How VIBES awards recognise Scotland’s leading green companies

Looking after the planet is delivering important financial – and carbon – savings for the businesses taking part in the VIBES Scottish Environment Business Awards, and their customers are also feeling the benefit.

Over the last 20 years the awards have have recognised more than 160 businesses working to reduce their impact on the environment.

Since they were established 20 years ago in 1999, the awards have recognised more than 160 businesses that have taken significant steps to improve or reduce their impact on the environment, often saving money in the process.

CMS Window Systems won the 2019 Best of VIBES Award, which recognises a past winner that has demonstrated an ongoing contribution to sustainable development.

Recycling and designing out waste are priorities for the Cumbernauld-based business, which designs, manufactures and installs PVCu and aluminium windows, doors and curtain walling – non-structural glass façades for the external walls of buildings.

By developing dedicated recycling centres alongside its manufacturing plants, CMS has sent zero waste to landfill for the last two years. The firm recycled 97 per cent of waste – some 2,806 tonnes – and 3 per cent was used to create energy through refuse-derived fuel facilities.

“Our products contain high levels of recycled content and are 100 per cent recyclable after their long service life,” explains CMS marketing manager Sarah Wilson. “Because they’re thermally efficient and secure, it helps householders reduce their carbon footprint and heating costs.

“In 2018-19, after accounting for the costs of running our recycling centres, we saved around £100,000 when compared with not recycling in-house. More importantly, we saved the equivalent of around 2,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions by recycling compared to landfill.”

Shortbread, biscuits, oatcakes and preserves maker Paterson Arran, part of Burton’s Biscuit Company, is committed to achieving environmental sustainability and has saved more than £100,000 per year by reducing waste and the use of electricity, gas and water.

The company, which manufactures in Livingston and on the Isle of Arran, has reduced the energy and water used to make each tonne of its product by 42 per cent and 63 per cent, respectively, between 2006 and 2018.

Other achievements include a near-60 per cent reduction since 2014 in general waste, which is now used to generate electricity instead of going to landfill. Paterson Arran was shortlisted for two 2019 VIBES Awards and won the Management SME VIBES Award in 2017.

“Since 2014, the site has been landfill free,” explains Adam Wilson, technical manager at Paterson Arran. “General waste is sent to a refuse-derived fuel plant to make electricity – and all the company’s food production waste is recycled as animal feed.

“We have an environmental committee, which involves staff at all levels of the business. This has given different departments the opportunity to voice their ideas and has helped communicate the company’s environmental message throughout the business.”

Zero Waste Scotland promotes resource efficiency and the circular economy and is a partner in VIBES.

“Whether you are a business or an individual, using energy, water and materials more wisely can add up to big savings,” says Marissa Lippiatt, head of resource efficiency at the organisation. “Resource efficiency helps small and medium-sized businesses become more resource efficient, cutting energy and water use and reducing waste. It also boosts business productivity, competitiveness, resilience and of course profitability.

“Businesses we’ve supported through our Resource Efficient Scotland programme make an average saving of 24 per cent on energy costs. There’s also expert support available to prevent food and drink waste and cut construction waste from design through to deconstruction.

“To date we’ve helped more than 4,000 businesses and organisations to implement lifetime savings of £237 million and over a million tonnes of CO2.”

East Kilbride-based Re-Tek, one of the VIBES 2019 finalists, provides IT, electronic and electrical equipment repair, refurbishment, reuse and recycling services. The company is currently working with a range of charities, local authorities and education partners to access the ‘urban mine’ of unused electrical and electronic equipment lying dormant in domestic homes.

“We’ve collected more than 18,000 items and have provided financial rebates and IT donations to our collaboration partners, including Social Bite, Strathcarron Hospice and Community Food Initiatives North East in Aberdeen,” explains William McPherson, Re-Tek projects director.

“We also operate a leasing scheme, Lease-Tek, to make refurbished IT equipment available to third-sector, start-up and small and medium enterprises at significantly lower costs than new equipment.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), also a VIBES partner, supports businesses taking significant steps to improve or reduce environmental impact, including the development of new products, services or systems.

“New solutions to environmental challenges can help businesses boost efficiency, reduce resource use and cut waste – as well as contributing to wider social and community benefits,” said Audrey MacIver, head of Energy and Low Carbon at HIE. “So it’s vital that we support these innovations through initiatives like VIBES.”

Previous VIBES winners in the Highlands and Islands include Ross-shire Engineering (RSE), based at Muir of Ord, near Inverness. The company designs and manufactures market-leading transportable, modular water treatment units that are constructed off-site, driving environmental efficiencies.

“We recently completed our biggest transportable water treatment unit build for Lochmaddy as part of Scottish Water’s £15m project to improve the water supply to customers in North Uist and Berneray,” said RSE Director Jamie MacGregor.

“By fabricating, assembling, testing and fully commissioning all of the 16 modules before transporting them to site, we shortened the total programme by eight months, reduced costs by more than 30 per cent and delivered significant environmental improvements by removing the need for prolonged site works. This included vehicle, air, ferry travel and material deliveries to sites which are often remote.”

RSE has also improved its own environmental efficiency through innovations, including the installation of solar panels and a biomass boiler.

At Energy Saving Trust, another VIBES partner, sustainable transport co-ordinators have provided bespoke transport advice to more than 3,600 organisations in Scotland. As part of this advice offering, large organisations can request a sustainable transport review. This free and impartial expert review identifies, on average, annual savings in excess of £95,000 and 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide per organisation.

“In Scotland, 37 per cent of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for by transport,” says Ellie Grebenik, senior programme manager at Energy Saving Trust. “Organisations and their employees can play a vital role in reducing this by switching to electric or hybrid vehicles and encouraging sustainable transport choices including walking, cycling and car sharing.”

For more information on the  VIBES Scottish Environment Business Awards, visit the website.


This article first appeared in the Vision supplement in the Scotsman – see it in full here.