Date: 01/04/2019
Author: Hills Panel Products
Company: Hills Panel Products

Furniture industry doors, boards and fittings supplier Hill’s Panel Products (HPP) is playing a key role in environmental sustainability legacy projects linked to a national business awards event being held for the first time in Greater Manchester.

Oldham-based HPP is a Sustainability sponsor for the 2019 KBB Review Retail & Design Awards at Victoria Warehouse, Old Trafford, on April 4.

The national awards celebrate the best retailers, designers and manufacturers in the UK kitchen and bathroom industry. They are linked to the UK’s leading kitchen and bedroom trade magazine, KBB Review, and are the sector’s longest-running and most prestigious awards. This year marks the event’s 25th anniversary.

Organisers want to make sustainability a key theme for industry representatives travelling to the awards from across the UK. So, they have calculated the carbon footprint of the event, including associated travel of attendees from across the UK, and designed sustainability projects in Greater Manchester, Africa and India to off-set the carbon footprint.

  • In Greater Manchester, 70 young trees from the community-backed Hulme Garden Centre in inner Manchester will be planted in the Royal Horticultural Society’s new 154-acre Garden Bridgewater development in Salford. Furthermore, other young trees will be donated to Greater Manchester primary school garden and education activities.
  • In Africa, communities in Uganda will be helped to identify and repair broken boreholes to provide safe water supplies and vastly reduce the need to boil water before drinking.
  • In India, a sustainability scheme will replace traditional domestic cooking stoves with cleaner, greener stoves. Currently 75 per cent of domestic stoves in India are fuelled by burning wood and agricultural waste. 

Hill’s Panel Products (HPP), based in Oldham and Sheffield, currently has over 2,000 UK trade customers and 200 staff across its sites. It manufactures its own-brand products including Avanti doors, Glide sliding doors, and Aspect and Aspire kitchens and bedrooms. It also supplies products by other UK and European brands.  It currently offers 6,000 products which cover full and processed MFC (melamine faced chipboard) sheet material, vinyl-wrapped furniture doors and associated furniture fittings.

Earlier this year, HPP opened a new £3 million production line to increase output of its bespoke vinyl-wrapped doors from 30,000 to 45,000 per month in the short term.  In the longer term, it can increase manufacturing to 50,000 per month or more.

Speaking about supporting the awards and sustainability projects, HPP managing director Keith Wardrope (pictured) said: “We look forward to welcoming guests to the KBB Review Retail & Design Awards at Victoria Warehouse. It will be great to celebrate the many excellent businesses in the KBB sector and highlight these important sustainability projects in Greater Manchester, Africa and India.

“HPP believes we all have individual and corporate responsibilities to take measures to support sustainability.  We live in this word as ‘caretakers’ and it’s up to us to act responsibly with its natural resources.

“At HPP’s Oldham manufacturing and office spaces, sustainability actions have included factory heat-recycling in key manufacturing processes, installation of solar panels and bio-mass heat generation, better waste-sorting and recycling, increased use of recyclable packing, greener back-office practises and the adoption of LED lighting across the business.

“We seriously started working on our sustainability issues about eight years ago and our bio-mass generation facilities were featured on a corporate video in 2011. That symbolised the changes we were making and the seriousness of our commitment.

“Our door-packaging systems previously used protective polystyrene on door corners for a long time. However, we replaced that with recycled cardboard corners and now use plastic which is recyclable. This was another important change.

“Today, most of our waste is recyclable including MFC and MDF board, metal sundries, cardboard, clear polythene and plastic strapping. We changed the way we deal with waste throughout the business, from manufacturing to offices, which included changing all the bins to have clear waste instructions for specific materials.

“Good sustainability practises also create business benefits, such as repairing faults in manufacturing equipment and optimising machines to cut any waste energy inefficiencies

He added: “Good communication and workplace awareness is essential on sustainability issues. At HPP, we’ve had strong support from the company’s management in making changes. We’ve then communicated those ideas to staff and educated them, to change their formal working practices and also informal habits to improve sustainability.

“Beyond HPP, the wider furniture and timber products industry is also making good progress and raising awareness of sustainability issues. Overall, our message is that the whole KBB industry chain, from raw material suppliers and manufacturers to distributors, wholesalers, showrooms and installers, should embrace sustainability measures which, combined, will make a significant contribution.”

The KBB Review Retail & Design Awards sustainability partners are Hill’s Panel Products (HPP) Kaldewei and Used Kitchen Exchange.