Eco Innovations Recognized at Awards Ceremony, Showcasing Collaboration Between Small Businesses and Leading Universitiess

Kiki Callihan and Martin Paley, co-directors of Relic Plastic CIC - winners of ‘Community champion’ at the Eco-I North West Awards

Eco Innovations Recognized at Awards Ceremony, Showcasing Collaboration Between Small Businesses and Leading Universities

Manchester, UK – Eco innovations developed through partnerships between small businesses and renowned universities to combat climate change were honored at a prestigious awards ceremony. The event celebrated the success of Eco-I North West (Eco-I NW), a research and development program focused on creating sustainable technologies, products, and services. The program, led by a consortium of universities including Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Cumbria, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, and Manchester Metropolitan, provided over 330 SMEs with access to cutting-edge research facilities, extensive knowledge, and valuable networks, resulting in the development of innovative solutions that are projected to save 3,850 tonnes of CO2.

The Eco Innovation awards ceremony took place on May 18 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, highlighting the exceptional achievements of various businesses and their collaborative efforts with universities.

Among the winners was Used Kitchen Exchange, based in Widnes, which received the award for ‘Most Impactful Business Innovation’ for its collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University. The company devised an ethical solution for pre-owned kitchens, developing a carbon-saving tool that benchmarks and promotes carbon and tree savings achieved through kitchen reuse. On average, every time a kitchen is reused, it results in savings of 3.5 tonnes of carbon and 1.6 trees. Co-founder Phil Lord expressed gratitude for the recognition, acknowledging the instrumental role played by the university in validating their sustainability credentials and contributing to their business’s success.

The Rebuild Site CIC, located in Carlisle, was honored with the ‘Most Promising New Business’ award for its work with the University of Cumbria. The company focuses on diverting surplus waste from construction sites and donating it to community groups, promoting circular economy principles within the industry. Their collaboration resulted in the creation of a materials database, showcasing the amount of CO2e saved by redirecting waste from landfills and sharing this information with customers.

Silverwoods Waste Management, based in Altham, Lancashire, received the ‘Carbon Journey’ award for its partnership with Lancaster University. Together, they demonstrated that spreading cement bypass dust on agricultural land improves soil quality and offers a more sustainable alternative to traditional fertilizers. The collaboration has highlighted the significant potential for industrial waste to contribute to negative emission solutions, aligning with the UK’s objective of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

Relic Plastic CIC, located in Heysham, was recognized with the ‘Community Champion’ award for its commendable efforts in collecting and repurposing post-consumer plastics, such as DVD cases and bottle tops, to create high-quality handmade products. The organization collaborated with the University of Central Lancashire and Lancaster University to expand its partnership with businesses, schools, and community groups, aiming to reduce plastic waste in landfills and raise awareness about sustainable actions.

City Centre Commercials, based in Liverpool, received the ‘Best Concept in Development’ award for its collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University. The company worked on manufacturing and testing the GeoBrick, a novel unfired brick made from recycled aggregate sourced from construction, demolition, and excavation waste.

In addition to the business awards, outstanding students involved in the research projects were also recognized. Matthew Bond from Lancaster University won the ‘Most Impactful Postgraduate’ award for his research with REPIC, a not-for-profit producer compliance scheme for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). His project helped REPIC quantify its downstream carbon footprint, leading to a better understanding of the carbon emissions associated with WEEE collection and recycling.

The ‘Most Impactful Undergraduate’ award went to Lee Ollerenshaw from the University of Central Lancashire, who collaborated with ELE Advanced Technologies, a high precision parts manufacturer based in Colne. Lee’s project focused on improving resource optimization and waste management, supporting the company’s roadmap towards achieving net-zero emissions.

Keynote speaker Wayne Hemingway, a renowned designer known for his commitment to sustainability, addressed the audience, sharing his passion for sustainable practices and emphasizing the importance of collaborative efforts in achieving a rapid transition to more sustainable economies and societies in the face of the climate emergency.

Dr. Andy Pickard, manager of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation (CGE) at Lancaster University, expressed his satisfaction with the Eco-I North West program’s success. He praised the collaborative research between academia and businesses, highlighting the impressive work of the regional university partners, talented students, and the hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses involved.

Dr. Pickard emphasized the need to expand the network of collaborators to drive the transition to sustainable practices further. He encouraged businesses to connect with universities in the region, initiating conversations and fostering new partnerships to address the pressing challenges posed by climate change.

The Eco Innovation awards ceremony not only recognized the achievements of these innovative collaborations but also served as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to combat climate change through sustainable technologies, products, and services. With continued collaboration between small businesses and leading universities, there is hope for a greener and more sustainable future.

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