Discovering Sustainable and Practical Tool Hire and Plant Hire Opportunities

Several right answers

22 December 2021

Several right answers

Christmas comes but once a year and a story in the national media about an entrepreneurial business supplying living pine trees for Yuletide, and then taking them back to replant for future years, triggered a debate about the relative eco-friendly merits of real and artificial trees. 

And the discussion has general relevance for those debating different ways of introducing more sustainable ways of doing business. 

On the one hand a real 6.5m tree requires 4,000 litres of water over seven years, can ultimately be recycled as wood chippings or burnt and has a 4kg annual carbon footprint, according to the Carbon Trust organisation. 

The alternative of a similar artificial tree has a 40kg carbon footprint taking account of manufacture, the supply chain, raw materials and delivery. However, if kept for seven years, the outcomes are similar. 

So which is the more eco-friendly solution? 

The answer is that they both could be. It depends on how which one would fit into the specific carbon footprint calculations of an organisation or individual. 

Rather than trying to strive towards the very greenest solution in a particular instance, it’s perhaps more important to focus on lowering your overall footprint. If you measure the current situation, set goals to make reductions and achieve them, that’s great; if you exceed them that’s a welcome bonus towards future improvements.

Greg Chant-Hall, founder of the Square Gain sustainability consultancy, agrees saying: “Moving your business to being more sustainable, and to lower carbon is not a one-size fits all. It should be based on an understanding of the impact of the company's activities on the environment (the baseline), and on the areas of carbon intensity, which can create the best opportunities for improvement.”  

So either a real or artificial tree could be an appropriate solution depending on individual circumstances, in the same way that there may be more than one answer in sourcing the energy to power equipment, whether that be solar, battery, wind, hydrogen, clean diesel or – more likely – a combination of approaches. 

● For more of the latest Site-Eco stories click here


I am constantly adding new content. If you subscribe FREE using the form below, I'll send you my weekly bulletin summarising the latest hire industry stories - and I'll also send you a PDF of 10 fascinating interviews with national and independent hirers, giving their views about business and their secrets of success!