For decades, CSG subsidiary Willacy Oil Services has been one of the leading providers of specialist oil storage cleaning services in the UK. From their Flintshire headquarters, close to the huge Stanlow oil refinery, they quickly established a reputation as reliable exponents of oil recovery and sludge stabilisation – a reputation that soon spread to many of the UK’s other refineries.
Within a few short years, their reputation spread further and by 1998, Willacy’s services were required at the Mongstat refinery in Norway. A year later, a call came from Australia to perform their services at a refinery there. With a significant proportion of their revenue starting to come from overseas clients, the company was becoming truly international.
In 2008, Willacy were asked to lend their cleaning services to the Petrotrin refinery on the island of Trinidad. Since then, work there has become a regular fixture on their calendar. Trinidad and Tobago has a long association with petrochemicals – the distinctive sound of the steelpan in calypso music was defined in part by the availability of oil drums there in the early twentieth century.
Similar in capacity to Grangemouth (at around 200,000 barrels per day), the refinery operates in one of the most oil-rich areas of the world. It surprises many to learn that, over the last seven years, neighbouring Venezuela has overtaken Saudi Arabia as the country with the highest level of ‘proven reserves’, as defined by OPEC. Clearly, it’s an important area for Willacy to prove their capability.
Petrotrin is also the only oil refinery in the world that sits next to a wildlife park, the Pointe a Pierre Wildfowl Trust. As you’d imagine, this adds a level of sensitivity, which has obvious ramifications on the way they must operate. For almost a decade, Willacy have been a key partner to helping them maintain this important balance.
Gavin Lucas, Willacy’s General Manager explains how this responsibility is fulfilled and co-ordinated, over 4,000 miles away from their head office.
“We maintain a team in Trinidad, led by Keith Walker, who has twenty years’ experience, working in the Caribbean. Just as we would do for a UK client, we build the machinery here, mostly centrifuge and de-watering systems. In their case, we then fly it out there, where it lives and is maintained.”
Over the years, the teams on both sides of the Atlantic have become as adept at remote management as they are at waste oil recovery, a task made slightly easier as communication technology has continued to shrink the world. There are still factors to consider, British workers are given regular downtime to return home and, as in many other oil hot-spots around the world, worker security is an ever-present issue.
The work at Petrotrin has always been important in its own right but additionally, it has proven Willacy’s capability to offer long-term strategic partnership in far-flung places. Similar work in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and other Middle-Eastern countries has arisen as a result.
Back at home, CSG & Willacy are currently developing their offering, spreading their talents across other sectors in the UK. You can be sure it won’t take long for them to transfer that knowledge and capability to another willing client thousands of miles away from their Sandycroft base, a service that, like the steelpan, can be traced back to its Trinidadian roots.
This time last year, Cheryl West was, like most working mums, occupied with dividing her attentions between her work, family and friends. With three school-age children and a demanding job as CSG’s Technical Waste Assessor, at our Cadishead depot, she knew all about the difficulties of maintaining a suitable work-life balance – but something was to change her perspective so significantly, it led her to do things she never thought possible.
Seven years previously, she’d struck up a friendship with Angela Sharples, another of the mums at her daughter’s school and the two soon became best friends. Unfortunately, Angela was diagnosed with cancer but after treatment, seemed to have successfully fought it off. In September 2016, she found out that it had spread to her liver. In November, Angela died.
Jolted by such a sharp reminder of mortality, the effect on Cheryl was immediate. “Angela had been a runner, was adventurous and visited places like New York and Las Vegas. I felt I had to do something like that so I bought a bike that week. I had no idea what I was going to do but I needed to do something.”
Initially, the plan was to participate with her friend, Carolyn, in the London to Brighton ride (54 miles, done in one day) but when Carolyn suggested they opted instead for London to Paris (280 miles, done over four days), Cheryl agreed. “I didn’t really give the distance much thought – I just thought they were both a long way”.
By Christmas, their place on the ride was booked and from January, Cheryl started her training with Saturday rides. “I hadn’t ridden a bike for about ten years and had never ridden a road bike before. The first time out, I did about a hundred yards and just thought ‘No’. I had no idea about where to ride so I rode around a circuit in a housing estate again and again and did about four miles. I wasn’t particularly confident.”
Despite her perseverance, Cheryl knew she was doing things the hard way and joined Breeze, a ladies-only cycling group for beginners. “I was soon doing eight-mile rides, the group was helping me and my confidence was much higher.”
As the weeks wore on, Cheryl had raised her level to participating in 16-mile rides, was introduced to the Bury Clarion Cycling Club and invited on a 30-mile ride. By March, she’d participated in a ladies’ night ride around Bury in support of Bury Hospice – a distance of 60 miles – and booked herself on a training weekend, which involved 90 miles of riding. Clearly, the cycling bug had struck.
In early June, she completed the ‘Tour de Manc’, around 64 miles: “That was hard – the first 20 miles were flat, then came the hills…”, before the time came to take on the London to Paris ride, broken into four days between June 22nd and 25th: London to Dover (followed by a ferry crossing to Calais), Calais to Abbeville, Abbeville to Beauvais and Beauvais to Paris. “I didn’t know what to expect in France. There were hills but they didn’t seem the same – they seemed easier than at home. There was some great scenery, some pretty villages, especially Beauvais, and it was amazing to ride along the Seine. Wherever we went, there was lots of support.”
And then, of course, came Paris. Like the Tour de France, the ride was to hold its closing stages along the famous Champs-Élysées, a route which involves some particularly unfriendly cobbled areas. Unlike, ‘le Tour’, Cheryl’s finish involved negotiating the traffic – and the whims of Parisian drivers – around the Arc de Triomphe. If you’ve ever driven around that part of Paris, you may find that fact alone as impressive as the achievement of cycling almost 300 miles in four days!
Having completed her mission, Cheryl is well on the way to raising £2,500 for Bolton Hospice, in memory of Angela – with CSG pleased to contribute £500 towards her target. Seemingly, she’s undergone a lifestyle transformation to achieve her goal and honour her friend. Does this mean she’ll be back to do it all again next year?
“No. The thing I learnt most from Angela is to do different things, find new experiences. When I spoke to older riders, it struck me how many stories they had to tell, how varied their experiences were. Carolyn and I only have this experience so we decided that if we do something different every year, in a few years’ time, we’ll have that level of experience. We may do another ride – we’ve looked at one in Italy but I’m not sure about all the hills! One thing we are going to do next year is kayaking in the fjords of Norway. I’ll still have my beach holidays but I’ve decided that we need to do different things as well.”
Before all that, Cheryl will be back in the saddle to do a 100-mile ride around the North West of England in September, another challenge that requires a level of training – with an unforeseen bonus: “My middle daughter, who’s a good swimmer, has become interested in cycling. If she wants to start riding, I’ll certainly be glad of another training partner!”
It’s no exaggeration to use the phrase ‘life-changing’ to describe Cheryl’s experiences of the past year. Through tragedy, she’s gained a new perspective, raised thousands for charity and given inspiration from a friend’s memory. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” sang John Lennon in ‘Beautiful Boy’, his ode to his son, Sean. In her efforts to commemorate Angela’s example, Cheryl has broken the cycle of work and home and, through her efforts, reminded us that we all need to make time to live. C’est la vie…
The great and the good of CSG gathered in a Hampshire hotel recently to celebrate another landmark occasion in the company’s long and illustrious history.
The cause for celebration was the launch of CSG’s second book, ‘The Hart of Waste’, an updated history of the company founded by Edgar ‘Bunny’ Hart in 1934. As with the previous book on CSG, ‘Waste Matters’, published in 2002, the new book was written by Nigel Watson, an accomplished writer and corporate historian.
The guests gathered at the Solent Hotel, close to CSG’s Fareham head office at the end of the day. The fact that our AGM had been held that afternoon meant that many important stakeholders could be present. One such luminary was CSG’s former Managing Director, Ken Pee, who’d flown in from his home in Cyprus for the occasion.
After a convivial drinks reception, we were invited into the function room and entered a room dressed with CSG branding, a projector and screen and, of course, a table groaning under the weight of numerous copies of the new book. Many guests filtered into the theatre seating area while others chose to stand towards the back of the room while they waited for proceedings to start.
First to speak was Heather Hart, CSG’s Chair and Bunny’s daughter, who welcomed the assembled throng and explained how it was that this second book came to be commissioned – a conversation over a glass of wine, on holiday with her sister, Hilary.
In historical terms, it may seem that fifteen years is a barely significant interlude but such is the pace of change in all areas of life, a mere decade and a half seems like half a lifetime away, particularly in some aspects of life. For example, a quick Google search uncovers an article in which 2002 was predicted to be “the year of Broadband Britain” – which means most people were still accessing the internet by dial-up modems. In fact, Google itself was only four years old, back then and as likely to be the search engine of choice for most people as Yahoo, Excite or Alta Vista – remember them? Facebook didn’t even exist (Mark Zuckerburg enrolled at Harvard in 2002 on his way to creating thefacebook, as it was once known) so social networking and social media were little more than concepts. It really was a very different world.
In the world of waste, the pace of change has been just as bewildering. A veritable slew of legislation in the last fifteen years has led to innumerable disposal practices that were commonplace in 2002 becoming outlawed – each requiring a more professional, more regulated technique of treatment. It may be ‘only fifteen years’ but in truth, it’s easily enough to warrant an entire re-telling of the official story of CSG.
Having given some insight into the creation of the book and with all the right people thanked for their participation and assistance, Heather passed the microphone to Neil Richards, CSG’s ebullient Managing Director. Neil paid particular tribute to the unique way that CSG is run, a reliance on self-sufficiency and a faith in old-fashioned values that encourages a sense of belonging and shared purpose amongst all who join the business.
Neil referred to the very distinct culture at CSG, a careful mix of the familiarity of family businesses with the professionalism of large corporations. It’s certainly no accident that the new book carefully inter-weaves pages of every element of the current CSG team all the way along the company’s timeline of events throughout its 170-odd pages and it perfectly reflects Neil’s words.
The evening was rounded off by a sneak preview of CSG’s new company video (more on that, later this year) before the books on display were given to each of those present. Many even took the opportunity to ask Heather to sign their copy – which she was delighted to do.
As the conversations carried on around the room and into the night, there was a clear sense that the launch of a book charting a company’s history was, far from being merely a documentary of the past, more a starting point to the next chapter in the remarkable story of success that all started with one man’s dream.
Centrifugal force is one of the more entertaining laws of physics. Many of us have swung a bucket of water around our heads (hopefully, without spilling any) in an attempt to impress small children – indeed you may even remember it being demonstrated to you when you were young. Later on, you may have been amazed to watch the ‘wall of death’ motorcycle stunt in which a rider emerges unscathed after riding a motorbike around the vertical wall of a circular pit.
For die-hard devotees, there’s even a fairground ride, the fearsome ‘Hearts & Diamonds’, where brave souls stand unharnessed in a giant circular cage, to be whizzed around such that the entire cage can be rotated to almost 90 degrees. The sight of 50 or so screaming people seemingly stuck to the walls of an oversized washing machine drum is something that tends to live long in the memory, acting as a firm inspiration either to ‘definitely’ or ‘never’ try it for yourself. Either way, most people would agree that watching it is more fun than your average physics lesson.
When it’s not thrilling funfair riders on a Saturday night, centrifugal force has a day job – and it’s one that we really couldn’t do without: separating solid matter from water. Many industries use large quantities of water to carry out a number of processes, whether it’s washing potatoes or to apply a glossy coating to some types of paper. Having completed its process, the watery substance can’t simply be flushed away. It needs to have the solids removed – which has the secondary benefit that the water is left in a re-usable state.
How do you reliably remove potato earth or kaolin paper gloss (or a multitude of other substances) once it’s been mixed with water? You’ve guessed it – a centrifuge, albeit quite a specific type, much more sophisticated than the ‘washing machine drum’ you might initially imagine.
With such a significant demand and in so many places, it’s no surprise that there’s a need for a fleet of the things, with different capabilities and all able to visit your site in order to do their thing. In recent years, CSG have developed their oil-based expertise and have become a leading exponent of cleansing and clarifying fluids in the water-based world.
CSG’s selection of mobile centrifuges are available for hire, lease or even purchase. They can take upto 98% of the solid matter out of its watery suspension, which as a minimum, leads to its more efficient disposal or, in some cases, enables the only way to dispose legally.
With throughput rates of 20,000 litres up to 60,000 litres per hour achievable with some machines, they can guzzle through some serious quantities of sludge – and very often, they need to, as some customers require entire lagoons to be cleaned. Lagoon-clearance is a significant undertaking that may even require a roving dredger or a floating pontoon to literally suck the matter from the lagoon floor and pump it to the centrifuge at the waterside to separate it from the water.
With so many different kinds of application, surely there are limits to the types of location that such sensitive machinery can be taken to. Not so, says Pete Smith, CSG’s Technical Sales expert:
“Many of our most remote locations are at drinking water treatment sites, which can only be reached down quite winding lanes. Our biggest machines are transported on 30-foot trailers so if the lanes are too narrow or if there isn’t room to turn the vehicle around, we can send smaller systems, which will fit in the back of a van.”
The equipment is designed well enough that it can be operated with minimal training, although an experienced CSG operator is an optional extra to whoever wishes to hire it. Pete is keen to point out that ‘cleaning’ water does not make it potable, suitable for drinking, merely clean enough to be regarded as re-usable or fit for discharge.
Whatever the type of customer, their application and whatever the specific type of solid matter, CSG seem to have a centrifuge and a method for the job. While techniques can change significantly if the matter is coarser (grains of sand or grit) or finer (dissolved powders), the primary principle is always the power of separation afforded by centrifugal force, perhaps also the most environmentally-friendly law of physics.
The contribution was made via the Landfill Communities Fund, an innovative scheme, which incentivises operators of landfill sites to work closely with and provide financial assistance to environmental projects in nearby areas.
Established in 2010, the River Bourne Community Farm is 63 acres of land adjoining the River Bourne and has developed into a sustainable working farm, supported by staff and by volunteers. It is a ‘Community Interest Company’ designed specifically to operate for the benefit of the community rather than shareholders.
It provides a resource for local education, as both a venue for school visits and also as a place of learning for BTEC students. Describing itself as “a 1960s working farm”, it places particular emphasis on its sustainability and ecologically sound practices – which were central to farming at that time, before the era of agricultural intensification.
The money will be put towards the cost of the farm’s new purpose-built café. It’s expected that a warmer, more comfortable place to offer refreshments (made with good, wholesome ingredients, of course) will not only increase revenues but also improve visitors’ experience, resulting in more visits!
Currently, the farm’s café operates from a portacabin. As you would expect, the new building will have impeccable environmental credentials. It will be an insulated timber-frame cabin, designed to fit in with its surroundings, offering accessibility to all its visitors. Work started in the spring and it’s expected that the new café will be opened in the autumn.
River Bourne’s Farm Office Manger Jane Wilkinson explained further:
“We are so excited about the prospect of a purpose-built community café. Our families and other visitors are really looking forward to a bit of warmth and comfort! The cafe will play an important part in farm operations and will contribute to the future sustainability of the farm.”
CSG are proud to be associated with this wonderful project and wish the River Bourne Community Farm every success! If you’re ever in the Salisbury area, we recommend you pay them a visit!
The concept of apprenticeship seems to be a strangely controversial one. We often hear how, in “the good old days”, being an apprentice was admired as the only way to enter a trade and how it combined on-the-job learning with real-life values of respect and professional conduct – something worth preserving, you’d think.
And yet a quick Google news search on the subject throws up a myriad of pages that are anywhere between lukewarm and critical of the Government’s latest initiative, the Apprenticeship Levy, with fears of flawed planning, spiralling costs, even job losses all being cited. It all seems as if the merits of apprenticeship are in danger of being forgotten amongst all the doom-mongering, hidden-agenda crossfire.
Daniel Fairhurst is a real-world reminder of what this is all about. At 19, he’d already started to gain experience of electrical work, with seven months with a council housing company in Salford, working on refurbishments. As with many a 19 year-old, thrust into a shop-floor environment, he describes his younger self as quiet and shy. Aside from learning the ropes from older, more experienced colleagues, he quickly understood that the less technical aspects of the job were just as important: “the tenants were still living in the houses while I was working on them – which made things interesting from time to time. One time, there was a guy hiding in his mum’s loft, on the run from the Police!”
After accidentally landing a job at CSG (he’d handed in his CV to a lady at a nearby company who’d happened to pass it to her husband, working at Cadishead), Dan was enrolled on three-year apprenticeship programme, which incorporated City & Guilds and NVQ qualifications with Salford College.c
Earlier this year, Dan, now 22, completed the programme and gained his Level 2 & 3 qualifications. Three years into his career with CSG, he’s come a long way from the quiet lad who joined the company.
“I’m definitely more confident when I’m in work. Obviously, I’m more confident about the stuff I’m qualified in but I also trust my common sense a lot more and I feel more able to show the real side of my personality. Usually, when there’s an issue with any machinery on site, it’s down to us in the Electrical team to diagnose it. If it’s a purely electrical situation, we’ll deal with it. Sometimes, there might also be a mechanical aspect, which I’ll pass on to the Engineering team but I’ll let them know what I think it is and what I think they should do. We like to keep Engineering on their toes – and we know they’ll give it us back if they get a chance. There’s a lot of black humour involved but it’s a positive part of the job and it keeps you sharp. There’s a kudos to being able to say ‘I spotted this’ – and I like being right! I’m very competitive: a poor loser and an even worse winner.”
In many ways, this is a part of apprenticeship that’s just as important as gaining the formal knowledge and experience required to do the job. While it can easily be dismissed as unproductive ‘banter’, the dynamics of working closely with other people, other departments and other companies, each with their differing rules of engagement, encourage a set of soft skills that are often just as useful as those that require a qualification. Words like ‘rapport’ and ‘negotiation’ can often seem like old-fashioned notions from a time when tasks weren’t so process-driven and people were often expected to ‘wing it’ to get the job done.
Today, we’re often conditioned to view any departure from process as a failure – and in lots of cases they are – but that’s not to say that the older values are out-dated. In fact, the opposite is probably true: if it’s true that fewer people today rely on softer skills such as empathy, humour and building rapport, those who can utilise them will stand out more prominently.
Every time Dan is called to a job at Cadishead, whether it’s a £150,000 metal recycling baler or a malfunctioning kettle, he’s not just assessing the electrical considerations (although that’s obviously the most basic requirement), he’s also balancing the priority of the job to the company, compared to the rest of that day’s workload, he’s working within set operational parameters, particularly those of Health & Safety and he’s trying to meet the immediate needs of the person or people most closely affected.
In short, he has the capacity to be everyone’s friend – even though circumstances can often dictate that he has to disappoint someone. I made a point of asking how much of all of that was covered in his coursework. “There’s always a Health & Safety aspect to any of the work we do so I’d say we covered that but the rest of it is just up to me to use my common sense”
Far from merely being ‘common sense’ the world of work is now beginning to value soft skills and encourage their development. Like the very concept of apprenticeship, where values were passed down for centuries before the idea seemed to fall out of favour and then, with recent initiatives, began to experience a renaissance, even common sense itself has become recognised as not being common enough, in need of passing on, in all its various forms. The wheel has turned full circle, it seems.
In fact, for Dan, it keeps turning. With one programme completed, he’s about to embark on the next one, an Apprenticeship Levy-funded HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Trafford College. It’s a sign of his growing development and importance to CSG but it’s also an opportunity for which he’s “particularly grateful”.
Away from work, Dan keeps up his competitive streak at the gym. But when time allows, he’s a keen attendee of various festivals around the country and expects one day to make his way round Europe to some of the biggest festivals in the world. He’s made a habit in recent years of spending St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, which sounds like a mission not for the faint-hearted! He’d also like to set his sights further at some stage, with Australia on his bucket list of destinations.
In the meantime, he’s working on his next target, which is to live “for at least a couple of years” right in the centre of Manchester – just as soon as his student mates graduate and start earning money! I put it to him that it sounds like something similar to the setting of ‘Friends’ – and if so, which character would that make him? We’d already discussed a love of food so the instant answer came as no surprise – “Joey!”
Dan is a perfect example of the benefits of apprenticeship – to employer and employee alike. His growing skill set, encouraged by further learning and day-to-day experience in a nurturing environment are just what CSG and, by extension, any company, should hope to gain from the principle. It’s also encouraging to think that across the country, the Apprenticeship Levy is encouraging the next wave of skilled workers, just like Dan and definitely not, as the song says, “stuck in second gear”.
We were pleased to welcome a new member of the team to our Cadishead office, last month. Daryl Tunningley joins us as a Marketing Executive, giving particular focus to our online activities.
Daryl, 26, hails from York and grew up around one of Britain’s most picturesque cities, although he jokes that the downside to all that historic splendour is that “you spend a lot of time dodging the tourists!”
He began his career curating website content at Persimmon, the house builder, at their Leeds office. Before long, he’d developed the role to such a degree that he became their Marketing Co-ordinator. “I just developed an aptitude for marketing, combining my writing skills with an appreciation for good design but above all, applying common sense and logical thinking to make improvements based on what the analysis was telling me.”
Marketing is a field which has attracted some strong stereotypes over the years, with many still believing it to be the domain of brash, risk-taking ‘Mad Men’ types, too often full of their own self-importance. In fact, in most companies, day-to-day marketing has undergone something of a quiet revolution over the last decade. Since the arrival of the Internet, search engines and, more particularly, social media, it’s now a department awash with very detailed performance data, measuring every click and every view of every piece of content available. Someone has to sift through this tidal wave of information and turn it all into knowledge, which in turn informs the strategy.
You sense this is a role perfectly suited to Daryl. He speaks precisely and unhurriedly, favouring clarity over brevity, suggesting a level of thoroughness that the marketing dinosaurs of the past would find irksome. “I like the fact that my role gives me an end-to-end view of the whole business. This gives me a better chance to understand every part of the process and ensure I can support each one in the best way possible.”
Daryl’s capability for self-teaching is not restricted to his working life: he plays his Fender Jaguar electric guitar “when I can”; his musical ability another product of his auto-didacticism. He also reads widely, with particular interest in Science Fiction and History, “mostly European and any period from Medieval to Modern. I find it fascinating to see how – and why – it is that we are where we are at this point in time.”
Perhaps most surprisingly, Daryl’s embrace of the world of social media comes to an end when it’s time to go home. “I don’t engage in social media at all in a personal capacity”, he tells me, which at first seems an odd paradox but on explanation, becomes perfectly logical. “I remember hearing once that ‘chefs never cook’ and that explains how I feel about it. Social media is a powerful tool but I view it as a means to lead people to the content on our site. The analytical aspect of it all is the most interesting feature for me.”
His next big project is to co-ordinate the design and build of the new CSG website, in production later this year. Needless to say, the ability of the site to provide as much meaningful data as possible will be at the top of his wish-list.
In the meantime, he’s still in the process of increasing CSG’s reporting capability and analytics. If you happen to be the first person who’s taken the time to read as far as this, the last sentence of this blogpost, he’ll probably know all about it.
Earlier this year, 25 of our team underwent training to enable them to work safely and correctly in confined spaces.
Confined Spaces Regulations have been in force since 1997 and are designed to protect workers from the risks associated with working in areas defined as ‘substantially enclosed’, such as a lack of oxygen, amongst a host of other dangers.
The course covered the potential hazards of working in confined spaces, explored the precautionary measures that are available and looked at how those factors combined to inform risk assessment. It also included modules on gas detection and the use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and escape apparatus.
Finally, there was a chance to put the theory into practice with a practical exercise, in which the trainees had to physically enter and get out of a confined space before a selection of multiple-choice questions at the end of the day.
“The training was necessary to ensure that we reinforce a safe system of working in such a potentially hazardous area, while of course continuing to meet our obligations to our employees and the law. With all that in mind, we considered the day to have been a tremendous success” said Sarah Taylor, Compliance Manager at CSG’s Manchester operational facility.
This was one of a number of training initiatives undertaken by CSG this year, demonstrating our commitment to continually raise our standards by investing in our fantastic team.
Brett Ashton is a difficult man to pin down. I called his mobile one morning to discuss this article, only to be met with the reply “Sorry, I’ll have to do this another time – I’m in a nuclear power station”. As conversation-stoppers go, it’s a pretty good one so we rescheduled at a later date.
Of course the reason Brett can be so elusive is that he’s simply just so busy. As Engineering Supervisor for CSG, he brings an extensive knowledge of pumps and pumping – an ideal specialism as moving liquids is a mainstay of our services. He alternates his time, seemingly daily, between our Head Office in Fareham and any of a number of sites that he oversees.
Service and Maintenance team based at our Head Office in Fareham. Brett Ashton far left.
“I’m really a troubleshooter”, he explains to me, when we find a more appropriate time to speak. “I carry out the surveys, examine the data, provide the quotes and source the parts. I do still get my hands dirty but I’m really here to pass on my knowledge when it’s required.”
Aged 32, he started his career in the Royal Navy, not uncommonly for a son of Portsmouth, and served for two years as an Engineer, mostly aboard HMS Manchester. Thereafter, he worked in London, maintaining pumps for a variety of clients: “hotels, department stores, fast-food restaurants; mostly heating systems but all pretty similar pumping requirements”.
For the last four years, he’s applied his specialist knowledge here at CSG. He patiently explains the rudiments of pumping: “you’re either looking to get the right level of flow (in litres per minute) or the right distance, which is represented as a curve on a graph. The complicated bit is when you need to move the curve with the current you have”.
Slowly, it dawns that ‘current’ and ‘flow’ are not interchangeable terms. ‘Flow’ refers to the liquid motion but the ‘current’ is of the electrical variety, the means of powering the whole operation. Brett casually confirms the realisation “I’m actually a trained plumber and a qualified electrician, which is funny really because usually, they don’t get on!”
Confident and yet self-effacing, he certainly doesn’t give the impression of a person given to internal struggle but his point is well observed – anyone who’s worked on a building site will know the two trades can be capable of mixing about as harmoniously as… well, electricity and water.
It’s certainly not a job for people who don’t like exams. Brett has had to undertake confined space training, is a qualified slinger and banksman and is UKPIA-accrediated to work on a forecourt. He’s recently added to this roster by taking a Level 2 & 3 City & Guilds qualification to bolster his electrician’s credentials. “It involved two years of travelling to London for weekends and a lot of A-level maths!”
Perhaps the most enviable aspect of Brett’s work is the wide variety of places it takes him to. Aside from his regular presence at that nuclear power station he’s responsible for operations at schools, Forestry Commission sites, RAF barracks and even TV and Film Studios. As it’s a working studios, you have to check your mobile phone in at the front desk because there’s a strict ‘no photography’ policy – so there’s no chance of a selfie with any of the film stars you might come across!”
Occasional brushes with celebrity are nice enough but they pale in comparison to ensuring a job is well done. Brett explains how smarter technology is helping him to do exactly that. “Many of our pump stations now have a smart element to them. This means that not only do they monitor the levels and spot a fault, they can diagnose the problem and email the client and the team here at CSG. Now, we often don’t need to send out an engineer to look at what’s going on, which is more efficient all round and saves the client money.”
Unsurprisingly, for someone so busy, Brett remains just as active outside of work. A black belt at karate at the age of 13, he also boxed for the Navy at Lightweight (60Kg). Running and weight-training burn off whatever excess energy remains at the end of the day.
Perhaps the most surprising part of our discussion comes when he declares he’s a big fan of rugby league, in particular the Leeds Rhinos. Portsmouth is a long way from the sport’s M62-corridor heartland and over 250 miles from Leeds so why the affiliation? “My Dad used to play for Leeds – when they were just called Leeds – so that’s the main reason but I’d still far rather watch a game of rugby league over union and I try to get up to Headingley to watch a game, when I can.”
What does the future hold for this rugby-league-supporting ex-serviceman of many talents? “I’ve always preferred to see money as a means to travel rather than just owning stuff and I would like to see more of the world but with a young daughter at the moment, we can’t be too ambitious”. It’s clear that, sooner or later, this elusive engineer is hoping to be even harder to pin down – for a few weeks of the year, at least!
The data is in and we’re pleased to see our customer service targets (for our domestic customers) being met and in some cases, exceeded!
Being a customer-focused organisation, we’re keen to see what we do well and where we can improve so we make a point of asking the best experts we can find – customers! A short survey after every septic tank clean gives us the opportunity to see how well we’re really doing at keeping them happy. It’s also proven to be a great way to get ideas to improve what we do.
In February, we saw that 96.3% of our domestic customers surveyed marked us with a 7 or above (out of 10) to the question “How likely would you be to recommend CSG to others?”, a fantastic achievement, we’re sure you’ll agree. In March that same measure actually went up to 96.8%!
It was the same story for higher scores, with February’s level of 10-out-of-10s (68.8%) being eclipsed by the level in March (77.4%). It all points to greater satisfaction – which is the key here because nobody is likely to recommend a service with which they are anything less than satisfied!
We believe that recommendation is the highest accolade we can aim to achieve from our customers so to see such a huge proportion of those we surveyed stating they’re highly likely to recommend us is a wonderful endorsement of our services.
Of course, having set such a high benchmark, the challenge now is to ensure such standards are at least maintained and, if possible, improved further. We can also drill into the data for each of our depots to see how and if the story changes from one to the other.
Waste management is an industry not particularly known for embracing such ‘soft’ ideas as customer service and feedback and we feel especially keen to ensure that CSG remains committed to listening to all our customers and doing all we can to continue to improve our image and appeal to everyone we serve.
CSG acquired two more tankers in March, bringing the total number of tankers in our fleet to 46 across all our brands. Four more will be added this year to bring the total to 50 and will bring to a conclusion the £6million roll-out plan of new vehicles we’ve enacted over the last three years.
The tankers are a mix of Scania and DAF chassis cabs but all feature tanks made by Whale, a specialist manufacturer in Solihull. As you’d expect, we have sizeable service packages with Scania, DAF and Whale to ensure all aspects of the vehicles are taken care of.
It all means we’ve never had more vehicles on the road, ensuring that we have more capability than ever before to respond quickly whenever you need us! It’s a far cry from the fleet of one, the 800-gallon Dennis tanker, bought by our founder Edgar ‘Bunny’ Hart when he created the company 83 years ago.
We certainly work our vehicles hard and, over time – the tanks they incorporate are still going strong even when the chassis cabs have accumulated too many miles for us to continue to use. When this happens, we remount the tanks onto new chassis cabs.
As we mark the end of this phase of planning and determine the success of our current capability, we will embark on the next phase of planning to ensure that we continue to provide the capability and service you can expect of CSG – and remain at your disposal!
The team at our site in Cadishead, Manchester were invited to brighten up the office on Red Nose Day 2017 and once again, they didn’t disappoint – the office was certainly brighter!!
The twist this time was to ‘dress from the decade you were born in’ – so there was a wide mix of styles on show, from Flower Power-inspired 60s outfits to 90s shell suits. Whatever the decade, each outfit was equally garish and they all required the same level of commitment to helping good causes to pull off.
Regular readers of this blog will know that such events are a common feature of life at CSG and among the many ways we have demonstrated our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility.
As ever, we’d like to thank all those who participated for their efforts and their donations – and we invite you to donate to Comic Relief to help them with their ongoing efforts.
CSG were out and about recently, when we exhibited at Southern Manufacturing & Electronics, one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK. We were one of around 800 exhibitors promoting goods and services to thousands of visitors from dozens of industries from 21st to 23rd March.
The event took place in a purpose-built 18,000 sq m venue at Farnborough, Hampshire – also the home of the world-famous Farnborough International Airshow – and only 40 miles from our Head Office in Fareham.
“We found it was a great opportunity for us to make contact with so many companies from all over the South, to inform them of our services, explain how we’re here to help them tackle their growing waste obligations and suggest ways for them to increase the amount of recycling and recovery options we can provide” said Louise Holgate, Marketing Manager, once the show had finished.
A large number of the CSG team were on hand across the three days to offer their combined expertise to a wide variety of companies, some of whom are fully aware of their waste responsibilities and others who are new to the many issues involved with processing waste effectively and legally. Whatever the circumstances, we were happy to offer our help and advice.
After three days of standing and talking (which never sounds like it’s a particularly difficult task until you come to do it), we packed up the stand and got back into our normal routine. We came away with sore feet, hoarse voices and a long list of people to contact to see in the coming weeks, to put our words into more meaningful actions and, of course, add another satisfied CSG customer to those we already have!
On an unremarkable industrial estate just past Queensferry in North Wales, less than a mile from the English border, lies an operation that can claim to be at the very frontier of industrial cleaning.
Willacy Oil was established in 1989 by George Willacy to clean the parts of the oil industry that other cleansing companies couldn’t reach. If you’re familiar with that part of the world, you’ll know it’s dominated by the huge Stanlow refinery, the second-largest in the UK. It’s not surprising that as specialist a service as this should have flourished in such an important petrochemical area.
Over the years, Willacy’s excellence in cleaning tanks and lagoons of waste oil and sludge meant that their reputation grew far and wide. As a result, they found their services were required around the world. How these tasks are performed, often in restricted areas, hazardous to humans, requires a level of technology that’s the envy of many an overgrown schoolboy and was enough to persuade CSG to add Willacy Oil Services to our growing roster of businesses back in early 2015.
The tour of the facility starts in one of the workshops. Various machine parts await installation or servicing. The surroundings are clean and organised, slightly more ‘lived in’ than the clinical minimalism of a Formula 1 garage, but certainly a world away from the greasy, blackened den that many people might expect to see.
My guide is Mike Evans, affable and knowledgeable in equal measure. He patiently explains the intricate details of the processes and parameters of a screw pump that’s currently being installed onto one of the machines in the second, larger workshop. In theory, safely removing large quantities of toxic sludge is a simple enough process – it’s only incredibly difficult in practice.
In a far corner sits a tracked machine, partly dismantled, looking like a more agricultural version of ‘Johnny 5’ of ‘Short Circuit’, the 80s family film. In reality, the machines used for these ‘special ops’ cleaning missions are more akin to the army’s remote-controlled devices for de-fusing bombs as they perform the very manual task of sludge-clearing without the need for a human to be there. When you consider the fact that many of the jobs they’re required to do will be in areas that offer poor access, poor lighting and ventilation and may involve harmful substances, it’s clear that there are serious safety reasons for all this technology and it’s far more necessary than merely an excuse to indulge a wish to use remote-controlled toys.
In addition, tank-cleaning can be an eye-wateringly expensive overhead for the client to absorb, especially when you consider the impact that downtime can have on profits. For this reason, it’s a task that may only be done every ten to fifteen years for any given tank. With such high stakes, the job has to be done perfectly and as quickly as possible, however unfavourable the conditions may be.
Willacy’s machines are not just made here at Sandycroft, they’re constantly being maintained, serviced, modified and re-fit in an effort to continually increase their capabilities. Through a strict adherence to the Continual Improvement Process, it may be said that Willacy’s machines have actually evolved over time to become better adapted to work more efficiently in their various environments. Not for the first time, it strikes me how similar all of this is to the hit TV show ‘Robot Wars’.
As we continued around the yard, we encountered an array of similar-looking, subtly different machines, each suited to its own particular task. Open-air lagoon cleaners can be taller and are liable to be utterly submerged while closed tank cleaners must maximise their access capability by being reducing height as much as possible. Pumping capabilities differ, as do the snow-plough-like sludge-pushing attachments.
Of course, where oil is concerned, getting the troublesome sludge out of the tank is only half the exercise. Next, it has to be re-processed, which means pumping it to another, rather anonymous-looking, machine. To most people, it’s a blue box; to anyone who knows anything about the process, it’s very obviously a centrifuge.
A centrifuge is necessary to spin the waste matter around and split any residual oil from all the clogging sediment. Again, it’s easy to be misled by all the chunky machinery – it may all look rather unsophisticated to the untrained eye but in practice, it’s vital to know what type of oil is being reclaimed because each variant will have very specific settings in the centrifuge to physically coax it away from the unhelpful foreign solids. Depending upon the oil type, the centrifuge is set to a specific number of revolutions per minute (rpm) – just like you’d choose a particular setting for a spin cycle to suit absorbent woollens or more water-resistant polyesters.
Having been successfully separated, the reclaimed oil is sent to be re-refined (yes, that is the correct term) while the sediment cake is correctly disposed of. The client now has a clean tank, which can be thrust back into action and a quantity of valuable oil back in a usable state.
There are wider opportunities to utilise many of these techniques beyond the oil industry, with water-based cleansing being the most obvious application. Originally referred to simply as ‘non-oil’, this may be the sector that affords Willacy the greatest opportunities for growth.
It’s easy to see why the oil market alone has served Willacy so well over the years but it’s also interesting to learn that they’re constantly embracing technology to ensure their services are as sought-after as ever in other markets. Mike shows me their latest innovation – a water-based variation of Sonar-mapping device which can show, to within a centimetre, how deep the sludge is, and how evenly spread, within a tank.
“The original sonar device [known as SPOT – Sludge Profiler for Oil Tanks] was developed around 1996 so it’s been around for 20 years – and has been tweaked and improved during this period”, Mike explains. “Our latest innovation is a re-development of the original SPOT technology – which was designed for oil within enclosed crude oil tanks – to apply it to water environments. The sonar tool and software can now be used to map the levels of sludge at the bottom of lagoons, interceptor bays, or any other open stretches of water where there may be forms of sludge or waste settled. This will help us diversify and use our skills and knowledge developed and gained within the oil industry and adapt that into water and other industries.”
The more the client knows about the scale of their sludge problem, the better able they are to manage their assets. The need to monitor sludge levels isn’t new but the technology allows a far safer and more accurate means of testing than the old-fashioned ‘person with a stick’ method.
Another sign of Willacy’s eye on the future comes in the form of their new website, currently still in development but due to be launched in the next month or so. You can be sure there’ll be an announcement as soon as the site goes live!
Whatever the future holds, you can be sure that with CSG’s dynamism and Willacy’s focus on excellence, the innovations that originated in this unassuming Deeside facility will continue to impress clients around the world for many years to come.
1972 was a hugely significant year for the waste industry. It was a year when operators were forced to act far more responsibly in their disposal of hazardous waste. It took an incident that made national headlines to bring about these changes, an incident that CSG helped bring to a safe resolution.
On February 24th 1972, thirty-six drums containing sodium cyanide ash were discovered at a disused brickworks, near a children’s play area in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. ‘KILLER DRUMS DUMPED ON PLAYGROUND’ screamed the headline on the front cover of the Daily Mirror the next day – and for good reason.
Sodium cyanide is described as one of the most rapidly acting of all poisons, with an oral dosage of only 200mg (equivalent to a headache tablet) liable to be fatal. The consequences of this volume of such a dangerous substance being exposed to the surrounding environment were dire.
Thankfully, a local resident notified the police and the authorities contacted Sweetways, a subsidiary of CSG, to remove and process the hazardous cargo. Nigel Watson takes up the story in his 2002 book on CSG, ‘Waste Matters’:
“Sweetways driver, Bill Bailey, was given a police escort for his journey to the site, such was the urgency given to the incident. The drums were rolled into a demountable container, stored safely overnight at the Evesham depot and sent for treatment and safe disposal…in Botley the next day. The whole episode was conducted under the attentive gaze of the BBC, ITV and the national press.”
A mere twenty-four hours after the cyanide was found, the matter was raised in Parliament, as recorded by Hansard:
“The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Peter Walker): Preliminary investigations suggest that between 3 p.m. on 23rd February and 9 a.m. on 24th February, 36 drums containing sodium cyanide ash were dumped on a site forming part of a disused brick clay workings near Bermuda village, Nuneaton. The drums were found by a local resident and the police were informed. The drums were guarded while police investigations were commenced and arrangements made by the local authority with a firm of waste disposal contractors for the dumped material to be removed to a treatment plant near Southampton.
The waste was loaded on to a covered vehicle by 9 p.m. on 24th February and the vehicle was kept overnight in the firm’s Evesham depot. The vehicle was expected to arrive at Southampton by about 10.30 a.m. today. There it will be examined and the appropriate action taken to treat the substances contained in the barrels.”
One MP reacted to the inclusion of ‘Southampton’ (used as a signifier for CSG’s Botley depot) and was moved to ask if this referred to the port, concerned that the waste would be dumped at sea. The Environment Secretary’s reply, designed to allay that fear, was little short of a ringing endorsement of CSG from the Her Majesty’s Government:
“The reason the material has been sent to Southampton is that there is the best place to treat this kind of matter.”
As the debate continued, Sir Bernard Braine, the newly-knighted member for South East Essex, who would later become Father of the House raised a point that would sow the seeds of change across an entire industry:
“Is my right hon. Friend aware that responsible elements in the waste disposal industry—and they constitute the majority—would welcome the earliest possible introduction of legislation with real teeth in order to ensure that practices of this kind are stopped for all time?”
And so, in the light of an incident that could very easily have become a terrible tragedy, the issue of responsible treatment of hazardous waste was given a high priority by Parliament, resulting, weeks later, in the Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act (1972).
As Sir Bernard Braine had astutely recognised, the legislation served to level the playing field between responsible operators in the waste industry and those who chose to cut corners without regard to the consequences. This in turn had the effect of legitimising the industry by removing it of the unscrupulous element that had damaged its reputation. Further regulation also meant that waste would become a growth industry, something which has continued to this day.
It was little more than fate that saw CSG thrust, briefly, into the national gaze to help effectively dispose of the dumped cyanide at Nuneaton in February 1972. In the years that followed, the benefits CSG experienced in an industry that suddenly required professionalism and respectability more were nothing to do with good fortune and everything to do with being determined to act responsibly and correctly at all times. It’s a lesson that’s as relevant today as it was 45 years ago.
If you have a property with a septic tank, there are some upcoming changes to the law that may affect you – and time is running out for you to comply with them.
By 1st January 2020, septic tanks will now longer be allowed to discharge directly to a surface water such as a river or a stream. Septic tanks that currently discharge via a drainage field into the ground are not expected to be affected.
If your septic tank is currently discharging directly into a surface water, doing nothing means you will find yourself in breach of the regulations from 2020. To stay on the right side of your legal requirement, you could choose any of the following alternatives (which may or may not be available to you):
Connect your existing septic tank to a mains sewer
Install a drainage field and divert your existing septic tank to discharge to ground
Replace your septic tank with a small sewage treatment plant
In each case, there are issues to consider and certain conditions to satisfy.
Connection to a mains sewer
Most people only opt to use a septic tank or similar because there isn’t a nearby mains sewer to connect to so it’s unlikely this will be a viable option to many. If you’re not familiar with the full history of the property, this could be an area to examine. Your local water company will be able to confirm whether or not connection to a mains sewer is a workable solution for you. For new developments, you may be compelled to use public sewers, if they’re close enough.
Install a drainage field
This is potentially the easiest way to get around the legislation, it’s an option if you have access to enough suitable land to provide the soakaway. You must also use a system that meets the BS 6297:2007 standard.
Replace your septic tank with a treatment system
This is probably the most likely outcome for all owners of the soon-to-be-outlawed systems, which discharge to a surface water. Your new system will need to be specified correctly with the right capacity for the levels of usage you have and must meet the BS EN 12566 standard. Once installed, the new treatment system must be regularly emptied and maintained.
You may think that, once one of the above alternatives is in place, your obligations are met but if you go on to sell the property before 2020, you must disclose to the new owner/operator a written description of the way sewage from the property is removed – with details of the new drainage system or treatment plant – together with any manuals and maintenance records.
As always, there are a number of further restrictions and exemptions that may apply. If this rule change applies to your property, we’re happy to help you decide what to do next and, of course, The Environment Agency are always on hand to help.
CSG recently welcomed Kevin Mooney to our ranks, in the role of Health & Safety Manager. It’s an appointment that highlights the paramount importance of the health and safety of our staff, our trading partners and everyone else with whom we come into contact.
Kevin joins us from Pentalver Transport, part of the Maersk empire and has 26 years’ experience to bring to bear, including 14 years as Manager. In a role where everything has to be done right, all the time, across a wide variety of sites and jobs, how does he begin to shoulder such a responsibility?
“I have a competence in safety management that comes from real-life experience, which gives me the confidence to make the decisions I need to make to do my job. Years ago, when I was a truck driver, I saw loads fall and learned from those situations.
“The variety of the role isn’t a problem because my job isn’t necessarily about knowing every situation but knowing where to find out everything I need to know. That means a lot of research and planning.”
It’s not difficult in any organisation to find people who’ll bemoan ‘Health & Safety’ for restricting mundane activities like lifting a box of paper or carrying too many cups of tea but that’s because its also easy to overlook why the need to ensure worker safety exists – and that means looking at a time when the concept was almost unheard of.
In the eight years between 1882 and 1890, when the Forth Bridge was being built, at least 57 people died and an undocumented number were left with disabilities. In a world without any formal Health & Safety obligations, the construction companies who build the 360-foot tall structure had one rule to prevent accidents in such a hazardous environment: any man seen with his hands in his pockets would be fired immediately. There were no harnesses, no safety nets and, aside from the provision of waterproof clothes and boots, the only other concession to safety was a small fleet of rowing boats beneath the bridge – who saved eight fallen workers from drowning. In all, there were over 26,000 entries in the log book of accidents and sicknesses.
Such frightening statistics show how far we’ve come as a society and remind us that the occasional frustration today is merely a sign that today’s employers simply can’t tolerate anything that threatens the welfare of anyone, be they employees, contractors or anyone else towards whom companies have a duty of care.
“As a person, I’m not risk-averse” Kevin adds, which may be surprising to anyone unwilling to look beyond the stereotype. “I’ve raced motorcycles and broken many bones while doing it. These days, I spend most of my weekends restoring my MG BGT, so I’m practical and I know how to get my hands dirty. Doing my job, you’re always well aware that it’s not enough to simply write the rules; I also need to ensure I maintain a culture of acceptance. If everyone buys in to a safety culture, that alone makes everything safer.”
At CSG, we’ve always taken our responsibilities seriously. With such a variety of hazardous environments to manage, and with ever-tighter regulations, it became necessary to further strengthen our already capable function. Aside from Kevin’s role, we’ve also added two new compliance officers and we’re working towards gaining Occupational Health & Safety Management 18001 status across all of our sites.
‘It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good’, as the old saying goes but in the world of recycling, such a sentiment is little short of a mindset. Any form of consumption or manufacture that produces a by-product or other waste is simply an opportunity to provide a benefit elsewhere. If it can’t do that, then it truly is an ‘ill wind’.
So it is the case with JeeGee bedding, made by J&G Environmental, a member of the CSG family of companies. For eight years, it has successfully turned waste cardboard into an effective bedding for stabled animals, mainly horses. Highly absorbent and producing very little dust, as any horse owner will tell you, makes it an ideal bedding substance for any equine.
In recent months, J&G Environmental has agreed a contract with a manufacturer of egg trays to make an even softer, almost dust-free variant of JeeGee bedding from their rejected, unused egg trays. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of shredded egg trays to make up a 20kg bale of JeeGee bedding but they’re made in such vast quantities that even a tiny proportion of rejected trays soon requires that they’re put to some use. To the manufacturer, even their rejected goods can still have a value and to J&G, it’s an exclusive source of materials that are perfectly suited to the purpose.
Of course, horses are well used to sleeping in the recycled waste goods from human civilisation. For as long as recorded time can tell, straw, that well-known by-product of harvested grain, has provided warmth, comfort and sewage absorption to domesticated horses all over the world. Being a biodegradable product itself, it then goes on to fulfil a third role after its use on a stable floor as a base for plant fertiliser. It’s a ‘circle of life’ thing, you might say. The only downside to this centuries-old arrangement is that straw can be quite dusty and for some horses, this can be a problem.
In more recent times, many horse owners have preferred another by-product, wood shavings and sawdust, to do this job. Generally more absorbent than straw and usually producing less dust, shavings offer a more effective option, even if they tend to command a higher price.
Compared to these more traditional alternatives, JeeGee bedding continues the evolution, being described as even more absorbent and almost dust-free. One customer even remarked that her pony, who suffers from laminitis (a condition in which an inability to tolerate carbohydrates and sugars can result in severe foot soreness), found the softer surface much more comfortable to stand on. Another advantage over straw and shavings is that it’s much less likely to stick to your clothes when you spread it around the stable. When you have to do this several times a week, such a minor thing can become a real annoyance!
Bagged at J&G’s site in Blandford, Dorset, JeeGee bedding is sold locally in the area via JeeGee’s Facebook page. As the previous level of cardboard recycling did not require the products to be sold any further afield, there hasn’t been any wider distribution than that. With the success of the egg tray product, it’s likely that that may have to change. J&G will be happy to provide a quote to deliver any quantity of either bedding to any address – obviously the further away from Dorset, the more expensive it’s likely to be.
To coin a new saying, ‘you can’t make top quality horse bedding without breaking up a few egg trays’…
Whatever happened to Valentine’s Day? Do you remember the special thrill of an unknown admirer professing their anonymous, unrequited affection? Remember how such a simple gesture meant so much more than any flowers or cuddly toy?
This year, CSG decided to make Valentine’s Day mean something more than just cheesy rhymes and sparkly helium balloons by turning it into a fundraising day – with the proceeds going, appropriately, to the British Heart Foundation.
The team at CSG’s Sales Office in Cadishead, near Manchester took part in a ‘wear something red’ dress-down day and were encouraged to channel their inner Mary Berry and bake something suitably themed for a cake sale.
Together, the activities managed to raise £73.22 to donate to a cause that fights one of Britain’s biggest threats to life.
You may not have given much thought to the way your septic tank works – which is fine as long as it is working – but knowing just a little can help you ensure that it remains in good order for many years to come.
Okay, here’s the really basic information, which most people already know:
Human waste contains harmful bacteria and can be a means of spreading viruses. Throughout human history – and in developing countries today – the source of some of the greatest threats to life has come from diseases, such as cholera and typhoid, which are transmitted via human waste.
Most houses or buildings with waste facilities like toilets discharge their waste directly into the main system of sewerage drains allowing the immediate removal of sewage to a place where it can be treated.
A relatively small proportion of properties are not sited closely enough to the network of drains and so have to discharge their waste in other ways. The most common alternative is to use a septic tank.
The septic tank’s main purpose is to receive substances such as human waste and hold them such that most of the resultant matter can be allowed to soak away into the surrounding area in a state which is less hazardous to the local environment.
So far, so good but this tends to be where, for most people, the knowledge ends. As we do with so many areas of technology, it’s tempting to see it as a ‘magic box’ that just does what it’s designed to do. How then does it actually work?
The process requires little more than time and what we may call ‘natural processes’ in a sealed environment, which ensures that there is no contamination of the wrong matter.
Essentially, the waste will sort into three states. It just needs to be given enough time to allow it to happen, unhindered. The three states are:
As they are denser, gravity dictates that they will settle at the bottom, where they will continue to decompose, which means break down further until they leave a dense sludge.
As the solids become denser, the liquid matter separates from it. The more solid separation that occurs, the more safely it can be returned to the surrounding area.
The crust is made up mostly of floating fats, oils and grease (and food). This matter collects at the surface of the liquid and should not be discharged with the liquid.
The design of the tank is such that, having enabled the separation of the liquor from the sludge, it allows the liquid matter just beneath the surface (the ‘cleanest’ bit, without the scum) to percolate back into the soil around the tank, the ‘soakaway’ area. Here the cleansing process continues, as the soil itself naturally removes coliform bacteria, viruses and nutrients from the effluent or liquid waste.
For this reason, it’s necessary to see a septic tank as merely the first stage in a process and not the whole solution to the problem of waste processing. Equally, the availability of a suitable soakaway area is just as important as the tank itself.
As the whole process relies on natural decomposition and the power of the soil as a way to treat harmful substances, problems can occur if the waste it treats contains too many chemicals, biological agents or bleaches and with our temperate climate the anaerobic digestion rate is so slow that a septic tank functions much more as a sedimentation tank.
What happens to the three states of matter over time?
With an appropriate level of soakaway area, the liquids will continue to percolate into the soil and harmlessly back into the ecosystem. The chief threat to this may be after periods of extreme wet weather. If ground is already soaked with rainwater, it may lose the capacity to accept effluent, which may bring it to the surface or congest the system, leading to a ‘back-up’ of waste. This problem should never occur as long as the correct soakaway parameters were considered when the septic tank was first installed. Even so, it’s advisable to have a healthy suspicion about this threat whenever there is a sustained period of extremely wet weather.
The scum will remain trapped in the tank as the barrier pipe allows the dispersal of the liquid while stopping the scum or crust entering the soak-away.
Eventually, the level of sludge will build up and begin to compromise the ability of the septic tank to do its job. For optimum efficiency, we advise you to have your septic tank de-sludged regularly in accordance with variables such as how many people live in your household – as this may require you to have it serviced more frequently.
You might have wondered, at the beginning of this blogpost, why on earth you’d ever need to know the inner workings of something that many people may feel is an area best left unexplored but there are many reasons why it’s a good idea that you give some thought to the humble septic tank that spends its life anonymously doing the worst of jobs, hidden away underground.
A little knowledge on the part of every septic tank owner should ensure that it continues to work perfectly – but as many unfortunate people may attest, it’s only when a septic tank stops doing its job as well as it should that it becomes truly appreciated!
One of CSG’s more unusual oil disposal services can be found in Middlesbrough, on the river Tees, performing a valuable task at any time of day or night.
The Erimus Star started life as a Dutch barge, converted from her previous life carrying fuel to barges on the Rhine to collecting waste oil discharge from vessels while they’re in port. Once relocated to Teesside, she was renamed in honour of her adopted home: Erimus, Latin for “we shall be” is the motto featured on Middlesbrough’s official coat of arms.
At the helm is the disarmingly cheery Ray Brown, one of the skippers of the Erimus Star for the last eight years. Originally a lorry driver, he answered the call when the position became available, a role he now combines with his HGV duties.
“I hadn’t done much sailing before I started – just a trip on the Norfolk Broads one holiday – but there were so many courses I had to complete in order to qualify to do the job, my level of experience didn’t really matter. I had to do a Power Boating course, a Radio Operator course, a Sea Survival course, a Day Skipper course and a Night Skipper course. Obviously, nothing compares to actually doing the job and of course knowledge of the river is really important, which is something you can only pick up over time. Now I can say I’m an experienced sailor but to be quite honest, I try to avoid boats when I’m on holiday these days!”
It may seem odd that his 56 year-old craft is the best way to retrieve the waste oil discharged by the various boats in dock at Middlesbrough but there’s a perfectly sensible reason for it.
“There’s a lot of Petrochemical plants here and, for safety reasons, motor vehicles are restricted from large parts of those sites. As we can’t use a lorry to tank the oil, it makes sense to do it by boat.”
One area where you can’t expect Ray to offer an easy explanation is if you ask him to describe an ‘average day’ – there isn’t one!
“Everything can be different from one day to the next: the weather, the number of times we’re called out, the size of the boat we’re discharging from and even the amount of notice we get to do it – although that’s usually when someone’s forgotten about discharging their oil until the last minute!” – there’s a distinctly mischievous tone to his voice as he adds the final sentence!
As the world of shipping largely operates around the tides, servicing its requirements is likely to be a 24/7 commitment. “I wasn’t needed this last New Year’s Eve but the year before, I was out on the water at 11pm and two years before that, I was working at 2am on New Year’s Day!”
With such demands, it’s easy to see why Ray has such an easy-going demeanour – it’s impossible to imagine anyone doing his job for so long without his good humour and positivity. “It’s a great job in summer, in the fresh air and good weather but when the wind blows up the river from the North Sea, you’d be surprised how high the waves can be – upto a metre and a half in 40 mile per hour winds. Thankfully, I don’t get seasick but after a full day bobbing up and down, it can be difficult to shake the feeling of constant motion, even hours after getting back on dry land.”
One of his most recent call-outs was to one of the largest vessels to regularly visit Middlesbrough, the MV Sertão, a 60,000-ton, 228m drill ship. “It’s a bit more challenging than usual trying to connect up when their deck is 30m above ours but the hardest task is keeping the lines tight enough for us to stay in place while loosening them enough during the eight hours that it takes to discharge 50,000 litres of waste oil, to stop the extra weight dragging us off-balance.”
Ray’s a fascinating guy who does a job that most people couldn’t imagine, let alone do. Together with his colleagues at CSG Recyc-Oil, he’s responsible for processing over eight million litres of oily waste every year. If you’re ever in Middlesbrough, look out for the Erimus Star operating on the Tees, in the shadow of the famous Transporter Bridge. Whatever the weather, you can be sure ‘we shall be’ there!
On 12th January, we celebrated our 83rd birthday – the anniversary of the date when our founder Edgar ‘Bunny’ Hart started trading as the Hampshire Cleansing Service.
As a company, that makes us eight days older than Fujifilm, who were ‘only’ formed on January 20th that year, in Japan.
Needless to say, in all that time, a lot has changed in the world – including our approach to waste management – and we’ve grown steadily over the years to become one of the country’s most respected waste companies.
Then: The vehicle that started it all: the 800-gallon Dennis tanker that Bunny bought in December 1933
Now: One of our fleet of over a hundred tankers in its CSG livery
Then: 1934 Admin. A page from the Hampshire Cleansing Service account book.
Now: 2017 Admin. Some of our many office-based staff, aided by a huge infrastructure of data and computing power.
It’s a fitting testament to the vision of Bunny Hart and his family who still run CSG today that a company started all those years ago has not only survived but is primed and ready for the challenges of the next 83 years!
Other events that happened in January 1934:
Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman died of pneumonia (6th)
The Flash Gordon comic strip was first published in the United States (7th)
Actor Richard Briers (The Good Life) was born in Surrey (14th)
Illustrator Raymond Briggs (The Snowman) was born in Surrey (18th)
Actor Tom Baker (Doctor Who) was born in Liverpool (20th)
Actor Bill Bixby (The Incredible Hulk) was born in California (22nd)
Samuel Goldwyn purchased the film rights to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for $40,000 (26th)
Salvador Dali married his muse Gala in Paris (30th)
Earlier in 2016, the annual CSG tea party for retired employees took place, our chance to recognise many of the people who have served the company so well over many years.
The tea party is one of a number of services the CSG can offer retired employees as a result of the Margaret Hart Trust, set up in the 1970s by Margaret Hart, the wife of CSG’s founder Bunny Hart.
Their daughter (and current Chair) Heather Hart explained:
“The Trust holds shares in the company so that the dividends can be used to help current and retired employees any way deemed appropriate. My sister Hilary chairs the whole thing and Fred Pothecary and Diane Lane do all the administration – they do great work!”
Here you can see the attendees of this year’s tea party admiring a new vehicle in the car park.
A generation after it was first conceived, Margaret Hart’s far-sighted idea continues to provide help and inclusion to the people that did more than most to make CSG what it is today!
As the year begins to come to a close, it’s time to offer all our customers and friends the compliments of the season.
As you can appreciate, we’ll be operating slightly differently over the festive period but rest assured, we’re still on hand to help for part of the Christmas and New Year holiday. If you need to contact us, our Christmas opening hours can be found here.
Everyone at CSG is looking forward to working with you again in 2017 and continuing to offer you the great service you’ve experienced in 2016.
Until then, we wish you a wonderful Christmas and a healthy, happy, cleaner and safer New Year!
Fresh from their recent Children in Need contributions, CSG’s Sales team went one further, today by supporting Save The Children’s ‘Christmas Jumper Day’. Together, they raised £160.00 – just by wearing their favourite festive knitwear to work. What a great effort!
It’s one of a number of ways that CSG are happy to lend support to a wide range of charitable causes. Like many other workplaces, we’re keen to embrace fundraising activities for Comic Relief, Sport Relief, Children in Need, MacMillan Cancer Support and many others on their special fundraising days throughout the year. This is all in addition to our own ethos of Corporate Social Responsibility, which has seen us involved with a number of causes that perhaps don’t hit the headlines as much.
In 2017 we will be looking forward to getting involved in more charitable efforts and doing as much as we can to help the less fortunate.
In October, we were pleased to welcome Louis Spencer to our Sales team at CSG Lanstar at Cadishead, Manchester. A recent Biochemistry graduate of Manchester University, Louis brings a level of technical expertise to our sales function.
Louis’ main responsibilities are outbound sales calls and handling queries from existing customers, combining his knowledge of the chemical processes with the finer points of salesmanship.
“I probably only use my degree knowledge a few times a week but the skills I learned at university have proved most helpful, especially the ability to think analytically”, he explains. He’s engagingly modest about his sales skills but anyone who’s ever worked in outbound sales will know that it’s not something you could ever describe as easy. “Outbound is more challenging’” he agrees “but I find it rewarding when I’m able to help find a solution to a customer’s problem”.
A native of Newbury, Berkshire, Louis chose to stay in Manchester after completing his studies: “I come from a small village in the middle of nowhere so I like the fact there’s lots to do in and around Manchester”. Amongst the ‘lots to do’, he spends lots of spare time sailing, having competed regularly for the University of Manchester Sailing Team.
So, two months in, what are his impressions of working at CSG? “I feel I’ve found my feet now. I like the friendly environment in the office – it’s a good atmosphere. I’d like to continue to improve at what I do and be able to match my more experienced colleagues. I just wish the traffic wasn’t as bad on the way to work every morning!”
If you have a waste collection requirement and you think Louis and his colleagues can help, they’re waiting to hear from you. Give them a call on 0800 116 600.
If have a Small Waste Oil Burner (SWOB), aware you aware of the changes to the law permitting their use?
Since 1st April 2016, DEFRA (The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) changed their classification of SWOBs, ruling that they now fall under the Industrial Emissions Directive.
This means that SWOBs are now regarded as small waste incineration plants and, as such, are subject to the same level of regulation. As the costs of complying with this regulation are higher than the level that most users would expect to absorb, it means that for most small businesses, waste oils will need to be sent for recycling via a competent, accredited partner – like Oil Monster!
As this is a legal requirement, companies that do not comply with these revised regulations will be committing an offence, which could lead to action led by the Environment Agency (in England) or Natural Resources Wales. The unregulated use of SWOBs was already banned in Scotland, Northern Ireland and all other EU member states. Non-waste fuels such as gas or fuel oil can still be used.
If you’re still burning waste oil in your oil burner, make sure you stay on the right side of the law. We’ll happily collect your waste oil quickly, sorting out all the legal paperwork – and, if you have a bulk volume, you may even find we’ll pay you for it!
Autumn has certainly arrived and as a result, it’s a good time to think about interceptor cleaning for all businesses required to have one on their forecourt. After a mild start to season, in which the leaves tended to stay on the trees, the recent downturn in the weather has led to a massive amount of leaf-fall in a short space of time – which might not be good news for your interceptor.
While the Environment Agency recommends that interceptor cleaning should be undertaken every six months to reduce the probability of blockages, this is clearly a time of year when the potential for blockage is particularly high.
CSG are always on hand to offer an interceptor cleaning service – helping you to avoid contamination or pollution to your business premises or the surrounding area. We can provide a regular annual or bi-annual service, which includes a system of preventative measures for your commercial activity and its location.
We offer experience in all aspects relating to interceptors: emptying, cleaning, jetting, drainage and gully channel clearing as well as maintaining the interceptor’s alarm system, filters and closure systems – ensuring that you are operational all year round
Interceptors are designed to capture water, waste products and oil, but must be cleaned and maintained to ensure their continual optimum performance. Interceptors (sometimes referred to as ‘oil separators’) are found in many locations where there is a risk of oil contamination – including car parks, fuel stations, heavy goods vehicle locations, roadways and other industrial sites.
It’s an exciting time for CSG’s Marketing team – not only are we about to publish a much-anticipated revision to our very own hardback corporate history Waste Matters but we’ve decided to add the ‘film’ to the ‘book’ and create our own corporate video too!
In reality, the two projects are almost opposite undertakings. We’ve always felt it important to talk about our heritage – we’ve even gone as far as to make it one of our core values – and a book is a great way to reinforce the sense of continuity and permanence for which we’re so well known. Equally, we have to admit that our strong history, however impressive, isn’t an automatic passport to winning and retaining customers in future.
In order to remain just as relevant, we’ve decided to channel another of our core values: innovation. Not only will the video allow our customers and prospective customers alike to see the inner workings at CSG, it’ll help them appreciate, as we do, that it’s our people who solve their problems and provide the progress they require from us.
It’s fair to say that the waste industry is still very often be seen as the ‘Cinderella’ of the economy – due to its very nature, many decision-makers simply want someone to help them get rid of the substances they’d rather weren’t there. Of course, that’s what we do best but in an era where legislation and procedure has grown massively, it’s fair to say that the knowledge and experience we provide are now as important to our customers as any legal or financial advice they may seek.
Professional-grade advice from the people who “empty the bins”? It might have seemed unthinkable only a couple of decades ago but that’s the reality of today’s waste industry – and that’s what our video will communicate.
We’re often called to help when someone has had a problem with their septic tank. Our advice to know a little about your system and follow a few simple steps and you should never have to call anyone out to deal with a problem.
Here’s an example from one of our customers. Paul and his wife converted a barn into their home in 2005. With so much to be done, management of their new septic tank seemed like a low priority but sooner or later, it made sense to give more thought to it:
“A few years ago, my wife and I acquired a barn and set about converting it into a home for our young family. While I knew I’d be putting in a lot of hours on the project myself, dealing with all the joiners, the electricians, the plumbers and so on, one thing I barely gave any thought to was the sewage system. We are somewhat ‘off-grid’ so we knew we’d need our own septic tank. When the subject came up, we spoke to our builder, got a spec and bought one (a Klargester BioDisc, I believe). It was installed and it worked. ‘Great’, we thought, ‘job done’ – but we since came to understand that that’s not all there is to it.
You see, unlike the construction, electrics and internal plumbing, which are mostly visible and being consciously used every day, the sewage system is invisible and the, er, use it is put to is generally far removed from our conscious experience of it. That means that, as the years go on, it’s easy to spot any issues or give thought to making improvements to the ‘main’ build but you can be rather ill-prepared in the event of a problem with the sewage system.
Like any form of risk, when you actually start thinking about what can go wrong, bearing in mind the substances involved, you can quickly imagine a nightmare scenario – but that’s not helpful either. What then is the right level of concern to have – and how do you go from naive ignorance, by-pass pointless paranoia and arrive at a sensible level of understanding?
Predictably, common sense is a good start. There are plenty of helpful guides around on the internet to help you understand how septic tanks work and the more you read, the more comfortable you’ll become. Yes you can understand your septic tank’s design a little better but it actually helps most to appreciate that they even have a design – which is to say that they’re not worked by magic and that there are certain things they’re not really designed to do. I’ll avoid being too graphic but a good rule of thumb I’ve read is that “if it hasn’t come out of you, or wasn’t directly involved in the process, it probably shouldn’t go down there”. Sorry ladies, while it kind of sounds like sanitary items are included in that definition, nothing I’ve read has confirmed it – in fact, almost all advice is that they shouldn’t be.
Does that manage to sum up the basics without descending into unseemly technicality?
From there, the other ‘best practice’ aspects are a little more obvious:
Sludge will build up and should therefore be removed (every six months, ideally)
Bacteria is actually your friend and too much antibacterial matter down the sink will compromise your tank’s effectiveness
Liquids should be effectively dissipated over a large area but give some thought of the effects of extremely heavy rain if it ever manages to flood your drainage area. It’s not a nice thought to contemplate the possibility but it’s far better to do that (and have a plan) than to have to deal with the reality
Above all, the knowledge that help is at hand is a great way to remove the majority of the concern. We don’t just foolishly live in fear of ever getting tooth-ache; we appreciate we can’t ever completely remove the risk so we do what regular maintenance we can and engage a dentist to help us. The point is, once we’ve found a professional who can help, most of the concern can, like the waste itself, simply dilute itself away to nothing.”
Have you done a self-build and installed a septic tank just when you’re busy dealing with the rest of the project? If so, have you fully considered the maintenance of your system? As long as you’re not at the point of dealing with a problem, there’s never a bad time to start and remember – we’re here to help!
As you’ll know if you’re reading this blog, waste matters but at CSG, we also know that so do a few other things, such as being a good neighbour – which has led to yet another example of our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility.
We were delighted to be involved with an initiative local to our Cadishead site, in which local residents were given the opportunity to get to grips with IT and its many uses. It’s a wonderful idea and it has an equally wonderful name – iTea and Biscuits.
Designed for all ages and abilities, it aims to give people the skills and the confidence to go online, use catch-up TV sites, operate smart devices, exchange email, shop online and much, much more. It’s easy to think of such things as universally available but for a number of people without the most basic IT knowledge to ‘unlock’ the internet, the world can start to become a startlingly unfriendly place. Thankfully, this weekly course, run by the Hamilton Davies Trust is there to change all that and improve the lives of all who attend.
We supplied 3 members of the Cadishead team (Louise Holgate, Peter Chiodo and Sam Bate) to offer their own IT knowledge and experience to the residents on the course – some as old as 90 – which was a task they found to be extremely fulfilling.
It’s a perfect example of how, simply by providing information and a little moral support, we can offer significant benefits to our neighbours in the communities in which we operate.
In 2002, CSG did something rather amazing and we’re about to do it again! Fourteen years ago, we commissioned Nigel Watson, a respected corporate historian, to write a definitive ‘History of Cleansing Service Group’. In 2016, we’re about to launch the updated version!
The original book was (and still is) an impressive piece of work. As you’d expect, it chronicled the entire lifespan of the company to date in great detail over the 69 years from 1933 to 2002. For context, it also examined the development of the waste industry from its very beginnings and delved into the history of the Hart family, two generations either side of the company’s founder Edgar ‘Bunny’ Hart.
Perhaps of most obvious interest to anyone connected with the waste industry, Waste Matters remains a useful way to communicate our history to our customers in a way that most companies would these days hesitate to choose. Most companies can manage a page on their website entitled ‘Our History’ but how many a proud enough of their heritage to commit it to a physical hardback book that would grace any coffee table?
It’s for this reason that we’ve chosen to update Waste Matters. Fourteen years may not seem all that much over the now 83 years of CSG’s existence but in a fast-moving, environmentally-conscious world where the sustainable treatment of waste has become ever more necessary, even 2002 now seems like a different world. You could say that this revision of not a case merely of ‘More Waste Matters’ but ‘Waste Matters More’.
The new version of the book is currently being compiled and is expected to be in print next year. Look out for an announcement in due course – and, if you’re already a CSG customer, let us know if you’d like a copy!
In September, CSG were proud to attend the prestigious High Tide Foundation Fundraising Ball in the opulent surroundings of Wynyard Hall near Middlesbrough.
Created to improve learning and employment opportunities for the young people of Teesside, the High Tide Foundation hold this annual event as an opportunity to both celebrate the successes of the previous year and to raise money for their various activities in the year ahead.
CSG were pleased to sponsor a table for £1,000 and were represented on the night by Carl Christie, Joanne Bulmer and Craig Dufferwiel. Needless to say, they thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
With a number of significant customers in the area, it’s important that we lend our support to initiatives like this that matter to the places where we work. Of course it’s great for us to make the most of the networking opportunities that such events provide but it’s also important to be part of something that gives opportunities to the next generation of the workforce in that region.
“We’re already looking forward to next year’s Fundraising Ball!” said Carl – and, looking at the pictures of the evening, who can blame him?