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While China, India and numerous other countries I could mention continue to belch out pollution on a grand scale, we on these shores are being taxed in various, and sometimes rather devious, ways to encourage us to focus attention on our ‘green credentials’.

Assorted political zealots both, in the UK and Europe, have been banging on about how businesses, in particular, should become cleaner. Most of us are familiar with the requirement to declare our environmental policies when tendering for business with large or official organisations, so it is, surely, not unreasonable to hope that such prospective clients will, themselves, be pro-active in ensuring they have a low carbon footprint and consider that fact more closely when choosing their suppliers.

However - surprise, surprise, it seems that nowhere within the monolithic and over-staffed structures of some organisations has it occurred to the management mandarins to instruct their underlings to consider their own green footprint. The estate and maintenance departments of many of our largest educational institutions, in company with a great number of national contractors, will happily order the machines they require from suppliers that are based many miles away, when a local hire company would have been able to fulfil the same order, at the same hire rate. The transport charge would obviously have been lower, because of the shorter distances involved, and the environmental cost would have been reduced through decreased emissions and less pollution.

A slightly irritated hireman I spoke to recently told me that he had lost an order for an excavator, although his rate was the same as the successful supplier, who had travelled 50 miles to deliver the machine, when he was based only a mile away from the site.

To make matters worse, the item of kit supplied was at least five years old, and was smoking very nicely thank-you every time the hydraulics were placed under any kind of load. Indeed, after two days of use, it needed the attention of a mobile fitter - who quickly declared that the machine in question should be swapped.


Wasted journeys and loss of production time arising out of situations like this will, of course, never show up on any audit of the client’s environmental impact. Not only do we need a level playing field on green issues, but it also seems that, at a ‘micro’ level, many trees in the form of excessive paper are being sacrificed by large organisations, in order to tell all and sundry that they have good green credentials, when in reality they don’t give a hoot.

Perhaps we should point out to prospective punters that, if they really do care about their carbon footprint, then they should support their local hire companies. Clogging up our roads with delivery vehicles travelling many miles and consuming fuel, carrying kit that several local hirers could supply just as easily, and perhaps more efficiently, is obviously undesirable.

Rather than just going through the paperwork exercise, and ticking the rows of environmental boxes to show what good green fellows they are, it surely needs a good dose of pro-active management in many of these large organisations to ensure environmental issues are being taken seriously, and that genuinely efficient solutions are adopted. And using local suppliers is a sure way of reducing their carbon footprint.

It was interesting to see that, at the recent Executive Hire Show, there were an increasing number of all-electric or hybrid machines being targeted at our industry, including compaction plates and, at least, one mini excavator. Those hire companies who are brave enough to be at the forefront of investing in this kind of new technology deserve the support of end users who claim to be eco-friendly.

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