A UK success story – The SME sector, Sustainability & a Printer Manufacturer.

First some sustainability headline data prefacing our interview with Glenn Kershaw of the UK company, DSales;

74 % of European SMEs have already started to look into the topic of sustainability (Baker Tilly/TU Dortmund, 2017)

80% rate the integration of sustainability into the company strategy as being important, however half lack the resources to act (Accenture for UN Global Compact, 2016)

In early July 2019 Global Impact conducted an interview with Glenn Kershaw, the Marketing Manager for DSales, the UK distributor for the Develop copy/print hardware & software ranges. The company is focused on supplying UK SME’s via a national network of service & support partners and, with a unique sustainability offering, has experienced nothing less than double-digit growth since 2015.

And, if you want proof that embedding sustainability into your business model can be a driver for growth and profit while differentiating your business from the competition around you, you need look no further than DSales. In a crowded copier/printer market dominated by Ricoh, HP and a clutch of well-known brands, Develop’s strong niche position, galvanised by its sustainable focus, wins hearts as well as sales while evolving into one the most eminently trustable brands.

For his part, Glenn is a gritty, no-nonsense Englishman from “the North” with a love for Burnley FC (his home-town football club) and a desire to see the business’s sustainability actions recognised. When we talked his points were punchy, uncompromising & a revelation.

Sustainability & the SME

Glenn was at his bluntest when commenting on sustainability & the SME sector. “In a nutshell, the problem for all-but the largest businesses is the absence of help and support for the SME sustainability journey.”

He went on. “Let me explain. In a 2016 UN survey, 80% of European SME businesses wanted “sustainability” embedded in their plans but ½ of these businesses did not know how to go about delivering these aspirations. From where we sit, little has changed.”

“With all respect to Global Impact, who help many SME businesses deliver remarkable sustainability results, practical support for sustainability for SMEs is still lacking.”

Glenn warmed to his theme. “DSales & Develop can’t deliver “sustainability” for all but we can play our part. We do this by focusing on what we can do for our customer’s sustainability profile; it’s at the heart of who we are and what we do.”

Reducing Energy Consumption in the Office

We opened up by discussing Develop’s number 1 sustainability target. The reply was direct. “Energy, energy, energy ……….”, followed by, “ENERGY!”

Glenn explained that Develop’s parent company, Konica Minolta, have for years committed huge resources to dramatically reducing the amount of energy needed to power their equipment (while themselves becoming Carbon Neutral in 2018). He then highlighted the stark reality of printing and energy consumption and his company’s response.

“60% of the energy consumed by your typical copier or printer occurs when toner is being fixed onto the paper, so that’s where we focused our attention. A Develop device utilises polymerised toners with plant-derived ingredients to fix images onto the page at a much lower temperature. That might not seem earth-shattering in itself but the result is typically a 40% reduction in energy usage compared to conventional toners.”

“Additionally, and remarkably, Develop’s new range gives a further 20% reduction in energy consumption from our own previous range – That benefits; a) the environment & b) our customer’s profitability.”

“And that’s sustainability in action.” He concluded. “Positive outcomes for profit & the planet!”

We then turned to key target number 2.

Packaging – A Key Sustainability Battleground

“50% was our packaging reduction target for the new “Sparrow” range. We missed it by a whisker but the new range of devices, being launched now, will deliver 48% less packaging.” Glenn beamed. “48%!!!!! That’s sustainability intentions put into sustainable action & I’m proud of it; it’s good for my kids, my planet, our partners & the businesses who use our equipment because, ultimately, it affects everyone’s bottom-line.”

Warmed by his subject Glenn then turned to key target number 3.

Toner Cartridge Re-cycling/Re-use. A Life-Time Guarantee.

Copiers & printers generate a number of core used parts that can be re-used, re-purposed, up-cycled or re-cycled. In August 2019 DSales will introduce a return system for all equipment users by managing what has previously been classified as “waste”.

Glenn expanded on this key sustainability project. “This has been an issue to us for ages and one we were determined to address. The scheme has been 12 months in the making but the “big-day” is now only a month away.”

Glenn warmed to his subject. “From day 1 of this ground-breaking DSales project, all WEEE regulated toner cartridges, imaging units and the like can and should be returned to us via our national partner network. At the end of a fully audited system our compliance partner will then process every item returned and issue waste & recycling certificates for customer compliance purposes.”

“We have geared-up the system to deal with tons of sustainably re-used/re-purposed electronic ‘waste’ and in the process, the SME’s using our product raise their sustainability profile in line with the desire of the majority of businesses desperately wanting to do more. I call that a result!”.

We finished by returning to the point where we began  – SME businesses and sustainability. Glenn had this to say, which mirrors everything we at Global Impact know to be true. “Sustainability is an obligation resting on all our shoulders but without big CSR departments, smaller businesses struggle to grasp what they can achieve.”

“At Develop we enhance our equipment user’s sustainability profile in any way we can and hopefully that can inspire them to begin or ramp-up their efforts. And that’s how the planet’s issues will get fixed, one tiny step at a time. In that sense this sustainability thing is gloriously simple.”

Cheers Glenn.