LAB3, a laboratory supplies company employing 55 staff in Northampton and Bristol, is the first business in the UK to successfully undergo a Phase 3 Acorn inspection by a UKAS accredited Acorn inspection body.

LAB3 attended a pilot training programmes offered by Business Link Northamptonshire in 2004. Following three separate training sessions, one for each phase, and four days of additional consultancy support by Groundwork, the company has now successfully passed its Acorn inspection by NQA. LAB3 are aware of the many environmental issues that affect them.

The phased approach of the Acorn Scheme was attractive because it enabled them to demonstrate their achievements on route to ISO14001. The training, materials and support provided by Groundwork made the implementation process very manageable.

Bekir Andrews from Groundwork stated: “I am very excited by LAB3’s success and I am confident that the Acorn methodology is going to gain real momentum. I am currently working with over 40 clients looking to implement Acorn/BS8555 and the interest is growing. Some of our larger clients want to use the Acorn methodology simply to be able to track their progress towards implementing ISO14001:2004 which can take two years to complete.

Other companies are very interested in rolling out Acorn/BS8555 within their supply chain as businesses can also seek independent inspection against specific environmental requirements imposed by the client.” Catherine Summerfield, Environmental Business Sector Manager at NQA commented: “NQA were delighted to work with LAB3. Acorn/BS8555 is an excellent environmental management system that allows flexibility in the speed with which an organisation progresses, with clear milestones providing reassurance that the implementation is on target. Companies can also choose to register for any phase ….”

The training programme was funded by the East Midlands Development Agency and Groundwork East Midlands and was organised by Business Link Northamptonshire. Groundwork and Business Link are now in the process of trying to secure additional funding to run additional Acorn/BS8555 training programmes for small and medium sized businesses in the East Midlands.