Vinuovo and the environment
What does Vinuovo do for the environment?
Well, the truth is that we pollute...
Just like everyone else.
But I do not think that is an excuse!
Everyone should and MUST contribute,
I also want my company to contribute to the best possible future of our planet.
We cannot control everything, but there are still many things that we can contribute to.
Do you wish to know how?
Do you wish to know how the products you buy from us affect nature, the environment and the rest of the world?
Then please, read this page, you might also learn a few things you haven't thought about before ;-)
Together for a better world, you, me and our suppliers!
Director/owner Vinuovo SASU
And why would I want to do something about the environment then?
OK, I'll be honest, I'm quite opinionated and I think everyone has the right to make their own choices in life.
These choices affect our planet, the climate, our society or the people close to us.
When you make a choice, it has consequences. I think we should also think and take responsibility for the consequences of our own choices.
Some people might think; " you're pretty hypocritical Vincent, but you are driving an old Volvo on diesel!".
True, that is my choice. My old Volvo has already driven nearly 400,000km and so contributed quite a bit to CO² emissions. But a new car every 2 years has, in my opinion, much higher CO² emissions. After all, that new car has to be produced, which takes a lot of energy, consumes a lot of precious raw materials and generates a lot more waste that has to be processed. Meanwhile, my Volvo has lasted for almost 20 years and is far from entering the landfill for the time being.
And I didn't choose children, for example.... that saves a lot of CO2 emissions! (If you have 2 children, you've already doubled your carbon footprint...).
Other people choose lots of air travel, have 10 children, the air conditioning always on and in winter they "fire up the cabin" at 24 degrees.... Your life, your choice as far as I'm concerned.
Yet we can also choose to limit our impact on the world and the climate in other areas....
I'll start with my least favourite subject: legislation!
(In my opinion, often nonsensical, political, government interference).
With us in France, the "loi-AGEC" has been in force since 1 January 2023.
What does this law mean in a nutshell?
- All your purchases are taxed with an ecotax.
(only on delivery in France, so you as a foreigner don't have to worry about that ... unless your government comes up with a similar regulation...)
- The amount of this tax depends on the composition of the product you buy.
Are the materials used easy to recycle? Then you pay less.
Is recycling difficult or impossible? Then you pay more.
In itself not a bad rule, this encourages us all to choose products that can be better recycled.
- The government wants consumers, to be able to return to the supplier a similar product they replace with the purchase. The supplier then becomes responsible for recycling.
I really think this is complete nonsense! This is "green politics" that has no good result on the environment whatsoever;
- It takes away your and my own responsibility as a consumer. Now you can easily claim that the supplier is responsible for your junk.
- We deliver 99% via the internet, the customer is not in our neighbourhood. (No, that doesn't mean that buying over the internet is extra polluting in terms of transport.... More on that in the transport section). And you don't have to drive your car to the hardware store, which also saves pollution.
But when every customer starts sending back another parcel of waste, we all double the transport volume! (and the cost!). And you need to pack what you send back properly.... so you need packaging material; that costs you money and it also ends up back in the mountain of waste!
- Every village or town has an waste disposal site where waste can be collected and separated excellently. Every citizen and business already pays tax, or a local amount, for waste collection. So why do you have to pay another tax for waste disposal when you buy a product?
- In my view, collecting and separating waste at source, i.e. in your neighbourhood, remains the best solution. The waste can then be compacted immediately and driven in full trucks to the nearest processing plant.
- Administration: In France, 22 different organisations have been created for this legislation. Depending on the type of product, a company has to become a member of a particular organisation and declare there.
Well, we mainly sell products for the garden, so we "only" have to register with a few organisations. But with each organisation, we have to file batch returns, pay taxes. Each organisation has its own rules, so all computer systems have to be adapted. That costs a lot of money and energy, computers will run longer and thus consume power, and it is all terribly inefficient!
And why not 1 legislation for the whole of Europe? We deliver to almost all european countries.... if they all start setting up 22 organisations, there will be no end!
Have a think when you vote next time, you might want to avoid this kind of arrangement.
Which organisations is Vinuovo affiliated to?
- Ecomaison - membership number: FR324158_14JQVY
Almost all our products consist entirely of a combination of wood and steel.
Both raw materials are easy to separate and reuse.
Wood waste from our production goes neatly into the waste container for wood.
Throughout the year, I also take a lot of wood home with me, which makes the fireplace burn nicely in winter!
We hardly have any steel waste.
Yet every week there are vans at the door with tradesmen who are happy to collect it.
(For wooden pallets too, by the way, those guys drive me crazy!)
Furthermore, like everyone else, we have coloured containers to collect household waste, paper, cardboard and packaging materials separately.
Sustainable sourcing and production
Using raw materials sustainably starts with our product development.
Vinuovo designs more a more products in-house or in cooperation with our suppliers.
I am a big fan of wood and try to make almost everything with it.
The use of steel (for screws, for example) cannot always be avoided, but we can minimise it.
Below is a list of our main raw materials:
Wood is a wonderful raw material.
Not too expensive, it lasts a long time and is easy to separate and reuse.
Wood also absorbs a lot of CO² from the atmosphere as it grows. That is why it is important to preserve our forests. We should also replant as much as possible of what we have cut down over the past hundreds of years!
In Europe, we tend to point the finger at South America and Asia when it comes to cutting down primary forests...
Bit of a shame we forgot that western Europe used to be very densely forested too! We cut that down to make room for ourselves. So bit hypocritical to accuse others when they do the same.
And often those forests are not even cut down for the wood! (A great pity that hardwood got such a bad name because of that!)
In the Amazon, forests are mainly burnt down for new farmland. For soya plantations, for example... Did you know that Europe is the biggest importer of soy (after China)?
Or have you sometimes forgotten the discussions about palm oil in recent years? Beautiful primary forests in south-east Asia have disappeared as a result!
We, all of us, can influence that!
You can do that by buying FSC or PEFC certified wood.
True, not watertight systems, even here there are known cases of fraud, criminals like to mess with everything.... (including with our food for example).
Vinuovo only buys certified wood so you can be sure that you are buying wood from forests that are managed sustainably.
Besides the environmental interest, there is also a bit of self-interest in that. I would like there to still be forests where my company can buy wood in 20 years from now.
Below are the licence and certification codes of our 3 main wood suppliers.
- PLUS A/S : FSC-C028526 , certificate registration code: NC-COC-014771
- Byko-LAT : FSC-C020146 , certificate registration codes: NC-COC-016950 / NC-CW-016950
- LTL : FSC-C008558 / PEFC-01-31-24
Despite the fact that steel is very recyclable, I personally do not think it is a very sustainable product.
- Mining iron ore and other raw materials causes a lot of damage to nature worldwide.
- The production of steel requires an awful lot of energy: thick (coal-fired) blast furnaces to process the raw ore and then a lot of heat treatment in gas or electric furnaces.
- Many chemicals are used in the production processes to clean and treat the steel.
- And what about huge electric rollers and presses to give the steel its final shape?
- Recycling steel also consumes a huge amount of energy: after all, it has to be remelted and re-cast, cleaned, rolled and pressed.
- Finally, we use a lot of paint and coatings to protect the steel from rust.
However, when you don't include the "environmental price", steel is a cheap product that lasts a long time. And there is unfortunately no affordable alternative available (yet) that has the same mechanical properties.
So for the time being, we will continue to use steel when necessary. But we can minimise its use by developing our products innovatively and making them even more recyclable.
Below, I will give you a few small examples of improvements that we at Vinuovo are currently making to our collection:
- The ends of the steel tubes in our steel stair stringers were previously sealed with a plastic cap. To recycle it, those caps have to be removed to leave 100% steel. In the new steel stair stringers we will launch in 2023, these openings are welded shut with a steel plate. This makes the plastic cap unnecessary. That seems like a small difference, but it saves thousands of plastic caps every year. This makes the stringer 100% of the same material and even easier to recycle. (and I like it better too! ;-)
- Previously, we supplied our pergolas with steel corner and connecting elements. The new generation, which should be available in a month's time, no longer contains these elements. That will easily save 10 to 15 kilos of steel per per pergola.
- This year, Vinuovo hopes to invest in a new, digital woodworking machine that will allow us to make even stronger wood joints. This will allow us to reduce the use of steel even further.
Cardboard packaging from our suppliers is also reused as much as possible. So don't be surprised if you receive a box with our suppliers' branding on it.
We have also chosen not to print our packaging and scotch tape with the company name (like Amazon, for example). That may look nicer, to me it is a waste of pollutants like ink and other chemicals.
Incidentally, an occasional customer is not happy with the cardboard: we sometimes get the complaint that the cardboard was wet. That does indeed happen sometimes. Our softwood is moist when it comes out of production. Because of the high turnover rates, it does not always have time to dry before being packed.
During transport, that moisture soaks into the cardboard. Well, of course we could dry our wood in big kilns, but think how much energy that would require.... (and how expensive it would make the product ;-))
Only in exceptional cases do we use plastic film to wrap our pallets. we only do that to protect the product, especially against theft during transport.
Transport starts with our sourcing: Vinuovo tries to buy as many full trucks as possible from our suppliers at the same time, to make sure there are as many kilos as possible in that big car.
Sometimes this may mean you have to wait a little longer for a product because it is out of stock and waiting for the next delivery.
This is the only way to keep the environmental impact as low as possible.
Almost all trucks we use meet the Euro-6 standard, with the delivery of Euro-7 engines expected to come on stream from 2026.
The Euro-7 standard is currently being worked out by the european commission.
It will probably become almost impossible for manufacturers to make a diesel engine that meets these standards.
The only other option is an electric or hydrogen-powered engine.
This seems wonderful, of course, but the infrastructure is lacking to make this possible:
- The electricity grid in Europe is unable to provide enough power for all these heavy trucks
- A big truck needs loads of power... try to imagine how big and heavy those batteries would have to be! And when half the weight of a truck consists of batteries, that truck is lugging around an enormous amount of weight for nothing.... not good for the environment either!
- The weight of batteries means that a truck can load far fewer goods. So you need more trucks, so more pollution
- There are not enough raw materials worldwide to make all those batteries... (with current technology)
- Charging posts for trucks are not available. (Now there are already not enough parking spaces for trucks available along the motorway, let alone when they all have to remain stationary for much longer to recharge.
- True, many environmentalists have been calling for years that we should use trains more, but the rail network in Europe has been struggling with a capacity shortage for years. Transport by train also takes much longer. And goods have to be transhipped much more often (which also consumes energy). And most of us did not live next to a railway station.... So that van ot that big truck, it is still needed!
- The infrastructure for hydrogen is completely lacking, although in my opinion it should be the future for road transport and green energy storage ...
For transport from our warehouse to you, our customer, we almost exclusively use UPS.
Only for large products that do not fit in a van do we use general cargo networks and large trucks.
UPS is one of the largest carriers in the world with a very dense network.
You might think that delivering 1 parcel in a van is bad for the environment, but it is not that bad...
That van doesn't just drive for you! Every van leaves in the morning with a hundred parcels or more.
And the vans that, around here, are empty at the end of the day come to Vinuovo to pick up new parcels. very efficient.
From our warehouse, the vans go to the nearest UPS sorting centre in Beaune.
There, the parcels are sorted by country/region and then, at night, very large trucks take them to the next sorting centre near you.
The next morning, those parcels are sorted by city/neighbourhood/street for the vans and they come to deliver to you and your neighbours.
By the way, we choose to use UPS's standard service.
Why? Well, UPS also has a huge fleet of planes. When we ship by express, it goes on a plane, and we want to avoid that.
By the way, transport by plane would also become much more expensive for you, I don't think you are waiting for that! ;-)
UPS is one of the carriers that invests enormously in environmentally-friendly transport and is also simply one of the best, fastest and most reliable carriers in the world.
Buy local then?
I often hear people say that "buying local" is better for the environment....
Bit tiresome I think, the people who say that have completely failed to understand global supply-chain and distribution networks....
(Yes, sorry, logistics is one of my passions. I have been in logistics and transport since I was a kid of 13, am now (almost) 51...)
That local market or corner shop seems nice and efficient, but just consider the following points:
- DMost of the products you want to buy are not from your area....
(Or do you sometimes have a Mango tree in the garden? Pineapple in the front garden? Shrimps in the pond? Cheap Chinese who makes your television in the attic?)
- Everyone driving their car to the market (and not being able to park there so driving in circles to find a spot) and the old, smoking diesel van of the local farmer who comes to the market with 2 crates of strawberries and a container of "organic leeks"...
- Shops in your area are also supplied by trucks only often with much smaller volumes, so maybe not as environmentally friendly.
Global distribution networks and parcel carriers are so efficient that they often have a lower environmental impact. Delivery with a van covering dozens of houses in your neighbourhood is simply much more efficient.
(That was true 20 years ago when I ran a large European project for Philips).
Mind you, I'm not saying you shouldn't go to the market, I love doing it myself, you should keep doing it!
But I think "environmentally friendly" is not the right argument...
As a business, Vinuovo does not consume much more energy than a normal household.
Our building is not fantastically insulated, unfortunately the landlord is not very keen on investing in it....
We have taken the following measures, I think there is little else we can do:
- Our computers are of the latest generation with LED screens, you can't get much more economical.
(I suggested to the ladies to put a home trainer under the desk to generate power, but they were not very keen on that...)
- I replaced the old electric radiators in the office with heat pumps.
- We have a dining table in the office so we don't have to heat the canteen in winter.
(Unfortunately, the ladies insist on keeping the toilet heated.... maybe they spend to much time there?)
- Our warehouse has large daylight domes in the roof to minimise the use of electric lights.
- Any bulb that breaks is replaced with LED lighting.
- We have large gas heaters hanging in the warehouse and they stay off!
Even when the temperature drops below freezing in winter. Thick jumper, jacket on, gloves, our warehouse workers are die-hards!
(Working a little harder would also help ;-))
In a nutshell:
If we all use our brains, and think a little in what we do, together we can reduce man's impact on nature and the climate.
However, we are all pretty spoiled.
We would like someone else to do something, but are not eager to give up our luxuries ourselves.
The easiest way is to point at governments, or heavy industry. (When we don't buy anything, that industry won't be there either...)
Technological developments are moving fast but not fast enough.
As far as I'm concerned, there are just far too many people on earth and it's only going to get more.
But who has a solution to that?