Taking stock of Midstream’s sustainability journey

Just a few weeks ago, all of us here at Midstream were excited to learn that we had made it to the final round of the 2022 Lloyds Bank British Excellence Awards. Shortlisted in the Sustainable Business of the Year category against some truly excellent competition, we’re looking forward to seeing how we fare when the winners are announced on 8th November.

In light of that news, and with headlines about potential energy shortages continuing to gather, it felt like a good time to reflect on Midstream’s approach to sustainability. More specifically, it felt like a great opportunity to explore why it is that we believe an environment-first approach to business is now the only way forwards.

Looking back to go forward

Let’s rewind a little. Midstream has been in business for a little over a decade, having been founded in 2009. That’s not the longest time, particularly in an industry where some players have 30 or 40-plus years of history behind them. But what it does mean is that we can say with complete confidence that environmental responsibility has been at the core of our business since day one.

Starting with the very first luminaire we designed, one key principle has defined all of our products since: maximum performance at minimal cost to the environment. The choice to use LEDs within our systems has played a huge role in that, but so too have elements like our custom heatsinks and tailor-made optics, components that can have a huge impact on efficiency and durability.

What we’ve seen as a result is that, when a customer switches to Midstream luminaires, they typically reduce their energy consumption by around 50%. That’s just an average, of course, and some reductions are naturally a little lower. But at the other end of the spectrum, we’ve also seen some before and after comparisons that have shown savings in the region of 80%.

This has a demonstrable onward impact on carbon emissions of our customers. As a provider to the sports, aviation, maritime and horticulture sectors (amongst others), our customers tend to share two characteristics: they need a lot of light to achieve their tasks, and they need to keep the lights running for most of the night. A 50% energy saving in those terms is considerable.

As proud as we are of those results, we’re always thinking about how we can improve our products even further. One concept we’re currently pursuing – and that we’ll look forward to sharing more information on at the right time – would see smart meters integrated directly into our solution, enabling users to monitor and manage their energy use on a real-time basis.

Commitment behind the scenes

Our products are only one part of Midstream’s sustainability story, albeit a hugely important one. Behind the scenes, though, we’re equally dedicated to doing everything we can to minimise and mitigate the impact of our own activities.

Seven years ago, for instance, we adopted the Environmental management system known as ISO 14001:2015. This ISO standard focuses specifically on environmental performance, and represents a standing commitment to continuous improvement. We are third-party audited meaning that we need to show clear proof of progress on an annual basis.

One area in which you can see that in full effect is in our approach to recycling. Over the past decade, we’ve worked tirelessly to find suppliers that share our viewpoint on environmental responsibility. The result is that all of the packaging that comes with Midstream luminaires is now fully recyclable. We also offer a complementary recycling service for old lighting fixtures as part of any retrofit installation, too. That means our customers can participate in the concept of circular economy when choosing Midstream as their partner for lighting.

While the ISO 14001 serves as a constant guiderail for our sustainability activities, it’s not the only commitment we’ve made.

Just last year, we became one of the first 200 companies in the world to sign The Climate Pledge, a joint initiative from Amazon and Global Optimism. By signing the Pledge, a company is making a public promise to reach net zero by 2040, some 10 years before the Paris Agreement stipulates. And, ambitious as it may sound, we’d like to get there even faster if we can.

That’s why we’ve spent a good deal of time in the past few years measuring the impact of every aspect of our operation – reducing it where we can, and offsetting it where we can’t. We’ve eliminated all non-essential travel, cut energy consumption across all our premises, and are now proactively offsetting carbon emissions where it’s impossible to remove them entirely.

Next stop is our supply chain – a bigger challenge for sure, but one in which we’re already making significant strides towards change. As a part of our customers’ supply chain, we know the actions we take have a real impact on their business and performance.

Collaboration and community

If anything above makes it sound like we’ve got sustainability all sewn up, it’s worth noting that the position we’re in today is the result of years and years of hard work – not just from our executive team, but from every member of the company both past and present. We couldn’t be where we are today without them, not to mention our amazing network of partners and suppliers.

Of all the things we’ve learned on our sustainability journey so far, that might well be the most important: you can’t do this alone.

True environmental responsibility isn’t a tick-box exercise, something that you can build processes around and hope for the best. From the people you hire to the partnerships you build, sustainability is a community effort – one that demands a shared belief and a collective vision that, together, we can do better for the world around us.

That is why it is a journey we share with our customers and partner, because together we are better, we are brighter and we are stronger.

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