British Composites Society sustainability policy

The World Commission on Environment and Development suggested the following definition of Sustainable Development (Brundtland Commission Report 1987) [1]: "Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The report proposes that sustainability should be supported by four pillars. These are often reduced to Triple E (Economic, Environmental and Equity) or Triple P (Profit, Pollution, People). The fourth pillar should be governance meaning that systems are managed in a fair, open and transparent manner (i.e. free of corruption, nepotism, etc).

The British Composites Society (BCS), a technical division of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, aims to provide a single authoritative voice for individuals who are practising science and engineering within the composites field. The BCS objectives include organising technical meetings and encouraging publications, promoting education and training and fostering the interests of early career members. The society strives to create a community of professionals who have a mutual interest in composite materials and who can work together and in doing so create a better world for all of us.

The composites community is primarily focussed on fibre-reinforced polymer matrix material and structural systems. The community comprises skills training and academia, industry (including aerospace, automotive and F1, construction and infrastructure, defence, energy {nuclear, offshore and renewable}, general engineering, marine and materials/process equipment suppliers), research and technology organisations (including TRL1-3 at EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites and TRL4-6 at Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the High-Value Catapult National Composites Centre}, the trade body (Composites UK), Knowledge Transfer Network Limited with government and numerous other players. The 2010 UK Composites Supply Chain report [2] estimated there were 1,500 companies in the UK composites sector producing added value of around £1.1 billion.

Economic:

The major income stream for BCS is net surplus from the organisation of conferences and other technical meetings (IOM3 Communications budget).

A secondary income stream associated with BCS is institute subscriptions and Engineering Council/Society for the Environment/Science Council professional registration fees from persons in the technical community.

Costs registered with IOM3 ITPB include direct costs (catering for meetings and any travel and subsistence claims associated with meetings) and indirect costs (timesheet claims associated with HQ personnel and room/AV hire calling on resources already in place within the Institute).

The conduct of BCS meetings calls on considerable volunteer effort. A typical bi-annual HQ meeting will attract ~12 key personnel who would each normally charge a day rate of perhaps £750 and incur travel expenses of perhaps £100 (i.e. an unrecorded contribution of around £10000/meeting).

Environmental:

The environmental burdens arising from the activities of BCS are closely aligned with activities that people within the community would undertake in the normal conduct of their respective businesses. These include travel to meetings (committees or conferences) and food consumed at these events. A full Life Cycle Assessment would unduly extend this sustainability statement.

The operation of BCS does not directly incur significant manufacturing operations beyond paperwork required in the running of meetings. The use of electronic resources is encouraged in this context (e.g. conference proceedings on USB memory sticks rather than as printed copy).

Equity (people):

A key aim of sustainability is to provide fulfilling lives for the population of the planet. The total number of people employed in the carbon fibre composites industry alone in the UK was estimated at just under 18,000 people in 2009 [3]. To best fulfil their professional role, those people are encouraged to move up the professional ladder by membership of appropriate professional institutes and registration with the chartering councils. BCS actively promotes both these options.

The BCS is dedicated to growing the composites industry. It is working within the sector to address the imminent skills shortages and demographic changes which might compromise further industrial expansion and personal fulfilment.

Governance:

The mission statement is online on this website.

The business of the society is conducted in open meetings, normally held at IOM3 HQ, with actions followed up by those present within the limits of time available to the volunteers in the context of their normal employment.

References:

  1. World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (The Brundtland Report), Oxford Paperbacks, Oxford, April 1987.  ISBN 0-19-282080-X.
  2. UK Composites 2013, A Study into the Status, Opportunities and Direction for the UK Composites Industry, Department for Business Innovation and Skills/Composites Leadership Forum, June 2013
  3. The UK Carbon Fibre Composites Industry: Market Profile , Department for Business Innovation and Skills report, NetComposites/Connectra, May 2009.