Arts Derbyshire


Trailblazing Derbyshire eco business heads to London to be crowned with prestigious King’s Award after proving its recycled plastic benches are fit for Royalty

A Derbyshire business which has diverted more than 4,000 tonnes of plastic waste from the environment by recycling it into garden furniture has received the royal seal of approval at Buckingham Palace for its trailblazing work helping fight back against climate change.

Rob and Anna Barlow, who run Wirksworth-based garden furniture business TDP, took a trip to the big smoke where Rob attended a reception at Buckingham Palace with King Charles III after the company was bestowed with the prestigious King’s Award for Enterprise, for Sustainable Development.

In the whole of the UK, 148 businesses were honoured with a distinguished King’s Award this year. TDP was one of only 15 to have been crowned for sustainable development, and the only one in Derbyshire.

At the glittering reception in Buckingham Palace, Rob got the chance to chat to the King about how the business is doing its bit to try and combat the huge threat of climate change.

Rob said: “It was such a great evening. Just going through the gate at Buckingham Palace was an experience in its own right! The deeper you get into the palace, the grander it becomes. The state room that we were supposed to have the event in was an inner state room and as it was very humid and hot, the King had asked for that to be changed to an outside state room so the windows could be opened. He was concerned for our comfort.”

TDP Ltd makes a range of garden and outdoor furniture such as benches, planters and picnic tables using only recycled plastic.

The furniture is made from plastic waste gathered from recycling collections, saving it from going into landfill. To date, the company has saved more than 4,000 tonnes of plastic waste from going into landfill, rivers and oceans, preventing nearly 25million kilograms of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. It also stopped 10,000 trees from being felled.

Alongside that, TDP’s hard-wearing recycled plastic benches have further environmental credentials as they do not require harsh coatings and paints as their wooden counterparts do.

The problem of plastic waste in oceans has become increasingly prevalent and accounts for 80 per cent of all marine debris. At least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year.

TDP has shown a deep commitment to sustainability in every aspect of its business. Rob and Anna were early advocates for green energy back in the 1990s, when they invested in solar power and a wind turbine.

Rob said this passion for the environment had led to the company investigating other ways of using sustainable materials and they launched the recycled furniture range in 2012. As part of its commitment to spreading the word on sustainability, the business’s website provides customers with environmental credentials of each product, including the quantity of plastic recycled as well as emission savings.

“We have long been aware of how human activity is damaging our most precious ecosystems and there is an increasing consumer awareness about the damage plastic waste causes the natural world. This is increasing demand for products made from recycled waste,” Rob said in his King’s Award entry.

On the back of its sustainable credentials, TDP now boasts a full order book with clients including The Environment Agency, the NHS and English Heritage.

It has also signed up to the ten principles of the UN Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

Rob said he enjoyed having a good conversation with His Majesty about his business and the world’s significant environmental concerns.

He said: “I found him to be such a nice, genuine and enthusiastic person who was interested in people, puts you at your ease and really knows his stuff as well. We were talking about climate change and what we do.”

To mark its King’s Award, TDP recently donated one of its coronation benches to Wirksworth Town Council where it was unveiled by the new High Sheriff of Derbyshire, Theresa Peltier. The bench is now situated in the Wirksworth Memorial Garden.

Following the King’s Award reception at Buckingham Palace, Rob said he had now formed a networking group with other awarded businesses in the sustainability category, with the aim of collaborating in the future.

In its notes about the awards, The King’s Office said: “TDP has been awarded for a comprehensive and well-executed plan of sustainable initiatives with positive impacts, and for demonstrating inspirational leadership, spreading the word about sustainability amongst its peers and through the local business community.”


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