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Utilise Plus Event Report: ‘Reduce Single-Use’ Networking Breakfast, Billingshurst
Delegates were up bright and early for the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC’s networking breakfast on the theme of reducing and reusing waste. This event was held as part of the SBP CIC’s Utilise Plus programme, which helps small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to save energy, reducing their costs and greenhouse gas emissions in the process. This event was held in partnership with Horsham District Council.
The SBP CIC’s Jack Dale introduced the event and welcomed delegates, giving an overview of the Utilise Plus programme. Utilise Plus offers a range of services to help SMEs at different stages of their sustainability journeys. These include grant funding for energy-saving projects, fully-funded energy audits to identify energy and cost saving opportunities, and a variety of networking and learning events.
Jack then handed over to our first expert speaker of the day, David Treadwell of Mid Sussex Wood Recycling. David explained that around 4.5 million tonnes of waste wood arises in the UK each year, with just over half of this being recycled or reused. Whether it fuels wood burners or is used for crafts projects in local schools, David is committed to ensuring that all waste wood gets a new lease of life and isn’t sent to landfill. David explained that leftover, brand new timber was previously scrapped from building sites but can now be sold by Mid Sussex Wood Recycling for much cheaper than DIY superstores, undercutting their unsustainable supply chains in the process.
Next up was Kayla Ente of Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative (BHESCo). BHESCo make it their mission to ensure everyone in England can meet their energy needs with affordable, clean, community energy. Kayla spoke about their upcoming anaerobic digestor, the UK’s first community-owned, biogas plant which will be powered by food waste collected from local businesses – literally turning peelings into power! Kayla explained that food waste costs the restaurant sector a staggering £682 million each year and produces tonnes of carbon dioxide. BHESCo’s plan is to collect this food waste and utilise the process of anaerobic digestion to break it down and produce biogas which can then be used to generate electricity and heat for around 10,000 homes. The leftover digestate can be used as fertiliser, ensuring nothing is wasted.
Last but not least, we heard from a ‘Resource Goddess,’ Cat Fletcher of Freegle UK. Cat explained that we’re trapped inside a 3-step linear system where we take from finite natural resources, make products, and then dispose of them when we’re finished. Cat instead advocates a circular economy, where manufacturing is reduced, products are repaired or repurposed, and waste is minimised. Cat focussed on plastic waste in particular, noting that the amount of plastic produced each year is roughly the same weight of the entire Earth’s population. What’s more, the highly toxic chemicals in plastics have been found to seep into foods and drinks which humans then consume, not to mention the devastating effects they have on the environment. Cat believes the answer to these issues is education: knowing that bio-plastics are not bio-degradable, knowing how and where different plastics can be recycled, and ultimately knowing effective and sustainable alternatives to harmful plastics.
After the talks, the event ended with networking over coffee and pastries. Delegates enjoyed the event, with Rachel Carruthers of West Sussex County Council calling it “well planned, entertaining and informative,” while Kirsty Wyatt of BozBoz commented on the “good speakers” and “great content,” and Joe Dellow of Clarion Communications called it “well worthwhile.”
This event was fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). At the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC, we love hearing from knowledgeable speakers, enthusiastic event partners, and interesting venues. If you’d like to work with us, please get in touch.