How to become a sustainable manufacturing champion

Posted on 26 May 2021 by Daniel Kirmatzis

With the UK hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November, sustainable manufacturing is in the spotlight and is becoming a priority for manufacturers. Our Community recently benefitted from an informative presentation by Richard Hagan, Managing Director, Crystal Doors, on the company’s journey to net zero.

Crystal Doors were recent recipients of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of Sustainable Development. The Rochdale based company which makes vinyl-wrapped doors and components for kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, has won a number of awards for its outstanding efforts to transform the business into a green champion.

To meet Richard Hagan, a 2020 Manufacturer TOP100 winner, is to come face-to-face with a passionate manufacturer on a mission to change not only the way his company operates but also the way the industry operates. Richard started his presentation by emphasising the impact humans have had on the environment in the last 50 years. With an increase in population comes an increase in consumption and a natural corollary of that is an increase in waste. Richard is determined to lead by example and has set Crystal Doors on the path to becoming a sustainable manufacturing beacon for both Rochdale and the UK.

Richard Hagan, Managing Director, Crystal Doors, Courtesy Richard Hagan

Knowing your Carbon Footprint

Richard explained to the Community that it is important for them to know what their carbon footprint is, both personally and for their businesses, for until it is measured you don’t really know what it is you are trying to achieve in terms of reducing your footprint. In addition, it is important to get an indication of what your embodied carbon is i.e. the carbon dioxide emitted during the production of the materials you buy and including the processes that go into making your products. Crystal Doors is in the process of revolutionising the products they make and the key to this process is end-to-end digitalisation which helps to reduce waste and bring unit costs down.

“If you can measure it, you can manage it; you can reduce it; you can model it and you can change it.”


For Richard, it is important to change the business model of what a business should be vis-à-vis a climate emergency and he sees plenty of opportunities both environmentally and for Crystal Doors. Some of the steps Crystal Doors have implement in the last 5 years include the introduction of smart manufacturing technologies and energy reducing technologies such as electric vehicles and solar panels. The business also installed a biomass burner which currently produces over a million kilowatts of electricity a year and has reduced its carbon footprint by almost 80% in 5 years.

Involve your staff in your journey

Richard believes it is important to engage Crystal Doors’ employees in this journey, so instead of a top-down management approach he wanted to foster a culture where each employee becomes an equal stakeholder in the company’s sustainability transformation so they feel they are making a difference, as he told the Community, ‘our team are fully engaged into wanting to drive to something better.’ Part of this process is to identify sustainability champions within the business and to appoint a chief sustainability officer.

Richard’s advice on where to go for support to reduce your carbon footprint

  1. Compare your footprint offers a platform to upload your environmental impact data
  2. Carbon reduction for small businesses – Zero Carbon Business support here
  3. IEMA (Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment) Transition to Net Zero more info here
  4. Perfect Sense Energy – the energy reduction experts – Carbon Trust Accredited

Want to learn how to transform your business into becoming a sustainable manufacturing champion?

Join us on 17 June for our virtual Sustainable Manufacturing Symposium. Sustainable Manufacturing Symposium will be attended by a cross-section of professionals from every sector of the manufacturing industry who are responsible for leading sustainability within their organisations, coming together to share ideas and experience in an informal and interactive format. Register now here

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