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61% of businesses think green economy presents positive opportunities

New research from The Entrepreneurs Network, in partnership with The Enterprise Trust, finds the majority of entrepreneurs believe the shift to a greener economy represents an opportunity for business and a boost for the economy. The majority of small and medium-sized businesses believe there are financial opportunities in the shift to a greener economy and that they personally can benefit from them, according to new Opinium polling commissioned for a new report by The Entrepreneurs Network and the Enterprise Trust. The findings from the report, Green Entrepreneurship, challenge the historic assumption that pursuing sustainability is a hindrance to businesses and the economy. It argues that harnessing the innovative products, ideas, and practices devised by Britain’s flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem will be critical to overcoming the environmental challenges facing the planet, while also providing an economic boost and positioning the UK at the forefront of the green growth sectors of the near future. The survey reveals that businesses already have commercial as well as ethical incentives to ‘go green’. Entrepreneurs report that consumers and potential employees are seeking out green businesses. Half of all businesses agreed that their customers expected them to take steps to be more environmentally responsible and 57% agree that employees increasingly want to work in businesses that are seen as environmentally responsible. SMEs are acting on this information: over half (54%) have taken steps to become more environmentally friendly over the past few years, though nearly half (47%) believe they could be doing more. However, consumer and employee pressure alone will not be sufficient to meet major environmental challenges. The report argues that environmental problems are driven by market failures, where governments have not sufficiently made polluters bear responsibility for the full costs of their actions, nor sufficiently rewarded those who develop solutions to environmental challenges Businesses are split on how well they think the government is doing in terms of helping them to profit by addressing environmental problems – most (38%) think it is doing neither well or badly, while slightly more think it is doing badly (30%) than well (24%). Meanwhile, equity investment is flowing into green businesses. Data from Beauhurst reveals that between 2015 and 2019 equity investment into startups described as ‘sustainable’ has more than trebled (204%), while ‘environmental’ businesses saw a 94% increase in equity raised. Green Entrepreneurship Green Entrepreneurship showcases the entrepreneurs who are driving the sustainability revolution. They include Electron co-founder Jo-Jo Hubbard, whose platform makes it easier to manage demand for intermittent renewables such as wind and solar, and Too Good To Go co-founder Jamie Crummie whose business works with restaurants, cafes, and retailers to reduce food waste. Precision agriculture, which uses technologies such as drones to monitor crops to reduce pesticide and fertiliser use while increasing crop yields, has seen a 3,650% increase in funds raised over five years – with £68m raised in 2019. Similarly, urban farming startups have seen a 540% increase in equity investments over the past five years. Orginal Source

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£134 million boost to help UK businesses ‘build back greener’

Businesses across the UK are set to benefit from £134 million investment, enabling ‘ground-breaking clean growth’ projects develop new technologies and secure new jobs, the Government says. It also says the funding could help to secure and create new jobs across the country. The projects include an initiative to service offshore wind turbines autonomously, use AI to reduce beer waste in the brewing process and convert seaweed into compostable packaging to tackle plastic waste. The investment part of the government’s initiative to ‘build back better’ by supporting what it calls ‘the UK’s risk takers’ to bring innovative ideas to market. Businesses right across the UK, from Glasgow to Devon, will benefit from the investment, enabling 1,069 ground-breaking clean growth projects develop new technologies, secure and create new jobs, drive productivity and tackle climate change, the UK government says. Wind turbines This includes marine company Rovco in Bristol, which is developing unique technology allowing for autonomous underwater inspections of large offshore wind turbines. This will be crucial in assisting human operators carry out effective maintenance of one of the UK’s cleanest, renewable energy sources, which can often be dangerous, while ensuring it is carried out in accordance with social distancing measures. Reducing beer waste KegTracker in Pontypridd, Wales, is aiming to reduce the amount of waste in the UK’s brewing industry by using artificial intelligence (AI) to turn kegs into ‘smart containers’ that will provide real time data to accurately monitor the condition and contents of kegs as they travel from brewery to pub and back again. This will help reduce the amount of liquid that is thrown away annually, currently costing the UK an estimated £5 billion a year. Seaweed packaging Another company, Oceanium in Argyll, Scotland, is developing an advanced bio-refinery which will turn seaweed into food and compostable packaging products, tackling plastic waste and creating new jobs in the local area, while supporting the UK’s target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Transforming industries Government hopes these ideas will ‘transform whole industries’ such as manufacturing, hospitality and the automotive sector by helping them respond to the unique challenges presented by the pandemic, while supporting risk takers to bring their novel ideas to market. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The UK’s response to coronavirus has demonstrated the very best of British ingenuity, and it is this resourcefulness that will help us navigate our way through this pandemic. “Today’s investment will ensure that our innovators and risk-takers can continue to scale up their ideas, helping the UK to build back better and ensure we meet our clear commitments on tackling climate change.” The Sustainable Innovation Fund, delivered through Innovate UK, is a cornerstone of the £1.25 billion investment package announced by the Chancellor in April to help ambitious, innovative businesses survive and thrive during the current pandemic. Executive Chair Innovate UK Dr Ian Campbell said: “Yet again we see the exciting range of business innovation taking place across the United Kingdom, despite these difficult times. “Every initiative we’ve supported here represents an important step forward in sustainable economic development, but also one step nearer dreams becoming reality for ambitious hard-working company owners and their staff.” The investment forms part of the government’s commitment to support the UK’s entrepreneurs and start-ups to scale up their innovations, set out in its ambitious R&D Roadmap in July this year. Orginal Source

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HWRCs ‘should remain open’ in lockdown, Defra says

Defra has confirmed that household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) “should remain open” during the lockdown, after a visit to a recycling centre was again listed as an ‘exception’ to the restrictions on leaving home. The department said HWRCs should remain open in England line with Defra guidance updated on 12 October, which reiterates that “there is no reason in law why HWRCs cannot be open where possible”. Guide The guidance for England adds that local authorities “should seek to retain access to HWRC services for their residents to dispose of waste”. Where possible, the range of materials accepted at HWRCs should remain as close to a normal service provision. It adds that local authorities are legally obliged to provide places for residents to take their waste by section 51 (1)(b) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Decision However, the guidance states a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate, and the decision to open a HWRC remains with the relevant local authority. Householders should also still check with the local authority whether their local HWRC is open and also any local restrictions on waste accepted. Workforce Reopened facilities “need to avoid crowding and minimise opportunities for the virus to spread by maintaining a distance of at least two metres”, the document explained. This advice applies both to inside any office or break area, and to where staff may need to interact with householders. Where social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, to manage the HWRC, “there should be a consideration as to whether that activity needs to continue for the HWRC to operate”. If this activity is required mitigating actions should be taken to reduce the risk of transmission between staff and/or householders Councils A string of English councils had announced this week that they had received assurance that their HWRCs will be able to stay open. Hampshire, Oxford and Nottingham, among others, all announced they are planning to keep their facilities open (see letsrecycle.com story). The vast majority of recycling centres were closed as part of the first lockdown as they weren’t deemed “essential”, but were reopened with restrictions and measures in place in May. All recycling centres were closed in Wales as part of its ‘fire-break’ lockdown, which is due to end on 9 November. Orginal Source

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Waste services ‘well prepared’ for lockdown

Waste services in England will not see the same levels of disruption during the second lockdown as were seen in the first, industry leaders have said. This is because many are “better prepared” after facing significant disruption in the spring, but concerns remain over staff which need to self-isolate. In the height of the first lockdown, weekly surveys carried out by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) found more than a quarter of dry recycling and a third of residual waste collection services faced disruption. The main disruption was seen for household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) and other recycling services such as garden waste, while MRFs were also hit by staff shortages. The last survey results for the week commencing 7 September show that 10% of residual waste and 23% of dry recycling services provided by councils in England were reporting minor disruption. Survey Ian Fielding, chair of the ADEPT Waste Group, said that while there were “no plans to restart the surveys at this point”, ADEPT continues to “monitor the situation closely with Defra and our other waste sector partners”. In a statement to letsrecycle.com, Mr Fielding said: “Local authorities are well prepared and if the local situation requires, will put into place their contingency plans to prioritise core household waste and domestic recycling collection services established during the first lockdown. “The safety of our customers and employees is paramount, so we would ask the public to be patient with any minor disruption to services in their areas and stay safe at this difficult time.” Recycling centres Defra confirmed yesterday afternoon (3 November) that councils “should keep HWRCs open” in line with guidance it issued earlier this month (see letsrecycle.com story). Lee Marshall, chief executive of LARAC, told letsrecycle.com that HWRCs were already operating in a Covid-secure way, and added that councils have systems in place across the board to better cope with disruption. “Compared to the first lockdown in March, local authorities already have all their systems and mitigation in place to keep waste services running. They have been operating socially distanced services for months now and have contingency plans in place if staff absence levels increase,” he said. Orginal Source

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BT Group completes switch to 100 per cent renewable power

BT Group has today chalked off a major milestone in its journey towards net zero emissions, confirming that all its network, offices, and shops worldwide are now powered with 100 per cent renewable electricity. The communications giant confirmed it had met its 100 per cent renewables goal - which was set as part of its membership of the RE100 coalition of businesses - at a "digital impact and sustainability" briefing for analysts and investors this morning. The company also announced that its 'Top Tips on Tech' campaign had helped 5.7 million people across the UK to learn and stay connected during the Covid-19 global pandemic. BT is the UK's joint largest private purchaser of electricity in the UK, with its data centres and telecommunications networks a major consumer of renewable power. As such the company has both invested directly in its own renewables projects and inked major clean energy contracts with suppliers. It said that 16 per cent of its electricity is supplied through corporate Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) while the remainder comes from high quality green tariffs or in a small number of markets, renewable certificates. Overall 99.9 per cent of BT's global electricity demand is directly met by renewables sources, while the remaining fraction relates to its operations in eight countries where renewable electricity is not available. As such, the company has purchased renewable certificates in a market or country interconnected to its operations or in an adjacent market or country to cover the 0.1 per cent of power sourced from non-renewable generation. The company also said that "while challenges remain in sourcing renewable electricity in some countries, collaboration with members of the RE100 initiative is helping to make improvements in supplies". The switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity is expected to help BT reduce its carbon emissions in the year to March 2021 by an estimated 54,000 tonnes compared to last financial year. The savings are equivalent to taking around 21,000 combustion engine vehicles off the road for a year, the firm said. "As an organisation that consumes nearly one per cent of the UK's electricity, it is important for BT to demonstrate its commitment to a green recovery," said Cyril Pourrat, chief procurement officer at BT. "Our team has worked hard to secure renewable electricity contracts for our sites globally, a crucial step towards the Paris agreement's 1.5C target." The milestone was welcomed by Sam Kimmins, Head of the RE100 campaign at the Climate Group. "We congratulate BT on their tremendous work to switch entirely to renewable electricity," he said. "BT was an early pioneer in setting a 100 per cent goal, and has made impressive progress. Now, by transparently sharing not only their successes but also the challenges they face in a few remaining markets, BT is helping to accelerate local solutions and unlock clean energy use around the world." Orginal Source

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Leicester’s bus shelters to go green as part of new partnership

Leicester City Council has signed a new 10-year contract with leading out-of-home advertising and infrastructure company Clear Channel UK to replace and manage the city’s 479 bus shelters. Over the next two years, Clear Channel will make a multi-million pound investment into overhauling every bus shelter in Leicester. There will be no cost to the city council. All shelters will be replaced with new, modern structures that will be built entirely from recyclable materials and feature seating made from recycled plastic. Wherever possible, shelters will be fitted with solar panels and power smart lighting to cut energy costs. The purpose-designed solar technology will also make installations quicker, easier and less disruptive as less work digging up highways will be required. Around 30 bus shelters at key locations around the city centre will feature living roofs planted with a mix of wildflowers and Sedum plants to help support local biodiversity and provide more habitats for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. The citywide network of living roofs and solar-powered shelters will be a first for any UK city. It is just one of the steps being taken to help Leicester respond to the climate emergency and cut the city’s carbon emissions. Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “The citywide revamp of our bus shelters will bring huge benefits to Leicester. The new, modern shelters will be great for passengers and the mix of solar power and living roofs will be a major step forward for our efforts to become a carbon neutral and climate adapted city over the next ten years. It will be a perfect complement to our work to deliver a new carbon neutral bus station at St Margaret’s. “I’m really pleased that we have found a partner like Clear Channel that clearly shares our environmental ambitions. “It is vital that we find and work with organisations that are willing to innovate to help us cut carbon emissions wherever we can, and support our ongoing efforts to improve local biodiversity. By introducing living roofs on city centre bus shelters, we can further extend our growing network of pitstops for pollinators and further green-up our busy streets.” Clear Channel’s managing director Will Ramage said: “Leicester City Council has made a huge and decisive step not only to install environmentally conscious bus shelters, but to do it across the entire city. We know that true change comes when we start to roll out these types of innovation at scale. “The council has shown itself as a leader in reshaping what the UK’s streets could look like in the near future. We could not be happier to be working with such a forward-thinking and environmentally conscious local authority.” Work to replace the city’s bus shelters is due to begin next month and is likely to take around two years to complete. Clear Channel will be working with partners to ensure that all material from the old shelters is recycled, upcycled or otherwise avoids landfill. The number of existing paper poster advertising sites across the city will also be reduced as part of the new contract. Select sites at key locations will be replaced with digital advertising screens, powered by 100% renewable energy. The screens – part of Clear Channel’s national Adshel Live network – will be able to display public messaging as well as providing new advertising opportunities to local businesses. Leicester City Council will receive a substantial annual income generated from the bus shelter advertising revenue. Greening up the city’s bus shelters is just one of the actions resulting from the first Leicester Climate Emergency Strategy. Launched this month, the new strategy sets out an ambitious vision for how the city needs to change to move towards becoming carbon-neutral and adapting to the effects of global heating by 2030, or sooner. Orginal Source