Clothing made from recycled plastic and used coffee granules, a refurbishment service for wind turbine parts and energy-efficient indoor farms are among the innovations being developed by the 2019 winners of the VIBES – Scottish Environment Business Awards, held last Thursday, 14 November, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in central Glasgow.
Based at Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders, active clothing specialist FINDRA won the VIBES Small Business Scotland Award. The company uses seamless garment technology which produces 30 per cent less waste and has also developed a new jacket made from recycled plastic and used coffee granules.
“A spotlight has been shone on the fashion industry and the extensive supply chain behind it, highlighting the massive contribution that fast fashion and our buying habits make to landfill sites,” said Alex Feechan, chief executive and co-founder of FINDRA. “We are committed to doing whatever we can to reduce our impact on the environment and deliver a sustainable future.”
Renewable Parts, based at Lochgilphead in Argyll and Bute, won the VIBES Circular Scotland Award. The company refurbishes, tests and supplies used wind turbine parts, and has diverted around ten tonnes of material from the scrap heap in the last year.
“We firmly believe that reusing and recycling is essential to reduce the impact on the environment, and we are striving to create a new circular economy in the wind industry,” said Michael Forbes, the company’s general manager of refurbishment engineering.
Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS), based in Edinburgh, won the VIBES Innovating Scotland Award. It has developed an indoor farming solution which is 50 per cent more energy efficient than other indoor growing environments, and involves 80 per cent less labour than glasshouse production.
David Farquhar, IGS chief executive, said: “We need solutions that are sustainable, economically viable and provide food security. Our systems will play a part in providing these solutions to a truly worldwide market.”
Another eight businesses also won VIBES awards.
Water technology business Biomatrix Water Solutions, based in Moray, won the Adapting Scotland Award. The firm’s floating ecosystem modules are used in a range of applications, including habitat creation and water quality management.
Galen Fulford, managing director of Biomatrix, said: “Winning a VIBES award is testament to the hard work of the team and recognises our commitment to taking a proactive approach to managing climate risks.”
Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES), headquartered in Glasgow, won the Product Scotland Award. The company’s technology uses artificial intelligence to help reduce energy and fossil fuel use in buildings and communities.
“Climate change is a very real threat, and much more imminent than most people realise,” said Don McLean, founder and chief executive of IES. “Over the last 25 years, we’ve built a solid reputation as a leading innovator in sustainable analytics for individual buildings and we’ve made a huge impact, eliminating the need for around 30 power stations to be built.”
Aberdeen Performing Arts, which runs His Majesty’s Theatre, Music Hall and The Lemon Tree venues in Aberdeen, won the Engaging Scotland Award for working with staff and customers on a series of initiatives to reduce environmental impact.
Leon Gray, head of business transformation at the organisation, said: “We are thrilled to have won a VIBES award, as we are passionate about our stance as a socially responsible, environmentally sustainable creative organisation committed to protecting people and the planet.”
Drinks company Diageo won the Hydro Nation Scotland Award for its Leven site in Fife, which has saved more than 17 million litres of water per annum through performance improvements.
Jay Christie, environmental manager at Diageo, said: “In the current climate, it is essential that we continue to innovate and act as industry leaders for sustainable practices.”
Glasgow-based ACS Clothing won the Leadership Scotland Award for a series of initiatives, including diverting 26 tonnes of clothing from landfill.
“Winning the award is a stamp of approval for our committed approach to disrupting the fashion industry to make it more sustainable,” said Anthony Burns, chief operating officer at ACS.
Oil and gas services business TechnipFMC won the Moving Scotland award for a series of sustainable transport initiatives, including installing electric vehicle charging points and setting up a cycle to work scheme.
Scott Williamson, HSE director, UK and Mediterranean for the company, said: “TechnipFMC is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and sustainability is one of our foundational beliefs. We are extremely proud to see our efforts recognised in this way.”
The Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub on the Isle of Lewis came away with the Partnership Scotland Award. The multi-sector partnership project involves producing bio-gas from fish waste and local household and garden waste and using it as a fuel for a combined heat and power plant.
Some of the electricity generated is then used to produce hydrogen and oxygen for use at The Scottish Salmon Company’s hatchery on the Isle of Lewis and as a fuel for one of the local council’s bin lorries.
Compostable packaging specialist Vegware, based in Edinburgh, picked up the Service Scotland Award. The firm has composted more than 182 tonnes of used Vegware packaging since launching its ‘Close the loop’ container collection service in 2017.
Lucy Frankel, the company’s environmental and communications director, said: “This accolade shows it is possible to develop services that offer both environmental and business benefits, allowing participants to contribute to a sustainable Scotland.”
VIBES is delivered as a partnership between SEPA, Scottish Government, Energy Saving Trust, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Water and Zero Waste Scotland.
The Awards are further supported by CBI Scotland, the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses, Scotch Whisky Association and Bright Green Business.
Bob Downes, chair of SEPA and head of the VIBES judging panel, said: “The scale of the environmental challenge facing humanity, from climate change to plastics in our oceans, is enormous, with a real urgency to act.
“The most successful businesses in the future will be those that are not just compliant, but which are also low carbon, low material use, low water use and low waste, and which see environmental excellence as an opportunity. This is at the core of SEPA’s One Planet Prosperity regulatory strategy.
“It is very encouraging to see the diverse range of businesses, small and large, which are taking important steps to reduce their impact on the environment and which understand how environmental excellence can also benefit their bottom line.
“I would like to congratulate each of this year’s winning businesses and organisations, and hope that others will be inspired to follow in their footsteps.”
Since their inception 20 years ago, the awards have recognised more than 150 businesses that have taken significant steps to improve or reduce their impact on the environment.
To find out more about the awards, visit the VIBES website at www.vibes.org.uk