Austin Hayes Group save 2,500 trees through sustainable initiative with Defence General Munitions Packaging Team

A recycling initiative between specialist coatings firm, Austin Hayes and Defence General Munitions Packaging Team, that saw the removal of surplus packaging materials, has saved 2,500 trees. Since January, 250 tonnes of wood have been removed from the DGM stocks held at an MOD Storage Depot near Carlisle and used to create office furniture, in a move described as “pivotal” to what is a growing sustainable partnership.

The operation was spearheaded by a seven-strong team of project leaders from Austin Hayes who worked in close collaboration with Andy Brice, Recycling Project Team Lead at DGM.

“The challenge for the DGM Project Team was that they had large piles of returned stocks at the MOD Depot near Carlisle. This was because surplus packaging materials had built up over a number of years.” said Director for Austin Hayes, Steve Graves.

“Originally, surplus materials were sent to landfill or burnt. We put our heads together, under the DGM project team’s lead, to determine if there was a more sustainable approach. Through teamwork and attention to detail we achieved some incredible results, as well as adhere to the stringent compliance standards in place”  he added.

General Manager, for Austin Hayes, Nick Eagleton estimates that the number of trees saved is the equivalent of 10 hectares or 24.7 acres.

“To put things in perspective, this is roughly equivalent to just less than one third of the size of Abbey Wood, the MOD HQ, in Bristol or approximately 16 football pitches.”

The latter stages of the process saw the 250 tonnes of surplus wood turned into MDF and transformed into office furniture. This introduced another long-standing business partner of the Austin Hayes Group.

“One of our long-standing business partners offered the most sustainable approach. This route meant they did not have to cut down trees. They took the surplus wood, turned it into MDF timber and used it to create the office furniture.

“Being proactive to make our operations more sustainable is a key part of our vision. Austin Hayes are currently developing waste recycling streams in other areas. It is initiatives like this, that are pivotal and present a huge opportunity as the company evolves” commented Nick.

Mr Richard Goodbrand, Packaging Operations Manager, Army Light, MOD Abbey Wood commented “This is genuinely a good news story, when there are so many negative stories relating to disposal. I’m extremely proud of the considerable efforts made.”

It is not just operations that have changed; “One of the biggest shifts has been the change in company culture.

“Sustainable initiatives require a change in corporate ethos. It is this shift in thinking that has happened at Austin Hayes. The initiative has provided a measurable impact on the wider team. We have not only changed the way we think about our processes, technologies and business models, but our mind-set has changed” reports Nick.

Austin Hayes, Environmental & Sustainability Specialist, Michelle Marks, adds “One of the greatest benefits from this project is the noticeable, positive change in the behaviours, cultures and wellbeing throughout the business, from people responding proudly to the acknowledgement of doing the right thing”.

“We’re excited to see what other positive changes we can make, both now and in the future” concludes Steve.


  • Austin Hayes – Environmental Team (from left to right)
  • Jamie Wood – Leadership Team Supervisor – ILM
  • Tonia Parris – Technical Specialist – BSc (Hons)
  • Anthony Preston – Leadership Team Supervisor – ILM
  • Michelle Marks – Environmental & Sustainability Specialist – MICIM AIEMA
  • Nick Eagleton – General Manager – BSc (Hons) Technology and Management Engineering
  • Clive Cuthbertson – Safety & Environmental Systems Specialist – CMIOSH MIIRSM OSHCR
  • Surplus packaging materials
  • Abbey Wood, MOD HQ, Bristol
  • Recycling pyramid to demonstrate impact of sustainable initiatives