FIS Chemicals Ltd is a small chemical company located in rural Aberdeen. It designs, formulates, manufactures and supplies specialised cleaning and maintenance chemicals for use worldwide.
The company’s ethos is that everyone has responsibility to ensure environmental good practice. They adhere to a principal of selling products manufactured to the strictest environmental regulations, even where the laws of the country they are selling in to are not as stringent, sometimes at the expense of profit.
FIS Chemical’s commitment to sustainability was recognised by the Northern Star Awards in 2009 and the Chemical Industry Association for Green Chemical Development. In 2011, the company was reaccredited with the Carbon Trust Standard and is the only chemical company in Scotland to hold the standard, and was also awarded the Royal Warrant to Her Majesty the Queen.
The VIBES judges were highly impressed by FIS Chemical’s innovative ‘Aqueous Degreaser Super Concentrate’ (a rigwash) degreasing product, which has been awarded the European Ecolabel (Europe’s official environmental label). One thousand litres of this product can be used on offshore rig-cleaning compared with other products that require 10,000 litres, reducing transport costs by 90%. Other significant benefits for both the business and its customers are in terms of reducing hazardous chemical use, reducing environmental impacts from offshore oil rig cleaning and minimising packaging waste.
Owing to the success of the product, FIS Chemicals have moved their new product development focus away from increasing their existing range to developing new concentrate products and innovative methods of use. The company has benefited from increased orders as a result of their improved environmental performance, which the VIBES judges thought highly impressive. Environmental excellence is driving the business to adapt and diversify, which demonstrates how the business has reorganised around an environmentally friendly product. The VIBES panel found this to be incredibly forward-thinking and highly innovative.
The solid commitment of FIS Chemicals to reduce its environmental impact is also reflected by their heavy investment in renewable energy. A rise in electricity usage in 2008 prompted the installation of an 11kw turbine in October 2009, as well as 41 solar photovoltaic panels. Renewable electricity produced on site provides more than 25% of the company’s needs. Units generated out with the company’s operating hours are sold back to the grid.
On site, a range of recycling, waste and energy initiatives have been implemented which are audited through the company’s environmental management system and its Carbon Trust standard. From these strategies, 800kg of waste was diverted from landfill and 2 tonnes of extra material was recycled in 2010 compared with 2008. Through increased efficiency (reduced packaging, reuse of containers, recycling of paper, wood, printer cartridges, metal, cardboard and plastic), manufacturing costs have decreased, allowing them to hold their prices at 2008 levels.
FIS further reduced its environmental impact by planting 40 metres of native hawthorn hedging, shrubs, and red and white currant bushes to preserve the green belt and green space area in which they are located. Also, waste water is collected through an interceptor, checked for pH variance and pumped to tanks at the top of the site and released through a natural filtration system before entering the local watercourse.
The VIBES judges were happy to find that FIS Chemicals are open to sharing their experiences and good practices out with their own company, including sharing with other businesses, the local agricultural college and the general public through presenting at seminars and hosting site visits.
Overall, VIBES found FIS Chemicals to be an impressive company who manage their environmental responsibilities very well, go well beyond the minimum required of them, value their staff and opinions, and share their experiences openly to the value of others. They also impressed the panel with their holistic approach to their business impacts, reorganising and adapting their business to ensure that they have taken account of environmental issues. They are a highly driven company that clearly demonstrate how innovation can produce environmental and economic benefits.