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How to win a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development

Nikwax has won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development! We’re amongst just 13 companies across the country this year to have received an award in this environmental category, so we’re immensely proud of all our hard work that led to this achievement.

We make every effort to minimise our impact on the environment and people’s health, and this Queen’s Award has been achieved through our demonstration of sustainable practices over the past five years.

Here are a few of the things we’ve been doing to help contribute towards a greener future:

Restricted chemicals policy

In our fight against the harmful chemicals used by other brands in the waterproofing of outdoor gear, all Nikwax products are WaterBased, solvent free, non-flammable and do not use aerosols. And, did you know, we’re the only aftercare company in the world never to have used fluorocarbons (PFCs), as these hazardous chemicals persist in the environment and can have serious health implications for humans.

Our products have consistently been shown to outperform the competition, demonstrating that solvents and harmful chemicals are simply not required.

We go over and above the current legal restrictions on chemical use and publish a list on our website of the chemicals we prohibit.

Waste recycling

Our waste reduction programme has seen the amount of waste we recycle go from 16% in 2006 to 71% in 2013! We have a target this year of 80%.

Renewable energy generation

We continually strive to increase our renewable energy generation and in 2011 we installed a 7.7 kwh solar panel system to our main office unit. During the summer months this provides that building’s entire electrical usage. We also harvest rainwater from our manufacturing plants roof space to use in the production of some of our products.

Carbon off-setting

Nikwax is carbon-balanced through the World Land Trust (WLT). We’ve been calculating our primary carbon dioxide emissions since 2007 and every year since then we’ve offset those emissions, plus an estimated figure for pre-2007. So far, we’ve contributed around £50,000 to carbon-balanced WLT projects and that has supported the purchase and protection of several threatened habitats across the world.

In addition to a donation to cover our carbon footprint, we make a matching donation for use in the WLT’s most urgent appeals.

European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA)

Nikwax founder, Nick Brown, is Vice President of the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA). As part of this Nick campaigns for environmental responsibility and best practice within the industry, by supporting conservation funds, raising awareness of climate change and challenging the continued use of hazardous chemicals.

Work in the community

We like to support our local community where possible, giving lessons in schools on science and sustainable business and recently donated £3,000 to a nearby primary school to enable them to build an outdoor science classroom.

We also offer grants to environmental projects in the UK and abroad.

Live reporting of our corporate social responsibility

We don’t like to hide anything, so we post reports on our website each month that include figures for our energy use, packaging and carbon output, dating back to 2009.

Achieving a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development is testament to both our superiority in environmentally-friendly waterproofing technology and its commitment to delivering sustainable business practices. But it doesn’t end there! We have a goal to become waste and landfill free in five years and plan to further develop our rainwater harvesting to encompass a larger percentage of produced materials.

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Nikwax has today received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development. The award is the UK’s highest accolade for business success and celebrates the consistent development of products and approaches to management that are commercially successful and have major benefits for the environment, society and British economy.

If you’ve ever noticed your coat soaking up water in a rainstorm and you feel cold and clammy, you’re a potential Nikwax customer. Nikwax manufactures water-based waterproofing solutions that revive the waterproofing performance of outdoor clothing such as rain jackets and walking boots. Our products offer an easy way of restoring the performance of your rain jacket in a washing machine at home, by running a normal cycle and using Nikwax TX.Direct in place of washing powder.

In contrast to industry norm, Nikwax is the only established water proofing aftercare business in the world never to have used aerosols or perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). The whole Nikwax range is non-flammable and is free of the harmful raw materials commonly used in the waterproofing of outdoor clothing.

We have always identified environmental and social responsibility as a priority. From the company’s inception in 1977, Nikwax has been driven by the passion and commitment of founder and current Managing Director, Nick Brown, to protect our outdoor surroundings.

Nick said: “We must stop to think about the fuel we burn to arrive at our walk, the energy and materials consumed in the clothing used to protect us from the elements and the wear on the pathway.  We may be destroying the very hills that we care so much about. Restoring the waterproofing of your outdoor clothing is in itself a sustainable act; using far less energy and money than replacing equipment.”

You CAN lead with green

Nikwax has a stringent restricted chemicals policy that prohibits the use of flammable and aromatic solvents and potentially persistent materials – chemicals widely used by other companies producing water repellent treatments. We have continuously campaigned against the use of PFCs, knowing that these chemicals persist in the environment, can bioaccumulate and are linked to serious negative health impacts. PFCs have been linked to serious negative health impacts such as damage to the immune systems of children, compromised female fertility and an increased incidence of cancer. For more information on this please see our environmental pages here.

For over 35 years Nikwax has been developing alternative waterproofing solutions, and our products – such as market leading TX.Direct – have consistently been shown to outperform the competition, both practically and commercially. Nick’s determination to avoid aerosols could have posed a risk to the business at a time when going green was against the grain, but the challenge to produce innovative solutions has allowed Nikwax to constantly sit at the forefront of waterproofing technology.

To deliver sustainable processes, Nikwax harvests rainwater for use in the manufacture of our core products, has invested in a solar generation system that virtually provides the entire electrical usage of its main office unit, and is carbon balanced though the World Land Trust, matching all offsetting donations with an annual donation to preserve standing rainforest. Our waste reduction initiative has seen the company’s proportion of waste recycled go from 16% in 2006 to 71% in 2013, with a target this year of 80% and a five year goal to become waste and landfill free.

This award is testament to our continued commitment to sustainable development over many years, but for us it doesn’t stop there.

Nick said: “Taking the ethical route rather than the easy-money road is a difficult decision for some, but the minimising our environmental impact was always the way for me. I feel immense pride when I see our product on the high street and know they are going some way to preserving the environment around us – it’s a win for the customer and conservation.  The Queen’s Award is a great endorsement that says, yes, you’re doing alright, keep going”.


Photo: Nick Brown, Nikwax Managing Director