their engine running idle, or even to help remind people not to litter.

We also offer a range of data collection solutions that can help Local Authorities, National Highways and site managers determine levels of traffic and their speed, which can then be used to make decisions that can affect the environment, such as issues regarding levels of pollution.

However, a recent product innovation offers a more targeted approach for pollution – the ITS Integrated Environmental Sensor, which can be integrated with any of our products as an additional feature which offers clients the ability to monitor the external environment, producing a wide range of air pollution data that can be used to inform and direct on issues of air pollution safety.

We don’t just embody environmental matters in our products, but in our actions too.

In recent years we have taken a number of steps towards our goal for carbon neutrality and have carried these through every level of our business.

We undergo continual improvement when it comes to our manufacturing. Over the last 10 years, we have improved our unit’s batteries and solar panels in line with the latest innovations in these technologies.

Better charging systems, as well as tilting and more efficient solar panels has resulted in improved run times and fewer battery changes, which means fewer journeys need to be made.

This has a huge impact across our entire fleet.

Some units in the fleet itself can be traced back over a decade now – with continual refurbishments and upgrades, we never dispose of a unit unless it is beyond repair, and even if we do, we salvage what we can and what is safe to, to minimise our waste.

To help cut down on carbon emissions from the deliveries of our products, we have developed a custom built beavertail vehicle to allow us to deploy 3 x VMS-A units, 2 x VMS-C units, or 2 x Solar IP units in one delivery. Our national coverage also means that we can pick the closest depot to deliver a unit from, saving staff who are further away the journey.

Perhaps one of our more wider reaching recent environmentally friendly policies has been our adoption of the ‘Carbon Club’ initiative, which was set up by Forest Carbon to allow smaller organisations and businesses to address their climate impact by planting trees and create new woodlands in the UK on our behalf. This will sequester greenhouse gases from the atmosphere for years to come.

We are committing to the initiative fully by paying for more trees to be planted for each contract our customers place with us.

Over the years, we have also seen significant upgrades to our Matlock HQ also. Technological solutions such as movement sensors and timers in our lights and hand dryers, as well as eco-friendly heating solutions have been installed, along with the introduction of a bee hotel and a hedgehog home that are fully maintained by our team.

Above the flower bed the bee house proudly sits

The importance of bees to the environment and global ecosystems are well documented, and the decision for hedgehog refuge is aligned with one of the downsides to the highways industry, with an estimated 25% of the population of hedgehogs being killed on UK roads each year.

To add to the effort to give back to the local environment, we also maintain an on-site flower bed with plants monitored by our team which offers the added benefit of bringing some natural beauty to our local area and nicely compliments the nearby bee hotel.

Where possible, we prefer to use local suppliers. In sourcing local services and products, we help to massively cut down on our carbon footprint whilst bringing business to our local area.

Major components of our products such as our trailers are sourced from a local business, and wider servicing of work vehicles is also conducted locally. The cumulative saving of these reoccurring needs being seen to in the area will have saved a huge number of travel miles compared to alternative services that may have been offering better rates in different areas of the country or even the world.

Even our waste management systems are carefully considered with regards to the environment. We utilise a specialist waste management company to sort and dispose of waste accordingly, ensuring that what can be recycled is disposed of in the correct way. 

To help keep the local environment friendly for wildlife, the MVIS team have even been on local litter picks this year! 

More recently, we have taken the next steps in our environmentally friendly journey. In preparation for Highways UK 2021, we have developed a new way to inform our customers about our products and solutions that breaks away from the conventional presentation folder and spec sheets, which cumulatively will have a marked impact on the environment.

Using QR codes, visitors to our stand were able to easily request an email to be sent to them automatically after scanning the code and visiting our website. A popup box appears requesting an email address, which, when filled in, triggers the email to be sent to the customer within minutes with the required spec sheets attached.

The paper, ink and the potential waste that is involved in the production and distribution of our information packs, has, over the years, undeniably left its mark on the environment.

However, as with many things, technology has assisted us in helping to address this issue. As a result, even the fuel needed to transport the weight of our packs won’t be used, instead being swapped for a cutting-edge digital system that is both easy and convenient to use.

What’s more is that at events, we have always given away reusable or environmentally friendly merchandise and we absolutely stay away from single use plastics. Goodies such as reusable bamboo coffee cups, trolley tokens and reusable face masks are given out to our customers in a reusable canvas tote bag.

To bring our journey even more up to date, very recently we were invited to the Balfour Beatty Sustainable Evolution Showcase, which is running alongside COP26 in Glasgow.

Based at Balfour Beatty’s Digital Innovation Hub, this event gave us the opportunity to support Balfour Beatty in a celebration of sustainability in the industry, demonstrating our solar powered products to visitors, school children, important delegates at the COP26 event and anyone else in the industry who are interested in sustainability in the industry.

Being present at a show like this gives us the opportunity to help education people on solar powered solutions that can benefit the environment, such as our ITS Environmental Sensor. In doing this, we are not only helping to spread the word, but also serving as an example for other companies who may be interested in embarking on a similar journey.

Graeme Lee, Sales Director at MVIS comments, “Being at the Sustainable Evolution Showcase is an important step for us. Being able to represent MVIS and support Balfour Beatty at a show of this magnitude is a clear example of where a focus on sustainability can lead.”

Anne Ashman, UK Group Commercial and Operations Director added, “There is always room for improvement when it comes to our carbon footprint and it starts with the small things. MVIS have remained committed to giving back to the environment for 10 years now and our commitment is only growing strong as we as a company grow. We are all looking forward to seeing a world where everyone takes environmentally friendly matters this seriously –  and if COP26 is anything to go by, we don’t think this is too far behind.”