blog Image for Putting the Brakes on the Great Acceleration

Putting the Brakes on the Great Acceleration

In our last blog, we covered the Environmental Bill which sets the scene for the future framework as outlined by law. But how exactly did the environment become such an important topic? Let’s take a look at what triggered the sustainability conversation and what it means.

The Trigger 

The Great Acceleration is a period in history where industrialisation and globalisation (or more simply, ‘progress’) sees the increased use of natural resources at a rapid rate to meet consumer demand. This growth has had its consequences, with the environment being one of the largest impacted. 

It began with the Industrial Revolution of the 1700s, which marked the beginning of a series of advancements to the economy and technology which would alter the shape of society for the next 250-years.  WWF depicts the change in the relationship between humans and the Earth along with its impact during this period in a short informational video:

The Detail

These advances, which can be seen in agricultural techniques, mass production, fossil fuel usage, global communication, urban population and transport innovations, have contributed directly to the changing face of Earth’s geology and ecosystems. The changes illuminate the true scale of the human imprint and have a direct affect on land, oceans, coastal zones and atmospheres. To give context to the degree of our environmental impact, you can reflect on the Earth’s increasing levels of carbon dioxide concentration. Changes to the environment at these increased levels are evidenced in the rise of human-driven change with the present concentration being reached 100 times faster than at any other time during the previous 420,000 years. 

The Great Acceleration uses a set of Socio-economic and Earth system trends from 1750 to 2000 to assess the extent of environmental impact and change.  We can see the unmistakable increase in system pressures correspond with trends like energy use and paper production, indicating that ‘progress’ is not slowing down.

So, what can be done at a global level?  

In response to this, a group of prominent scientists have established a set of nine planetary boundaries (see link below) which should not be breached if humanity is to continue to thrive. The scientists claim that any failure to adhere to these boundaries could bring about environmental changes which are impossible to reverse, and as such we must be mindful not to push the limits of these margins to the point of no return. The boundaries apply to the following areas:

  • Climate Change: Change in weather patterns through the release of CO2 and greenhouse gasses
  • Novel Entities: Introduction of matter into the environment by humans that could have disruptive effects on the earth system (a big one for our industry!)
  • Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: The decrease of the protective layer around the planet
  • Atmospheric Aerosol Loading: Impact that aerosols have on the environment such as cloud formation
  • Ocean Acidification: pH increase in oceans caused by CO2 increase which affects marine life
  • Biochemical Flows: Pollution caused by the production of fertiliser
  • Freshwater Use: The amount of freshwater (drinking water) being used
  • Land-System Change: Changes to land coverage as a consequence of human use
  • Biosphere Integrity: Extinction of species.

It is important to note that global changes do not happen on their own. They are triggered by interacting stresses which cause a threshold to be crossed and a rapid change in state to occur. In order to manage the impact of our socio-eco trends and in turn slow the rapid progress of the Great Acceleration, we must respect and adhere to the limits of planetary boundaries by relating them to our own lives and practices … and that is where we all step in. 

What are we doing?

Now that we are clear on the reasons why change has to come, here at The Pen Warehouse we feel that we need to start altering some aspects of the way we do business. This will include decreasing our use of critical resources such as fossil fuels and finding renewable ways of fueling our lives and enterprises. To see a change, we must be the change.

We have started this change internally and invite you to next week’s content where we will walk you through key developments, discuss how they came about and what it means for the environment.  Follow our EcoSense series to find out more about the steps we are taking towards a shared sustainable future. 

Extra reading

Check out some interesting literature on the subject:

blog Image for Environmental Bill Marks Big Changes for Business Operations and Sustainability

Environmental Bill Marks Big Changes for Business Operations and Sustainability

The 15th October 2019 marks a pivotal shift in the Government’s efforts towards tackling climate change. In what is perhaps the most direct approach to date, officials have drafted and submitted an Environmental Bill to Parliament. Its purpose is to protect our country’s natural landscapes and overcome the most pressing environmental issues of our time. The Bill was presented for first reading in the House of Lords and must proceed through several readings before it can be ratified into law. 

The Environmental Bill will act to ensure our eco-considerations are being met and maintained as Brexit and our eventual departure from the EU draws nearer. It will set standards for England with the intention of other countries following suit, implementing environmental initiatives which will have both immediate and long-lasting benefits. 

Once in place, the measures outlined in the Bill will be legally-binding and will hold governmental bodies accountable for their actions, prompting a collective effort towards zero net emissions by 2050. 

The incentives of the Environmental Bill will be upheld by a new public body known as the Office for Environmental Protection, who will ensure that the Government and all relevant parties are aligning their practices with the policies.

The Bill, which applies to the whole of England, will use targets to improve air quality, restore biodiversity, transform waste management and protect water resources to create a sustainable infrastructure for the benefit of future generations.  

Another key focus of the proposal is to tackle the detrimental effects of disposable plastics by bringing in various charges to dissuade people from their use. This notion is inspired by the 2015 plastic bag charge, which has since seen plastic bag use cut by a staggering 90% since the initiative came into practice. 

It’s no secret that undoing the damage caused by generations of poor practice will require not only monumental effort, but also mutual effort. As such, the proposed legislation set out by the Environmental Bill will inevitably trickle down to affect smaller organisations, allowing the country to examine and improve their carbon footprint in a holistic fashion. 

As a company, our environmental impact is a pressing consideration and we are actively reviewing our operations and product offerings with this in mind.  Being ISO 14001 accredited and FSC registered means we are required to operate to the highest standard, however, developments with the environment certainly make us more aware of improvements needed and we will continue to evolve in this area.

We believe that the challenges facing our environment are much more than creating a competitive advantage and we have no intention of going down that road. In order to tackle these issues head-on, our industry needs to work together to reduce our collective CO₂ footprint and impact on the environment. For that reason, we will be disclosing the measures we are taking so all Suppliers and Distributors can be inspired. In return, we welcome ideas for change from all players in our industry so that we can make effective change together.

Please join us for our new series #EcoSense each Wednesday, where we will navigate sustainability in a practical and safe way to benefit our industry and the environment. 

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Investments to The Pen Warehouse

The Pen Warehouse’s new, cutting-edge warehouse space continues to progress with exciting momentum.   

Thanks to significant investments, the space has now been fitted with state-of-the-art racking to allow for increased stock and product lines to meet the demands of our ever-growing client base. The warehouse has also been fitted with sophisticated guide-by-wire stock pickers to effectively reduce errors and increase stock picking capabilities while promoting a safe working environment for our staff.  

The warehouse will be in operation 24-hours a day and will be used solely for hand-picked stock and work in progress. With its meticulous design and attention to detail, the new space will ensure the smooth and speedy transfer of bulk stock to working stock ready for the next phase of production.

Supplemented by a second pallet warehousing facility, the new warehouse unit will span a massive 45,000 sq ft and will effectively aid our methodical, reliable and swift response to meeting customer needs.