Martin Speed Ltd. – Towards Sustainable Shipping
Simon Sheffield Executive Chairman of Martinspeed Ltd.
Friday 7th February 2020 National Army Museum

When lending and borrowing works of art who is responsible for sustainability and who pays – the lender? Borrower? Shipper?  This question was posed by Simon Sheffield during his presentation on Martinspeed’s efforts toward sustainable shipping. Sustainability is expensive and time consuming but as the quote on the Martinspeed website puts it, ‘one small step by everyone can help to change everything’.
We all have a shared responsibility and in 2010 Martinspeed committed to theirs in setting out their Environmental Policy (see link below).  Simon took us through the various areas of sustainable progress within the company:
Crating and packaging
The company hasn’t sent any wooden crates to landfill in ten years. This has been achieved firstly by re-using them. A dedicated recycling team drives around London, (in an electric van), to schools, allotments, carpenter’s workshops, universities and so on.  Notably, Martinspeed provided all the timber for the temporary shelter constructed following the Grenfell Tower fire.
They have also produced new flight cases (speed cases) which can be refitted for each use and house multiple works. Poly takes 500 years to decompose and lets off harmful gases as it does so. Martinspeed re-use it where possible and if it can’t then it is baled using one of the companies’ compactors along with other packing materials such as cardboard and then sent for recycling.
Fuel reduction
They have invested in 22 new vehicles that meet the EURO 6 standard, this includes electric vehicles and charging facilities. In addition to this they consolidate loads where possible – this is something that Museums and Galleries can contribute to with good forward planning and a flexible attitude. They work closely with other agents across Europe, utilising road freight shuttles and consolidating or backloading vehicles where possible.
Warehouses and offices
The theme of consolidation continues with Martinspeed’s buildings. The company has worked to consolidate its warehouses, three of which occupy the same road. This has reduced vehicle runs between buildings and therefore reduced emissions.  Their most recent warehouse has been designed with sustainably in mind; solar panels on the roof (there are solar panels on all of the stores rooves), intelligent LED lighting in offices and warehouses (reducing usage by half), thermal insulation and water collectors.  The offices are also moving toward becoming paperless.  In 2016 they were using 1 million sheets, they have now halved that number by using an integrated IT system, barcoding, 4G scanners and storing information on servers. 
Sustainability can be overwhelming. Where do we start? At Martinspeed they started by bringing in consultants to assess their warehouses and offices. This gave a clear idea of what they needed to tackle. Following a question from the audience Simon clarified that the drive for change at Martinspeed came from the top – the ideal scenario. Some of the other speakers gave an insight into change instigated further down the hierarchy, both examples equally inspiring. The overriding message is that we all need to get involved wherever we sit within our organisations. Thanks to Simon and the other speakers for inspiring us to do just that.
Emily Goalen, Loans Officer, Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums.