Sterling Snapshot | Brian Peutherer, Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS)

31st Jan 2023

At Sterling, our highly experienced team members and their passion for what they do are central to who we are. This month, we spoke with Brian Peutherer, Vice President, Environment, Health and Safety (EHS), to learn more about his role and Sterling’s focus on sustainability.

Can you briefly describe your background and current role at Sterling?

I attended Newcastle University where I studied chemical engineering, and I then went on to complete a master’s degree in Environmental Management and Clean Technology. I was drawn to this subject because of its similarities to chemical engineering, while adding a more environmentally-conscious angle. My first role after receiving my master’s was in iron and steel manufacturing, and I then completed a graduate training year which included 4 months commissioning a plant in South Africa.

I then moved into the pharmaceutical industry in various process safety and EHS-focused roles, before taking up a role as EHS Director at Sterling in 2016. In my role today as Vice President, EHS, I am focused on aligning global EHS standards across our sites, seeking new efficiencies, and identifying new ways of doing things that make our sites safe and sustainable. As part of the executive team, I am also involved in developing business strategies for the future of our organisation.

How has the importance of sustainability within the industry evolved over the years?

Being a good neighbour and managing waste effectively have always been important, but in the past five to ten years, the industry and our customers’ focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) has increased significantly.

Whereas twenty years ago, customers may have done simple cursory checks into their partner’s ESG practices, today, these checks have become even more rigorous. It has become more important than ever for companies to demonstrate good environmental and safety practices, and at Sterling, we are trying to lead the way. Our commitment to doing the right thing for our people, planet, and local community, as well as our customers, is central to our culture.

ROLE

Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety

JOINED STERLING 

August 2016

EDUCATION

Master of Science, Clean Technology and Environmental Management

BEng, Chemical and Process Engineering

SPECIALISATIONS

EHS, process safety, GMP, risk assessment, process engineering

It has become more important than ever for companies to demonstrate good environmental and safety practices, and at Sterling, we are trying to lead the way.

What are some key EHS projects at Sterling?

One of my main focuses has been creating a new responsible business policy for Sterling. It incorporates Sterling’s key values of reliability, transparency, willingness and care, and articulates how we would like our business and employees to operate in sustainable, socially conscious ways. I also worked on a roadmap of activities we’re focusing on as part of Sterling’s sustainability journey, as we continually work towards being a business fit for the future.

My biggest area of interest has been carbon footprinting and how we can manage our climate change impact. We started measuring the carbon footprints of our sites, as well as evaluating the carbon impact of our supply chain, which is much trickier to quantify. I have been working towards actionable steps we can take to reduce our environmental impact and implement them as soon as possible. Our current target is a 50% reduction in overall emissions by 2025, with a longer-term vision towards complete carbon neutrality.

More generally, we are focused on maintaining our position as a good employer, providing safe working conditions and a positive company culture. We havea dedicated committee that is focused on promotingall aspects of ESG across Sterling.

How important is collaboration in your role?

Everybody across each site has their own part to play in promoting greater safety and sustainability, and I work closely with different teams throughout Sterling to make sure we are enabling and empowering all employees to support our ambitions. It starts with the executive team and cascades down through each of the site leaders, as they are responsible for the day-to-day operations of their respective facilities. Finally, it is important that the individual team members at each site are aware of how their work impacts our overarching ESG objectives. We are all focused on doing the right thing, and having all of our 1300+ team members engaged and actively participating is paramountto our success.

We are all focused on doing the right thing, and having all of our 1300+ team members engaged and actively participating is paramount to our success.

What are some of Sterling’s biggest accomplishments regarding sustainability?

We’ve made a lot of investments focused on operating in a more environmentally sustainable way. The installation of our Combined Heat and Power Plant at our Dudley, UK facility has resulted in a 10% efficiency gain in our overall energy consumption.

We also have our anaerobic digestion plant, which takes waste streams from our Dudley site, as well as local industries, and converts them into biomethane that will be placed back into the national energy network as an energy source. It will also allow us to make use of recovery opportunity rather than pure disposal of our waste.

Finally, we have very strong engagement and participation from our employees, which is really important. Everybody plays a role in moving our business forward, keeping everybody safe and minimising our environmental impact. In addition, every Sterling facility has an EHS manager on site, and we have about twenty team members across the business who are entirely focused on EHS. It is ultimately just part of our focus on doing the right thing and getting the right results. It is about everybody doing their best to be as efficient and effective as possible.

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