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News and Updates

All the latest news and updates from the UK's leading supplier of safety clothing and equipment

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  • Arco Invests in Stuff4Life to Further Explore Circular Polyester Supply Chain

    30 January 2023

    Arco has further invested in polyester recycling start-up Stuff4Life to create a new joint venture company, which aims to create a circular supply chain for polyester, reducing the amount of used workwear which is sent to landfill as well as carbon emissions related to the raw materials used in their production.

    Based on Teesside, Stuff4Life Workwear is intended to support both Arco and the UK's net-zero targets and enable Stuff4Life to develop its patent-pending chemical recycling process towards full-scale commercialisation.

    The joint venture will continue to build on the relationship with Teesside University and its Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre, as well as the Centre for Process Innovation at Wilton, part of the UK Government's High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

    As a key supplier of workwear, Arco is committed to addressing the problem of products that have reached the end of their useful life, particularly garments made with polyester. Nearly 90 per cent of the 33 million workwear items supplied annually currently end up in landfill or are incinerated.

    As part of the partnership, Arco will continue to re-design its product range for longevity and circularity, taking responsibility for its ‘own-label' garments - before, during and after their useful life - and introducing end-of-life schemes for workwear, hazard wear and personal protective equipment (PPE).

    Stuff4Life Workwear's solution works by recovering the base polyester components from recycled polyester-based garments, including complex workwear and PPE.

    The recovered components can be used in place of virgin raw materials in the manufacture of new polyester which reduces the impact of manufacture, a key element in the transition to a circular economy.

    Successfully recycling polyester and establishing an onshore UK supply chain will reduce the industry's dependency on fossil fuels. It will also reduce pollution from the manufacturing process, as recycled polyester uses significantly less energy and resources compared to virgin polyester manufacture.

    Thomas Martin, Chairman of Arco, said:

    "Our sustainability strategy has a key focus on reducing our environmental impact and in helping our customers achieve their sustainability goals.

    "After previously supporting Stuff4Life with seed funding, we are delighted to announce this investment to enable the commercialisation of a workwear-focused polyester circularity business.

    "Sustainability is important in all aspects of our lives, including our jobs and we will only help the UK reach its net-zero goals by addressing every area.

    "By enabling recycled polyester to be produced on a larger scale, more companies can kit their employees out in more environmentally friendly clothing, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and decreasing our impact on the environment, whilst keeping people safe.

    "As a fifth-generation family business, we have always put corporate and social responsibility at the heart of our organisation, so were excited to work with such a forward-thinking company and improve the sustainability of the industry.

    "We know that this solution works and now is the time to scale the operation up and support the building of a circular workwear economy in the UK, ensuring we protect more people as well as the planet."

    John Twitchen, Director of Stuff4Life, comments:

    "We are really excited about the next stage of our Stuff4Life journey, continuing our work in partnership with Arco.

    "Our ultimate goal remains the same - to make new polyester products from old polyester products - but also making the next generation of workwear last even longer, perform even better and be more recyclable when its job is done.

    "This is the true value of our partnership, making a real difference throughout the design cycle and the lifecycle of products and delivering not just a circular economy for critical materials, but decarbonising industrial processes and delivering even better outcomes along the way."

    Jim Harbidge, Head of Sustainability at Arco, added:

    "The majority of Arco's carbon emissions take place in the factories that make our products and are related to the refining and manufacturing processes of products, such as polyester.

    "This project is a game-changer for Arco and its customers and gives us the chance to reduce these ‘difficult to reach' carbon emissions and recover the resources and carbon needed to re-manufacture new items.

    "This innovative project is part of Arco's carbon reduction strategy and has potential way beyond our business. Ultimately, it will help towards achieving not only our science-based carbon target but that of the UK."

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  • Arco Signs up to Defence Employer Recognition Scheme

    18 January 2023

    Arco has signed up to the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) and has secured a bronze award - the first step in the fifth-generation family business' ambition of becoming a gold award employer.

    The bronze award, which also covers Arco Professional Safety Services, was bestowed on Arco after the safety product and services business formally pledged its support for the armed forces by becoming a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant and agreeing to support existing or prospective employees who are members of the community.

    Joining the ERS, demonstrates Arco's commitment to being armed forces-friendly and being open to employing reservists, armed forces veterans (including the wounded, injured and sick), cadet instructors and military spouses/partners.

    Arco recognise the skills, expertise and dedication gained from working within the defence sector are highly transferable to key roles across the business, such as working at height and confined space instructors, fall protection engineer, and respiratory specialists, as well as roles across Arco's support functions.

    Jonathan Simmons, Talent Acquisition Manager at Arco, said:

    "As a family-business, with a core purpose of keeping people safe at work, Arco is delighted to strengthen its relationship with the armed forces community and promote the business as a great place to work to those who have served or are serving our country.

    "This award is just the start of our relationship with the ERS and forms part of a wider strategy to promote the variety of career opportunities available at Arco to as wide a pool of talent as possible."

    The ERS encompasses bronze, silver and gold awards for employer organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community, and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.

    The ERS is designed primarily to recognise private sector support although public sector organisations, such as the emergency services, local authorities, NHS trusts and executive agencies are also eligible to be recognised.

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  • Arco Welcomes New Report on Respiratory Protection and The Risks of Silica Dust

    11 January 2023

    In 2020, Arco provided testimony to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Respiratory Health and its investigation into the dangers of exposure to silica. The initial report - Silica - The Next Asbestos - published that year, cited Arco's evidence in the report findings.

    A follow up report, published, 10th January 2023, goes further in looking at risk reduction strategies that can play a key role in decreasing exposure and ill health, reducing the burden on healthcare services and helping to save lives.

    Once again, the APPG engaged with leading organisations and industry experts, who provided evidence on better prevention, revisiting key issues identified in the initial inquiry. Arco submitted evidence for the new report and has been cited in key areas of the findings.

    Arco recommended that the most effective ways of reducing exposure can be achieved by following the hierarchy of control, eliminating, substituting, isolating or introducing engineering controls to extract crystalline silica from the manufacturing and construction process. Arco also stated that dust monitoring is vital, referencing advances in technology that provide real-time exposure level monitoring. Arco believes that without real-time monitoring, it is impossible to prove that exposure levels are within the Worker Exposure Levels (WEL).

    Arco fully supports the inquiry's recommendations, particularly increasing education and awareness of the risk of exposure to silica dust through compulsory modules in construction industry apprenticeship training and further education courses and making use of the latest technology for real-time monitoring.

    Kevin Williams, Respiratory Manager at Arco, said:

    "We all know that respiratory illness can cause serious health problems, disability and even death to those exposed unnecessarily to risks, such as silica dust. We also know that these risks are often preventable and we are pleased to have contributed to the work of the APPG on Respiratory Health in this follow up report. We urge the Government to act on the findings so that we can work together with our industry partners and regulators to help reduce the risks for those working in some of our most critical industries."

    Read a copy of the report here.

    Further information on how to protect workers against silicosis can be found here.

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  • Arco Colleagues Volunteer in Support of Environmental Causes

    09 January 2023

    Colleagues from across Arco have been volunteering their time in support of several environmental projects and initiatives. As a responsible choice of safety partner, Arco gives each colleague an extra two days of paid leave every year to give back to the things that matter to them - including protecting and enhancing the natural world.

    Recently, two groups of colleagues adorned their gardening gloves and work boots to help the planet.

    Alice Marren, Learning and Development Partner, was joined by colleagues Andy Hirst, Katie Train, Tracey Jackson, Emma Willison and Liz Farr for a day of tree planting at the PATT Foundation (Plant-A-Tree-Today) Centre in Hull.

    Alice said:

    "The PATT Foundation is an incredible environmental conservation organisation that is on a mission to save the planet, one tree at a time. They are relatively new to the Hull area, meaning the site they currently occupy is needing quite a bit of work to try and get it running more efficiently. We were delighted to be able to help and get to know one another better in the process."

    The PATT Foundation not only plants trees, but also educates communities on sustainable forestry and the environment.

    Steven Summerscales, Regional Sales Manager, and the Yorkshire and East Midlands Sales Team, also decided to help the organisation by planting some saplings.

    Steven said:

    "We chose to volunteer with them as it was a wonderful opportunity to support their 'One Hull of a Forest' scheme. We were able to plant over 1,000 saplings throughout the day which will now be safe inside greenhouses until their final planting next year."

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  • Arco Improves Sustainability Rating to Achieve 'Gold Medal'

    03 January 2023

    Arco has been awarded a gold medal by EcoVadis, the world's largest and most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings.

    The gold award sees Arco improve on the silver rating it has held in previous years, with the fifth-generation family business improving its scores in areas like the environment, by improving energy performance reporting and setting of carbon reduction targets, as well as labor and human rights and sustainable procurement.

    The gold rating puts Arco in the top 5% of the 100,000 plus rated companies assessed by EcoVadis. In addition, Arco was also recognised as an industry leader, overall, by making the top 2% of companies rated by EcoVadis in its industry sector, as well as in the areas of sustainable procurement (top 1%) and environment (top 2%).

    Jim Harbidge, Head of Sustainability at Arco, said:

    "As a responsible choice of safety partner, Arco is very proud to have secured a gold medal from EcoVadis and that our efforts to continuously improve in sustainability and ethical performance have been recognised.

    "As a business, we are always striving to be the best at what we do, to lead in our industry and in the family business sector.

    "We will continue to take steps to achieve our ambition of being a platinum-rated business in the future, including increasing our alignment to external standards and accreditations, such setting science-based targets, and further improving our reporting to stakeholders."

    The EcoVadis methodology framework assesses companies' policies and actions as well as their published reporting related to the environment, labor and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement.

    Its team of international sustainability experts analyse and cross check companies' data (supporting documents, 360° Watch Findings, etc.) in order to create reliable ratings, taking into account each company's industry, size and geographic location.

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