Heat reuse innovations and Henry Dimbleby’s food fund: The sustainability success stories of the week

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and sustainability leadership.

Across the UK and across the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: Warsaw eyes metro heat reuse to cut emissions


Team edie have covered several innovative heat technology stories since the new year, including a British project taking waste heat from Bolton’s sewer system to power university and council buildings as well as homes and businesses.

Now, the Municipality of Warsaw is exploring the possibility of using excess heat from the city’s metro system to heat homes and other buildings. It has signed a partnership with the Royal Danish Embassy in Poland, the metro operating firm, Ramboll Group and Danfoss to conduct a feasibility study.

Danfoss estimates that repurposing waste heat in Warsaw could cover the heating demands of more than a quarter of a million people, while reducing heat emissions as the city aims for climate neutrality by 2030.

Danfoss’s president for the East European region, Adam Jedrzejczak, said: “Rather than simply letting heat dissipate into thin air, we are taking active steps to capture and re-use it and paving the way for fully decarbonized heating in cities like Warsaw. And it isn’t only in the Warsaw Metro system; there is vast potential in reusing heat from wastewater facilities, industrial clusters, and data centers in major cities all over Europe.”

RESOURCES: Bath Spa University launches coffee cup return scheme


Polling by environmental charity Hubbub recently revealed that three in ten Brits intend to use reusable packaging, like coffee cups, when out and about – but often forget to bring this with them. Hubbub’s recommendations for effective reuse schemes include minimizing “friction points” like forgotten packaging, plus keeping usage costs low.

Bath Spa University is embedding these principles in its new campus-wide returnable coffee cup scheme, launched in a bid to reduce the 55,000 single-use coffee cups used annually.

Customers at any of the campus’s five coffee outlets can pick up a reusable cup for no charge, with no need to remember to bring their own. Once finished, they can drop the cup at any of the five outlets – not necessarily the one where the initial purchase was made.

The University is working with City to Sea on the scheme. Its Vice Chancellor Professor Sue Rigby said: “Our vision is not just campuses free from single-use plastic, but one where Bath Spa University plays a leading role in bringing about local and regional awareness of this problem, and all of us playing a part in bringing about habitual change which helps the environment.”

MOBILITY: EcoLab partners with Ford Pro, eyes 11,000+ EVs by 2030


B2B hygiene solutions provider EcoLab has announced an ambition to transition its entire sales and service fleet in North America, comprising some 11,000 vehicles, to pure-electric models by 2030.

The firm is collaborating with Ford Pro, the automotive giant’s B2B arm, to order and deploy the EVs. Ford Pro also provides services including charging, software and maintenance. As a first step, around 1,000 electric trucks and SUVs will be added to Ecolab’s fleet in California. EcoLab expects to save $1,400 per vehicle, per year, on fuel costs.

The transition ties in to a global 2050 net-zero carbon goal, a long-term aim shared by both Ford and Ecolab. Ford notably made structural changes last year in anticipation of a rapid increase in electric vehicle (EV) sales in North America.

Ford Pro’s chief executive Ted Cannis said: “Ford and Ecolab have worked closely for almost 100 years, from water conservation at Ford now to electrification at Ecolab. Together, we’re showing that sustainability is good for the bottom line and the environment.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Manchester Metropolitan University set to construct lab made from timber and straw


The World Green Building Council estimates that 11% of the world’s annual emissions are generated upstream in the built environment sector, including through materials and construction processes.

Manchester Metropolitan University this month received the go-ahead from the local council to build a ‘living lab’ pavilion for its expanding robotics division, intended to be built using materials with a low embodied carbon footprint.

The single-storey building will feature a timber frame manufactured using wood from the UK, plus wall panels insulated with straw. It will be delivered using modern methods of construction to minimise waste and will be designed for disassembly; the majority of the components, architecture practice Bennetts Associates has said, will be reused in the future.

On operational emissions, the building will feature natural ventilation, passive cooling and radiant heating to reduce energy demands.

Sam Gills, architect at Bennetts Associates said, “The pavilion meets the Manchester Metropolitan University’s climate commitments entirely, embedding circularity and low carbon design whilst also acting as a landmark space on the All Saints campus for fashion designers and manufacturers.”

SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP: Henry Dimbleby launches investment drive for sustainable food systems


Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon and former food strategy advisor to the UK Government, has launched a new investment firm which aims to finance transformational changes in the global food system by backing entrepreneurs. It initially has a £50m fund to allocate.

Announcing Bramble Partners, Dimbleby said it will support projects at all levels of food systems, from farming to consumer habits and waste management. It will make investments in startups and scale ups from Series A to growth stage, provided they have the potential to “significantly” improve the environmental or health impacts of food systems, or to make them more resilient to the climate crisis.

Dimbleby said: “The current global food system is disastrous both for our bodies and our planet: it is the single biggest cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss, drought and freshwater pollution, and the second-biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK, it is also by far the biggest cause of preventable illness and death.

“Things have to change – and the good news is, they already are. There are fantastic new businesses springing up, using both cutting-edge technology and old wisdom to create better ways of feeding the world.”

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