The Helping Hand Company’s declared mission to rid the world of litter has been rewarded with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for international trade after growing its export business by 750% in six years.
The manufacturer of litter clearance tools, which says it supplies more than 90% of local authorities and waste contractors in the UK, now exports its litter collection hand tools and environmental educational support services to over 20 countries worldwide.
The Herefordshire-based business, which sells its professional waste collection tools through its HH Environmental division, has defied the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, more than doubling its overseas sales from £450k to £986k between 2016 and 2017 alone.
HH Environmental says it has built large customer bases in France, Holland, Denmark, Belgium and Ireland and is developing distribution channels in Australia, Germany and Spain.
The company works with local authorities, community groups and charities and commercial partners keen to boost their CSR activity, in the UK and beyond.
Labelling itself as a ‘litter consultancy’, HH Environmental provides the tools and promotional material needed for organisations to launch their own litter picks and anti-litter campaigns.
It works with dozens of campaigning bodies in the UK including Keep Britain Tidy, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Keep Wales Tidy, and has taken a similar approach in Europe in the last five years, developing partnerships with clean up action organisations such as Nederland Schoon in Holland, Limburg.net and Mooimakers.be in Belgium.
HH Environmental has worked with 346,012 litter pick volunteers in the first three months of this year alone.
The company also designs and manufactures bespoke clean-up solutions for unique problems such as a Belgium waste management contractor that is looking for a way to segregate litter as it is collected along the highways to increase recycling rates.
Lara Bryant, VP sales and marketing at The Helping Hand Company, said: “Our mission is to get rid of all the world’s litter – which would mean we’d have no business, but it’s what we want.
“We support organisations and individuals in tackling litter scattered on pavements, carparks, greenspaces, beaches, rivers and motorways – we need to turn the tide.
“By recycling just 50% of all litter thrown on our streets today, we could save £14.8million pounds every year or £40,547 a day.
“We have seen a big increase in people getting actively involved in clean-ups and much greater awareness since that amazing Blue Planet series just over a year ago.
“It has had an astonishing impact.”
HH Environmental’s recent expansion has been supported by the recruitment of an environmental export sales manager and administrator in February 2014, who together have driven the rapid growth of sales across the EU and beyond.
The company’s products are all manufactured at its base in Ledbury, Herefordshire, using sustainable materials and packaging that can be recycled wherever possible. A massive 97% of all HH Environmental’s production waste is recycled.
All the litter pick tools have been carefully designed, tested and refined over many years to ensure efficiency and durability with recycle kits which can extend the product life cycle by 300%.
“Our products are much more expensive than some of the cheaper versions made in China,” said Lara.
“But organisations choose us because they know they can rely on the quality of the products which are all made in the UK using a sustainable and ethical production model and the added value we provide as a ‘litter consultancy’ advising on funding streams for litter picks and campaigns, educational material and charity partners.”
HH Environmental has partnered with the Eco-Schools litter education scheme which has engaged 19.5 million children across 67 countries, making it the largest educational programme on the planet.
The company prides itself on successfully combining commercial enterprise with socially responsible action which facilitates environmental campaigns.
“We are an adaptable business that is not solely focused on the commercial gain of a product sale but more on a sustainable relationship with our customers. This approach makes us unique in our industry,” said Lara.
“We are committed to promoting environmental awareness today for our world tomorrow. Working alongside the Eco Schools programme and other local environmental education initiatives is a central focus for us – doing something as simple as a litter pick is a great way to engage children in learning about litter.”
The Queens Award is just the latest in a string of accolades for the HH Environmental branch of the business, including Green Apple Hero Award 2013 & 2014, CIWM Sustainability & Resources 2015, Guardian of Public Spaces 2016 and Business of the Year 2017.
Litter costs – the facts
- Taxpayers spend millions of pounds every day to help maintain clean streets. The direct cost is about £1 billion a year.
- By recycling just 50% of all litter thrown on our streets today, we could save £14.8million pounds every year, or £40,547 a day.
- Research shows that neglected streets have an adverse effect on any area, with worse crime levels reported in litter strewn neighbourhoods. The financial cost of litter to crime is estimated to cost the UK £328 million a year.
- With Landfill Tax set to rise; waste disposal sites must push to find new ways to reduce rubbish. By segregating litter at source, each council will get £25 rebate per tonne recycled.
- By 2025 65% of all waste in the UK has to be recycled – household, commercial, street collection – saving 43 million tonnes going into landfill.