Sean Silvey

21 April 2011 – Leading listed services company, Spotless, has not only become serious and seriously organised about environmental sustainability, but it has charged the former head of environmental sustainability at the ANZ Banking Group, Sean Silvey, with ensuring its new co-ordinated strategy is implemented worldwide and works well.

Founded in 1946, Spotless has grown from one dry cleaning store in suburban Melbourne into a diversified multinational services company employing more than 40,000 people (staff and contractors) to deliver 125 speciality services in cleaning, catering, laundry, painting and retail (under the Braiform brand) businesses at around 2000 sites across five continents and 32 countries. It has  to more than 14,000 clients and works with 17,000-plus suppliers.

Silvey, who is general manager of environmental sustainability at Spotless and moved across from ANZ in January 2010, says the past year has been a very busy one for him and the company. He says a broad view environmental policy implemented in various degrees across each business unit was replaced with a strategic sustainability policy and plan co-ordinated from headquarters in Melbourne.

Silvey says programs have been developed that mean sustainability is part of everyday business at Spotless – programs that deliver real and tangible outcomes rather than hopeful expectations. “Pre-2010 there was activity going on, but post-2010 this activity has more structured and governed,” he explains.

“Our post-2010 strategy has overwhelming support from the board and executive management. It includes outcomes that are achievable today, in 12 months and in 18 to 24 months, and range from improved staff awareness to performance target, ISO certification and so on.”

To achieve the outcomes, Silvey works with closely with Spotless’ national property manager and a worldwide virtual team of 20. He says as the company owns and leases its properties and works with clients at their properties its sustainability strategy needs to be adaptable to these different circumstances.

“Obviously, implementing the strategy at premises that we own is easier and different to doing so at client premises,” Silvey, who reports to the general manager of human resources, says. “Here we have to work in partnership with the client.

However, this is not a problem, as most companies around the world recognise the business, productivity and staff benefits of sustainable and environmentally-friendly processes and practices.”

He says the strategy covers energy, water, safety, products and materials. For example, as Spotless’ laundry business is responsible for 64 per cent of its total energy consumption and high water usage efforts are being concentrated here to reduce usage levels and increase sustainable alternatives.

The second biggest energy user is corporate services at 21 per cent, followed by managed services at 11 per cent, food services at four per cent and cleaning services at 0.04 per cent.

Silvey says the Spotless has set a high benchmark for its existing and future laundries with the building of a $20 million greenfields site in Brisbane. The facility incorporates the latest recycling and renewable technologies for water and energy, improved staff safety practices and sustainable building materials.

“While it is not possible to replace all our laundry operations with such sites, we can retro-fit existing sites and use the new site is a benchmark,” he says.

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