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What Impact Will Climate Change Have on the Security Industry? – Part Two

26 May 2022

How can the security industry as a whole help to lower carbon emissions? 

In part two of this series on climate change and the security industry, Julie Hulme, Commercial Director at Expeditious Services, looks at seven ways the security sector can reduce carbon emissions and help the environment.

Julie has worked for Expeditious Services since 2015. Julie began working in the Facilities Management and Security industry in 1990 and has experience in a range of senior roles within security and FM. Julie is a member of ASIS and is a committee member on the IWFM Northern board and Customer Experience group. At Expeditious Services, Julie is responsible for all commercial development and relationship management, particularly within the FM sector and with end-users. 




Security Has Been Slow to Adapt to Green Thinking


Whilst the security industry isn’t a large-scale carbon-emitting sector (in comparison to others), it is the duty of those working in it to do our part in protecting the planet as much as possible. Security has been relatively slow to adopt green thinking, incorporating strategies into everyday processes and now is the time for industry-wide action. Taking a more global approach to tackling the impacts of climate change is thought to be best. Sharing of information, case studies and strategies across organisations will help collaboration across the entire supply chain with supportive buy-in.

The UN sustainable development goals touted by many organisations as being the markers of CSR success are at the risk of it becoming a check-box exercise, especially if no further efforts are being made.  Similarly, accreditations like ISO 14001 and other energy management frameworks are great to have but alone are not enough. A fully holistic approach to environmental impact needs to be considered, from ground-level up.

What else can be done by the security industry to lower carbon emissions?


1. Vehicles and Travel


Operational transport is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions within the security sector. This includes the security company fleets travelling around and between client sites, as well as the production of the vehicles themselves. Whilst many companies are upgrading their fleet to electric vehicles (EV) or hybrid vehicles, the environmental impact of producing EVs is 59 per cent higher than the production of traditional vehicles and so approximately 60,000 miles are needed to be driven before reaching an offset point.

Additional transport such as employee commutes and business travel are also big emitters. Employees could be incentivised to use public transport, bikes, or car sharing. And business travel should only be used where digital options are not suitable – our own contract management style encourages this for environmental purposes. Again, any meetings needing to be travelled to, should first investigate car sharing or public transport as first options before using a car.


"Unnecessarily stored data is estimated to use 16,000+ tonnes of carbon every year (and increasing). Years ago, it was common to see a line in an email footer to carefully think before printing, today we should be considering whether an email needs to be kept, or if it is being sent unnecessarily."


2. Technology


Technical services such as CCTV, should be sold with consideration given to the manufacturing and production processes, especially keeping in mind any upgrades which may be needed in the future. Electronic equipment should be implemented with sustainable values towards the use of these in security design. A security company should aim for as long a life-cycle as possible to reduce emissions, with clear plans for recycling or reusing when no longer needed, and an understanding of how much energy they take to run.

Physical technology – Did you know the carbon footprint from technology devices, internet use and systems supporting them account for 3.7 per cent of global emissions? This is the same as the airline industry and is expected to double by 2025. Any computers, phones or other devices should be bought with a long lifespan in mind. Instead of continually purchasing new technology, companies should first look to extending the life of current devices with updates and renewed software or hardware, or buying second hand. Recycling or donating devices after they are no longer suitable for business use helps to extend their life even further.

Cloud technology includes any online data storage, such as emails, files or photos. Planet-friendly technology isn’t just about the devices we use, but how we use them. Unnecessarily stored data is estimated to use 16,000+ tonnes of carbon every year (and increasing). Years ago, it was common to see a line in an email footer to carefully think before printing, today we should be considering whether an email needs to be kept, or if it is being sent unnecessarily.


3. Uniform


Corporate uniforms account for 15,000 tonnes of waste going to landfill or incineration every year, and only 10 per cent spared this ending by going to recycling or textile banks instead. Uniform is a key part of the role of a security officer – for safety and for creating a visible presence to deter incidents. As most uniform items are branded, any unnecessary waste and subsequent environmental damage can be easily linked back to an employer, potentially harming their reputation. Instead of cheap, mass-produced, plastic-heavy uniforms alternative options could be found which may cost more but will have a lower impact on the planet, or implementing recycling/reusing initiatives.


4. Office


It’s not just security officers on the ground who can do their part, but the teams in head offices too. Green energy providers and recycled furniture could help the building itself reduce its carbon emissions. Consumables should be judged not on price, but on their ability to be reused or recycled, cutting down on plastics, and chemical damage to water ecosystems, as well as using local suppliers to reduce transportation costs. On a more everyday level, staff could be incentivised to use a refillable water bottle and packed lunches instead of buying single-use plastics. Working with a local green waste disposable company could help a business become more aware of their plastic use and plan to reduce this.


5. Supply Chains


Taking control of supply chains with regular auditing and due diligence ensures proper procurement processes are followed. This should include checking companies part of your supply chain are also working to the same environmental values as you, holding themselves accountable and responsible for their own green promises and taking the action they profess.


6. Company Pensions


Every pound we spend or save is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. Do you want to save your money with fossil fuel investment funds, or supporting greener causes? Using ethical company pension schemes such as Nest can really make a big difference in the wider community for the future we want to have.


7. Offsetting


In every security business there is going to be elements of carbon usage that cannot fully eliminated, such as operational driving. Whilst we can do our best to reduce, the next best thing is.

Picture: a photograph of a small replica of the earth held in a child’s hands. Image Credit: Pixabay

Article written by Julie Hulme | Published 26 May 2022


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