Providing sustainable low-carbon laundry services through wide-reaching initiatives and technology.
We are a small eco-laundry based in Nash, Milton Keynes. Sustainability isn’t something that’s normally associated with dry cleaning and laundry services, but we’re working hard to change that perception. We use ozone to reduce washing temperatures, choose biodegradable washing detergent, deliver in an electric van, and do not use single-use plastics throughout our business.
Right from the start, we wanted to put sustainability at the heart of our company as it’s important to us as individuals. We began our journey by researching other laundries and were surprised by both the amount of plastic used across the industry and the high temperatures and damaging chemicals used in many of the processes. This meant it wasn’t always easy to find sustainable alternatives, but we overcame this challenge by doing detailed research and working with smaller companies with a sustainability focus. For example, we source our chemicals from a small company creating phosphate-free, biodegradable laundry chemicals and found a supplier for reusable garment bags. A research-driven approach is something we apply to all our processes, from understanding the lowest temperature we can wash effectively at to spot treatment of stains where possible to reduce energy usage.
We also received grants from Low Carbon Workspaces to buy an electric van and for ozone technology to reduce washing temperatures whilst disinfecting and improving laundry results. All of these changes add up to a significant impact on our carbon footprint and mean we can deliver a more sustainable service to our customers. But we aren’t stopping there, we are always looking for new ways to improve our environmental impact.
We are currently creating a research and development plan to improve our carbon footprint and lower energy usage by looking at every process in our business and across our wider supply chain. To achieve this aim, we are implementing improved measuring and data collection. While sustainable changes currently in development include beta testing of microplastic filtration, air pump heating, and LED PIR lighting installation along with improved insulation and the purchase of new washers and dryers to increase efficiency and improve data collection.
In the future, we hope to investigate and implement water reclamation and filtering for re-use, to improve our understanding of scope three emissions, and to offset unavoidable emissions while we wait on technology or cash flow to catch up and deliver better solutions.
We’re also pleased to be home to two Warre natural beehives on-site and are supporting a member of staff to become a qualified beekeeper. These hives give a lower honey yield but are more supportive to the local ecosystem and honeybees.
The journey to becoming a sustainable business never stops, but we are proud of the steps we have taken so far and the recognition we have received. Spotless Garments won the Buckinghamshire Business First Awards for Customer Service and Low Carbon Workspace practices. We have also been made a showcase study by the Low Carbon Workspace team for Buckinghamshire.
Doing something is better than doing nothing –
Read and research extensively but don't become paralyzed into inaction by data overload. Remember, no business or individual is too small to make a difference. We are all accountable and have the power to contribute to both the problem and solution.
Make data-based changes with a clear plan –
Don't rely on what others tell you as your business will be very specific. Have detailed plans built on accurate data – business plans, staffing plans, development and growth plans – because without a plan, how will you know where you are heading or when you get there? It’s also important to make clear decisions, follow them through for a specific time, and then evaluate their success.
Reach out for help –
We have found https://zerocarbonbusiness.uk to be a great tool for getting to grips with what net-zero really means and how to take your business there step by tiny step. You should also follow the South East Midlands Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) and Buckinghamshire Business First websites if you are in the regions they cover – find similar local groups if not. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is also very helpful, and you can get free business banking as a member!
Look at tax benefits and government grants –
Talk to your accountant about potential tax benefits for a research and development project. The government is helping small businesses in a variety of ways and, though not all are grants, it’s worth keeping an eye on the .gov grants page to see what is available in your area.
Our Metrics –
• We are currently developing a research and development project to measure, record, and calculate all aspects and areas of energy usage and to identify which of our processes we could improve.
• Tracking energy usage per minute of steam generator operation alongside how many minutes of operation is required per kilo of ironing/finishing. We are tracking time taken using different techniques to complete different types of laundry, such as bedding or shirts, to facilitate training in the most efficient techniques and measuring the resultant savings in energy.
• New machines (on order) will track water, chemical, and power usage for each cycle and log totals.
Read more: www.spotlessgarments.co.uk