Since 2014, the Business Growth Hub has helped companies to implement a range of innovative waste management solutions that are now diverting over 1,000 tonnes of waste from landfill a year.
The figure has been achieved through a host of different measures, proving that sustainable waste management is much more than just recycling and waste separation.
Specialist environmental business advisors at the Hub provided SMEs in Greater Manchester with on-site, one-to-one support to identify and implement opportunities to improve their resource efficiency, looking at innovative solutions such as process improvements, eco-design and on-site energy recovery.
In total, the measures taken by companies have saved £535,000 in annual material, waste and other costs. They have also cut annual emissions by 1,849 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) – enough to fill over 1,000 hot air balloons.
Many of the improvements were made at minimal upfront cost to the business.
For example, a bakery in Tameside found that it was wasting 36 tonnes of bread per year due to a conveyor system that was squashing buns if they got past a certain point on the production line.
By installing sensors on the line to automatically stop the conveyor when needed, no buns are now wasted. The measure is saving £10,800 in raw ingredients and a further £1,800 in reduced waste costs a year, as well as the 2,000 hours of work that was spent each year producing the bread that was ultimately being wasted further down the production line.
The measure paid back on upfront investment immediately due to the low cost of the sensors.
In another example, a manufacturer of industrial sealing technology in Bolton found that it was rejecting a number of plastic billets for use in products because they were cracking in the oven during processing due to being stored at too low a temperature.
By ensuring that adequate storage temperatures were maintained, the company is saving three tonnes of the material from being wasted a year, worth £30,000. It also means that it is sending less waste to landfill, worth a further £240 in annual waste costs.
Companies have also taken measures to reduce their use of materials by designing out waste in products and packaging.
For example, a specialist materials manufacturer in Trafford is saving £2,000 in annual packaging costs by replacing its standard cardboard packaging with returnable, hard-shell transit packaging for repeat customers.
The reusable packaging saves four tonnes of cardboard annually and will pay back on investment in half a year.
Other businesses have benefitted from turning their waste into a resource for their own operations.
Bluebell Fitted Furniture, a furniture manufacturer in Trafford, has turned its wood waste into an energy resource by installing a manually-fed wood burning heating unit to replace conventional gas heating.
The unit diverts 126 tonnes of wood waste from landfill a year, reducing waste costs by £10,000, and reduces gas demand for heating by £2,500 a year.
Bluebell’s investment paid back in less than a year and has reduced its annual carbon footprint by over 100 tonnes of CO2e.
The Business Growth Hub is now providing expert eco-innovation support to SMEs in Greater Manchester.
The service helps companies to identify opportunities where environmental innovation and eco-design can transform existing products, packaging and processes or drive the development of new ‘green’ offers for an increasingly eco-conscious global market.
Samantha Nicholson, head of low carbon at the Hub, said: “As we move towards a more resource efficient, circular economy, the most successful companies of tomorrow will be the ones that recognise the value of cutting out waste across their value chain and reconfiguring their business model towards sustainable products and services.
“Our specialist advisors provide tailored solutions and ongoing, on-site support to increase their productivity, competitiveness and profitability.”
For more information, visit the Business Growth Hub’s Green Growth website.