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BaxterStorey: Our sustainability journey

Published: 2 Aug 2019

Henry Cawson, Sustainability Manager at hospitality provider Baxterstorey, reveals how the company is improving its sustainability practices by transitioning to ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Certification‎.

BaxterStorey, the UK’s largest independent hospitality provider for business and industry, has a commitment to using fresh, locally sourced products. This commitment stems from an inherent belief that not only do we deliver a high-quality food service, but we also help to sustain the local supply chain, reduce energy usage and minimise transport impacts.

I work within the sustainability team, alongside our Head of Sustainable Business Mike Hanson and fellow Sustainability Manager Alex Ghinea. We support our restaurants in their sustainability practices, assessing areas including energy use in the kitchen; from equipment usage and efficiencies, packaging, and waste streams. 

Understanding the environmental impacts, we introduce programmes and procedures aimed at reducing these impacts based on likelihood and severity of risk. One example might be recommending a variable speed control on a kitchen extraction unit, which would save the client a large amount of energy per annum.

Our sustainability practices have been fully embraced by our teams, and we report weekly on our food waste across all 900 sites within the business. Our collective efforts to reduce our food waste by 42 per cent, led to us being awarded EDIE Sustainable Business of the Year 2018 Award and recognised in the Best Waste Management Project category at the 2018 FootPrint Waste2Zero Awards.

A PESTLE analysis helped to identify risks affecting our company, both environmentally and socially.

In 2007, BaxterStorey became the first UK independent food service business to operate an ISO 14001 certified environmental management system (EMS) for its entire support function. 

This certified EMS provides us with a framework to review all aspects and impact of environmental best practice across our UK operations. We also review applicable legislation and other requirements; including geographic or client specific requirements to ensure full compliance.


In 2018, I managed our transition from the 2004 to 2015 standard. The main change in the standard was a move to a High-Level Structure (HLS), the new common framework for Management Systems Standards (MSS). The 2015 standard introduces a new section on leadership and enhanced requirements around ‘Protecting the Environment’, ‘Lifecycle Perspective’ as well as a commitment to ‘Continual Improvement throughout the system’. 

This also introduced a new enhanced emphasis on risk-based thinking. To prepare for this transition I shadowed several ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 Energy Management audits, as well as attending courses and webinars on the transition and system.

The first step was to ensure we met the enhanced leadership standard requiring board level approval. Having a board that is engaged and understands the value in sustainable practices is essential for driving change throughout the rest of the business. The leadership team are your biggest allies when it comes to implementing new quality standards.

Identifying risks

A PESTLE analysis helped to identify risks affecting our company, both environmentally and socially, allowing me to complete the new enhanced risk register, and identify all ‘interested parties’ (eg. clients, staff, neighbours) that the system requires to be considered.

This method of analysis allowed identification of 24 internal or external interested parties, and outline all the risks, opportunities, needs and expectations – that the system must account for. With the new clause stating that the whole ISO standard must consider these parties, whether this be in Planning, Communication or Leadership, each clause was updated with the enhanced requirements of the new risk-based standard.

These enhanced requirements were the biggest challenge, as alongside ‘interested parties’ we also had to consider top management commitment and involvement. In addition, we had a commitment to lifecycle analysis and continual improvement. 

Ensuring that all areas of the enhanced requirement were adhered to was a large undertaking. In clause 4.4Establish and Maintain an Environmental management system,a flow chart helped to show how the whole system interrelates and includes these new requirements.

It helps to think of the system as a narrative story, where the underlying themes expressed are considering the environmental impact and the continual improvement of the system. By following this approach, you can ensure that every clause encapsulates all the enhanced requirements that the new HLS structure requires. 

Quality management will always be important to BaxterStorey as a way of ensuring our continual improvement. Our health and safety team recently moved from BS OHSAS 18001– Occupational Health and Safety to ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety, and we are also looking to transition from ISO 50001:2011 Energy management to ISO 50001:2018.

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