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How much difference can a stationery company really make?

November 22, 2021 | Posted by Amy

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How much difference can a stationery company really make? How Red-Inc have revolutionised Irwin Mitchell’s office supplies services.

Headline figures;

  • 2019/2020 – 47.97 tonnes of CO2e saved by consolidating deliveries
  • 2020 – 13,299 cards recycled resulting in 133 acres protected, 133 trees planted and 24,771 tonnes of CO2e safely stored.
  • 2019/2020 – emissions on deliveries 43% below the industry average
  • 2019/2020 – 419,560 tonnes CO2e savings across all collaborative projects, the equivalent to 3,866,246,002 miles being driven by an average petrol car.

Red-Inc has been working with Irwin Mitchell, a national multidisciplinary law firm, since 2015. The relationship has gone from strength to strength. You might ask how much difference can a stationery company really make? So read on about how Red-Inc have revolutionised Irwin Mitchell’s office supplies services.

About Irwin Mitchell

Day-to-day Irwin Mitchell provides legal and financial advice to both individuals and businesses across the UK. But when you look under the surface they’re so much more. They’re involved in the communities where they operate and they’ve won awards for their work on diversity. They are continually seeking to reduce their environmental impact.

They’ve stepped up and taken responsibility for the impact their business activities have on the planet. And are on a continual journey to find ways to reduce their footprint. Key players on this journey are their dedicated Operations Team. They work with suppliers and contractors to ensure their operations are consistent with their own ambitions of reducing environmental impact.

Why it works so well.

It’s a relationship built on mutual respect. One where great collaborations have occurred, allowing for change to happen at every level of their business. The success of the relationship comes down to the desire for Irwin Mitchell to change. This, alongside the bold and tenacious nature of Red-Inc coming in as an underdog who hasn’t been afraid to make radical changes to the status quo.

In the spirit of collaboration and learning Irwin Mitchell invited Adam Huttly, Founder of Red-Inc, to talk at their annual conference. He spoke to employees about how to reduce their environmental impact at home as well as what Red-Inc do and why it works. It was a true endorsement of our strong relationship with Irwin Mitchell.

Change is never easy, especially in an organisation with upwards of 3,000 employees. Some of the biggest changes were also some of the hardest for Red-Inc to make, as we tried to undo years of office supplies, industry-wide, wasteful practices. Including the systemic desire for next day delivery of stationery.

What Irwin Mitchell say

“To say the last 18months have been challenging would definitely be an understatement. But with suppliers like Red-Inc taking their share of the burden we have been able to continue with business as usual and evolve the work we do in relation to protecting our planet. Red-Inc have taken the supplier relationship so much further and really opened our eyes to new ways of thinking and operating. They’re not afraid to present us with alternative ways of operating, especially when it comes to making changes that can benefit the planet. They understand what’s important to us and with superior levels of service, implement changes seamlessly and professionally.”
Sarah Ball, Director of Operations, Irwin Mitchell LLP.

Red-Inc’s proposition to all businesses is a commitment to provide 100% order fulfilment. Also to consolidated orders and have dedicated delivery days. We showed Irwin Mitchell how our proposed changes would save staff time. Reduce delivery miles, reduce congestion in cities and reduce wastage. Irwin Mitchell have embraced these changes as they understand that removing daily ordering of stationery isn’t just the ‘in thing to do’. It has a massive knock-on effect for their business operations, environmental impact and scope 3 emissions.

By consolidating deliveries in 2019/20 Irwin Mitchell’s stationery orders resulted in emissions that were 43% below the industry standard. (Figures taken from Red-Inc’s Emission Reduction Report for Irwin Mitchell). That’s a saving of over 48 international flights from London to New York.

Total delivery emissions 43% below the industry standard – 2019/20


Christmas card recycling scheme.

2021 will be the third year of our joint Christmas card recycling scheme where our charity, The Red-Inc Foundation, matched the contribution made by Irwin Mitchell. For every 200 cards collected, together, we protect an acre of threatened rainforest in Peru as well as planting a tree in the Caledonian forest in Scotland. In 2020 that led to 133 acres protected, 133 trees planted resulting in 24,771 tonnes of CO2e being safely stored. Not bad for a bit of recycling!

Proving the power of their community spirit, a third of all cards collected in 2020 came from the firm’s Sheffield office, when they opened up the scheme to the local community.

Other festive changes in 2020 included donating money that would otherwise have been spent on Christmas trees, to more worthwhile causes. Irwin Mitchell asked us how they could better use the money. We offered our support in making the donations to planting trees in cities, and Scotland as well as protecting rainforest acreage.

Changing cultures

It’s not just about the services we offer and our ability to support our clients in their carbon reduction journeys, but the products we sell. We’ve helped move Irwin Mitchell from virgin to some recycled paper. On seeing the statistics they realised that their use of virgin paper was totally unsustainable. Paper is often only sold in terms of cost. They’d never been shown the overall impact of what they were buying. It’s about so much more than cost. It’s about the impact of paper in terms of carbon, the number of trees cut down along with the volumes of water and chemicals used in the production process.

To persuade our discerning customers to move from virgin paper, we have to provide the best quality recycled paper possible. That’s why we use Recycled Steinbeis Evolution White Paper. The recycled paper that we believe is the best in the market.

Sustainability at the heart of everything

For us it’s about putting sustainability at the heart of everything we do, so when it comes to supplying products to our customers we provide them with the best quality and most sustainable products possible. That can be pens and paper made from recycled content, supplying office equipment from closer countries of origin – reducing transportation miles, through to making sure they’re using products that can be recycled and reused, again and again.

We start any new relationship with our clients by making sure their top purchased products are as green as possible, suggesting alternatives that will benefit them and the environment.

We were inspired by Irwin Mitchell and their attitude to their staff during lockdown in 2020. When the whole of the UK came to a standstill, they continued to care for their clients and staff. Every member of staff was given a workplace assessment in their homes, as well as being allocated a budget to kit-out their home offices to suite their individual needs. For us that meant adapting from sending deliveries to 15 offices to delivering to individual homes across the UK. Anything from general office stationery through to chairs and laptop risers. As a small business we were able to adapt and rise to the challenge, making it all possible.

The Legal Sustainability Alliance

Irwin Mitchell is a founding member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance (LSA) a collaborative movement of law firms and the Law Society, which sees the firm make a commitment to measure and publish their carbon footprint.

Red-Inc are delighted call a variety of major law firms our clients, as well as being proud of being the LSA’s preferred stationery supplier. We attribute this to our sustainable excellence and the superior level of service we provide all of our clients.

All of the changes we’ve talked about might seem minor in the grand scale of a large organisation, but they have all added up to make significant impact reductions for Irwin Mitchell and we can do the same for you. In 2019/2020, for Irwin Mitchell that meant CO2e savings of 419,560 tonnes across all our collaborative projects. That’s the equivalent of fuelling approximately 185,446 homes for a whole year.

For Red-Inc, it all comes down to providing you, our clients, with superior service levels, the ability to optimise your green credentials, reduce your impact – particularly around the tough to tackle, scope 3 emissions.

Contact us

We can help you with all of that. If you would like to find out how we can help you make these changes drop us a line or give us a call on 01903 257000.