BRINGING its waste levels down to zero earned Darwen-based company Herbert Parkinson the environment award.

The Monton Road firm, which specialises in soft furnishings and is part of the John Lewis Partnership, has adopted a co-ordinated approach to prove that being eco-conscious makes commercial sense.

Chris Lee, corporate social responsibility co-ordinator, said: “A lot of what we have done comes from John Lewis itself, which has this ambition of getting to grips with all the waste and trying to minimise all the impact it has on the environment.

“It is very important not just for us, but for John Lewis as a whole.

“A lot of research has been done into how we get rid of our waste.

“Before, we had a big red skip in the yard and basically, everything was thrown in.

“Now we do not even have one and we separate all the plastic, cardboard and other materials.”

The 78-year-old company, which employs around 260 members of staff, has gone from sending 198,000kg, or 190 tons, of waste to landfill 10 years ago, to becoming a zero-rated site today.

Revenues of more than £12,000 were generated last year by selling some of the company’s waste products to recyclers.

At the same time, it prevented £15,000 being spent on landfill fees.

Herbert Parkinson specialises in bespoke fabric design and weaving, a seven-day curtain service, filled products and roller blinds.

The company was acquired by the John Lewis Partnership in 1953 to produce an exclusive range of soft furnishing products.

Mr Lee said although he was delighted to win the award, which was presented by Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Kate Hollern, the company’s next ambition was to try to reduce the amount of waste it created in the first place.

He said: “It is an obvious aim. The customers really value that we are environmentally-friendly and it is a real selling point.

“It is my job now to try and look at what we are doing to reduce our waste levels even further.

“I think we can do that by coming up with even more efficient ways of creating our products.”