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Carbon reduction


Financial savings

Based in Oldham, Greater Manchester, QPSL produces polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and aluminium products for the construction industry, including flooring, insulated building products, window and door components, and bespoke extruded PVC solutions.

As a manufacturer, QPSL has long been aware of its impact on the planet and has maintained a comprehensive environmental management system (certified to the ISO 14001 standard) since 2013.

The business has also been working with specialist sustainability advisors since 2012 to improve energy efficiency, minimise waste and reduce carbon emissions.

“Solar is a no-brainer”

The wide variety of measures taken to reduce energy consumption over the past decade range from upgraded compressors and chillers to LED lighting and improved process controls. As a result, the amount of power required to process one tonne of QPSL’s PVC product reduced by 15 per cent between 2013 and 2021.  

The next improvement on the to-do list for 2022 was a refurbished roof and solar PV array to generate clean electricity on-site, providing protection from rapidly rising energy costs in the process.

QPSL engaged the services of Green Economy member Perfect Sense Energy (PSE) to design and install a 558kW solar system after visiting a fellow manufacturer nearby that had also worked with PSE to add solar to its roof. “Increased energy costs have started to hit us badly,” says Product Manager, Dr. Diane Luther. “We first looked into installing solar in 2018, but at the time it was a payback of about 6 years. It’s a no-brainer now.”

“QPSL’s solar panels will pay for themselves in 3-4 years – generating an estimated 495,000kWh of clean power in year one. That equates to an energy saving of around £146,000 and carbon savings of around 118 tonnes.

“This may sound like a big installation – it’s 1,469 panels, covering nearly 2,500m2 of roof space – but given the massive growth in the solar industry it’s now around the average size of system we’re installing.”

Kyle Swindells Perfect Sense Energy

Carbon reduction roadmap

During 2022, QPSL took steps to formalise its carbon reduction objectives and reporting process, having benefitted the Low Carbon Skills: Journey to Net Zero programme which is fully-funded for residents based in Greater Manchester.

Although the business already had a head-start due to its successful environmental management system, JTNZ helped to widen the scope of its reporting and accumulate everything into one ‘carbon tracking’ file.

“Journey to Net Zero was good because it explained what activities you have to track, under which scope of emissions, and what is actually relevant to your business,” Diane comments.

Attending the online workshops with a range of other businesses was also a valuable experience, Diane adds: “Hearing from other manufacturers who have similar struggles is obviously useful. But even hearing from people from very different situations was insightful – a small office in Manchester city centre has to take a very different approach to net zero than us, for example. It was really good to get that broad spectrum and understand how net zero affects businesses differently.”

Solar Install QPSL Perfect Sense Aeriel Image

Solar Panel installation on the QPSL site
Source: Perfect Sense Energy

“Customers have started asking questions”

QPSL has now created a formal carbon reduction roadmap that breaks down its net zero ambitions, with measurable targets for 2025 through to 2050. Planned actions include moving to lower carbon logistics, switching to 100 per cent renewable energy, engaging with employees and sourcing more sustainably, such as prioritising suppliers that have a clear net zero statement.

The roadmap is already helping with stakeholder engagement and responding to customer requests, Diane explains: “We have an external paper that we can provide to stakeholders, and an internal paper with assigned responsibilities, so we can be held accountable if we don’t reach those goals.

“In the last year some of our larger customers have started asking questions like whether we have a sustainability statement and what plans we have in place for carbon reduction. We already had all the answers they were looking for, which is a nice confirmation that we are doing all the right things.”

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