As temperatures soared to record breaking highs across the UK earlier this month, few could avoid thoughts of climate change and its impact. EPC-UK, in conjunction with the EPC Groupe, is currently undertaking its’ full review and strategy supporting ‘The Road to Net Zero’; a programme designed to address steps to make road transport cleaner and deliver upon the Government’s industrial strategy. 

Climate targets

At present, we are prioritising our plans to achieve EPC-UK’s carbon reducing targets, in line with the internationally recognised standards for carbon neutrality, (PAS 2060, SBTi or B Corp) with a possible view in the long term to achieving ISO 14064 (or the soon expected standard ISO 14068). Our strategy will be delivered in line with the EPC Groupe strategy – a key management objective in 2022 and beyond.  

I am pleased to say the EPC-UK team are motivated to upskill their competencies in this area and will be in a good position to embed the required protocols into our business in line with the other key internationally recognised business standards that we have achieved. 

Supply and price update

Worryingly, there is still no end in sight regarding the conflict in the Ukraine and the possibility of energy rationing is beginning to be seriously considered across Europe.  

Whilst operations have now resumed at reduced capacity, the suspension of Nord Stream 1’s operations in providing gas supplies to Germany has added to the brevity of the situation. Within this context, I have been reassured by several key suppliers, that gas supply suspension to our major European partners will not hinder access to materials; however, it will create additional price sensitivity. The local commercial team will continue to update customers regarding these challenges. 

An additional fallout from the Ukraine crisis affecting the commercial explosives sector is our now reduced access to raw materials, and in particular TNT (Trinitrotoluene), which is used in the production of commercial boosters and is a mixture of either virgin, or recycled material derived from military sources. 

Negotiating solutions

Our negotiations to ensure product availability and continuity of supply are being prioritised. However, due to the ongoing conflict, an impact will be felt on the prices of finished boosters towards the end of quarter three of 2022 and into 2023. Furthermore, continued high fuel prices are increasing logistics costs across our business, affecting the price of our raw materials, finished goods, and overall service.  I am sure that all our customers’ businesses are experiencing similar challenges, both here in the UK and internationally. By collaborating in our company SPIRIT of teamwork and innovation, we hope to maintain the sustainability of our mutual businesses and together, navigate the challenges faced. 

Developing industry leadership

In more positive news, I am as ever proud of my capable and hardworking team. In terms of learning and progression, I was pleased recently to lead the first session of our Supervisor to Manager Development Programme, where I share my experiences and expectations surrounding mindset, culture and skills. The return to ‘face to face’ in the classroom created a sense of motivation not only for me personally, but also for our course attendees, as together we build our business capabilities in person once more.

Team achievements

I am delighted too with the recent attainments of two highly valued EPC-UK employees, both of whom have received awards from different stages of their careers. This month’s Onsite details the Institute of Quarrying’s praise, and promotion to Technical Director, achieved by our own industry authority, Dr. Rob Farnfield; whilst SHEAQ Advisor, Dom Bailey, who joined EPC-UK as an apprentice, has now qualified with a First-Class Honours Chemical Engineering degree, achieved whilst in post.  Such marked successes from two different ends of the career spectrum are highly impressive and I offer my sincere congratulations to both Rob and Dom.

Continuing the message of what we can achieve as a team, I once again thank in advance all the competitors and colleagues who plan to join us at the annual EPC-UK Charity Golf Day on Thursday 8th September. We hope to raise more money this year for the EPC-UK Defibrillator fund raising cause, as we have attracted a record-breaking number of players this time around, and we anticipate a great day’s play ahead. 

All the very best. 

Ben Williams
Managing Director, EPC-UK