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Championing the environment

Mark Hargreaves looks at how regional publisher Archant is committed to green initiatives

ARCHANT is leading the way in promoting and supporting environmental issues across its newspapers and companies.

It has introduced innovative and creative environmental projects, many led by chief executive Adrian Jeakings who firmly believes that a greener future for the company is vital. He says: ³There are a myriad of things that we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, many of which are low cost or actually save us money, but they will require us to change our behaviour as individuals and as a company.² One of the initiatives that Archant has put into place, to drive green projects across the group, is the appointment of a dedicated sustainability correspondent, a year long secondment created by Jeakings.

The correspondent, Tara Greaves, was appointed in July 2010, having previously been environment correspondent for six years at the Eastern Daily Press. She has three main roles: as an environmental journalist; as a co-ordinator of environmental projects across all Archant companies; and informing the readers of Archant¹s publications of what the company is doing to help protect the environment in their local communities.

As a journalist Greaves regularly writes across all four of Archant¹s daily newspapers, 70 weeklies, as well as the company¹s magazines and specialist publications.³Since my appointment, I¹ve probably written around 40 articles which have appeared in multiple Archant publications² she says. ³For example, I write a weekly green column which appears in three different papers and a recent feature I wrote about having a more sustainable Christmas appeared in Archant newspapers in London, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.² In addition, to ensure the green agenda is well covered across all titles, Archant has dedicated environmental correspondents writing for the Eastern Daily Press, Norwich Evening News and East Anglian Daily Times. ³I think it is really important for media groups, especially local and regional ones, to dedicate time to reporting on environmental issues,² says Greaves.

However, actions speak louder than words and she has been given a remit to engage with staff to make Archant a more sustainable company.

On her appointment as sustainability correspondent, one of the first things Greaves did was to create the Archant Green Champions group which is a network of staff spread across Archant which communicates via Facebook.

She says: ³The Green Champions is a private forum where members share ideas about making the company greener as well as looking at more general environmental issues.³Since it was formed it has attracted 40 members and is rapidly growing as the word spreads.

³One of our successes came from an idea from a member who encouraged her team to set a reminder before they left for the day to turn off their monitors. This has now been rolled out right across the group.

On its own, an initiative like this is not going to change the world but every little helps.² Additionally, Archant has been active introducing other initiatives around its centres to help lessen its impact on the environment. Staff who chose to run Œgreener¹ company cars are offered financial rewards which helps them pay their Benefit in Kind (BIK). Initially it was expected that 10 per cent of staff would take this up but so far there has been a 30 per cent participation rate. As a result, Archant is on track to cut CO2 by more than 23 per cent over the car replacement cycle to an average of less than 112g per km.

Another project has seen Archant sign a paper deal with local newsprint supplier Palm Paper. This has resulted in all of Archant¹s newsprint, some 30,000 tonnes, coming from just 50 miles down the road rather than from far flung corners of the world. The company has calculated that this has resulted in reducing its footprint by 640 tonnes annually.

Additionally it has now set up a backhauling arrangement which ensures that delivery lorries return with a full load of waste paper from Archant, and other companies, for recycling at Palm Paper, saving a further 100 tonnes of CO2.

On a lighter note, being greener does not always have to involve serious business issues as Greaves can confirm. "I got married in August 2010 and set about having the most sustainable wedding that I could," she says. "Examples of how I achieved this included my lovely dress which I bought off eBay for a mere £30; beautiful fake flowers which are now with various mums, aunts and grandmothers; guests travelled together by bus; and favour boxes were seeded so guests could grow flowers in them when they got home.

"Although I¹m sure there was much more that we could have done, we can look back at our big day and know that we did what we could to make it have less impact on the planet."

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