Sustainability Leaders: David Osborne, Roman

Design Insider is delighted to bring you a new series of Sustainability Leader Q&A’s, celebrating the achievements within our industry by following the tireless journey to reaching carbon zero. Kicking off the 2022 series is Roman CEO, David Osborne, who discusses Roman’s recent accreditation’s and how they were attained. 

[Find Roman on BCFA Product Finder]

Please could you introduce yourself and Roman?

I am David Osborne, CEO of Roman. Roman is based in County Durham on a 400,000 square foot manufacturing site and we supply showering products all over the world including shower enclosures; bath screens; wetroom systems; solid surface anti-slip shower trays; and solid surface fabrication of basins, vanity units and bathroom structures; with case goods and furniture integrated into our designs. Everything we do is made in Britain and we have a significant focus on hospitality design both in the UK and across all our International markets.

Why was it important for you to set out to achieve carbon neutral manufacturing?

We have been working on our environmental credentials for well over ten years and we understand how important the environmental agenda is within the international hotel group sector. In fact, many of the new designs and brands that we are working on have environmental objectives firmly at the core. The main hotel groups already crave such environmentally positive data on materials and it is becoming almost a pre-requisite to be able to work closely with them from a design stage.

What did you put in place in order to reach carbon neutral accreditation?

We have been accredited to ISO-14001 since 2009 however we recognised an opportunity to enhance our existing sustainability accreditations with PAS 2060:2014 (Specification for the demonstration of carbon neutrality) and we have now officially achieved carbon neutral certification from the Carbon Trust. The thorough process permeates all levels of activity from Roman’s 400,000 square feet manufacturing site in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, with a huge focus on energy and water in addition to emissions from employee’s commuting, business travel and the treatment of waste generated in own operations.

When did you achieve accreditation and who was the accreditor?

We teamed up with the Carbon Trust, an international climate change and sustainability consultancy with over 20 years of experience in accelerating the low carbon transition. Our carbon neutral certification took just over six months and the Carbon Trust undertook an extremely detailed audit of all of our operations and functions across our 400,000 sq. ft manufacturing site in Newton Aycliffe. Data was required from 2019 onwards and we then had to show continuous improvement in performance – and set targets for the future. We used ClimateCare’s Standard portfolio of offsets which focus on high quality offsets that comply with PAS 2060 and completed the process in November 2021. We are required to repeat the same process every year to ensure we are genuinely carbon neutral – with our claim backed up by third-party certification.

What does this mean to you as a UK manufacturer?

As the leading British manufacturer within our sector we have always tried to lead in terms of compliance to all industry standards – but more recently climate change has shot up our agenda and we feel compelled to demonstrate leadership and highlight that change is possible. We are well aware that there is still a great deal of ignorance around climate change – and also some cynicism around some rather dubious “greenwash” schemes which gives a company some kind of environmental claim, but in effect does nothing. From a consumer or a business point of view you can no longer ignore climate change.

Congratulations on your recent award win, could you tell us more? (BMA Circular Economy Award)

We embed circular economy principles throughout our supply chain which is entirely focused upon levels of recycling before and after the life of a product. Our company wide emphasis on recycling has also led to many initiatives within the business to eliminate single use plastics within day-to-day operations. Circularity is crucial to our business in so many ways – perhaps most obviously around material selection – and we were honoured to win the ‘Circular Economy Award’ at the Bathroom Manufacturers Association’s first ever Sustainability Awards held in London. Great recognition from our peers.

Can you talk us through your approach to circular manufacturing?

Our aluminium is 100% recycled before we use it and at end of life it is extremely easy to recycle and re-use aluminium back at its original value. Likewise, all of our packaging is manufactured from corrugated cardboard – last year we returned over 600,000 square metres of cardboard from building sites around the UK back to ourselves for further tangible recycling. When such products are at end of life they can be re-ground and used back in the original mix. This principle of re-use is fundamental to all of our manufacturing and we are led to believe that future Carbon Taxes will be based around measurement of recycled content and end of life recyclability.

Why have you chosen to ensure that you are addressing the impact of your manufacturing on the environment in this way?

Roman has long been a Made in Britain member and advocate, and I sit on the Board. Sustainability is not only the duty of British manufacturers but also an ongoing commercial advantage that must be embraced. COP26 highlighted the environmental impact of elongated supply chains and the world’s over reliance on China must and will change. Carbon taxes relating to the Circular Economy and Carbon Footprinting will be emerging shortly and these will accelerate change across the UK economy. Ultimately legislation changes behaviour and measurements of circularity with the possibility of carbon footprints being used by the government to change material usage – primarily to eliminate landfill.

What should we expect to see from Roman in regards to your sustainable approach during 2022?

2021 has been a huge year for us in terms of sustainability and it only marks the start of our journey to becoming net zero in the near future. Environmental credentials are already of huge commercial importance in the international hotel sphere – and increasing relevance to housebuilders and retail as they become more engaged and educated in environmental matters. Whilst the majority of people have accepted that climate change now exists, it is now clear that action, not words, is needed in all sectors.

Contact Roman through BCFA Product Finder.

The BCFA Product Finder is a unique search engine created especially for interior designers to source contract furnishing companies. Utilising this platform will support your findings for upcoming projects, with over 200 members profiles showcasing the latest product launches, new materials available, industry news and design trends.


About Phoebe Train

Phoebe is a Marketing and Events Executive, who joined the BCFA as an English graduate in 2021. Working closely with designers and BCFA members, Phoebe has published an array of content for Design Insider.
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