SMEs hold their own in Euro environmental awards

Two companies selected as winners by were among the 12 UK entrants for the European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAEs) being honoured at a reception held at Defra's offices this week.

Both Marks & Spencer for its Plan A and the Olympic Delivery Authority took home awards at the Awards for Environmental Excellence 2011 (now the Sustainability Leaders Awards) organised by and sister title Sustainable Business magazine in November last year.

The European finalists were selected from amongst the winners of the RSA-accredited environmental awards schemes, of which the Sustainability Leaders Awards is one. Only by taking home an award (or first runner up) can a project, initiative or company gain access to the EBAE scheme. The 12 successful entries were presented with their finalist certificates on Tuesday (March 13) ahead of the ceremony in May.

Despite big names like M&S and Levi Strauss, it was the calibre of the SME entrants, which made up almost half of the 12 UK finalists, which most impressed Parliamentary Under-secretary of State Lord Taylor. He told the assembled finalists and guests that SMEs account for 99.9% of all enterprises and therefore, due to their sheer numbers, have the ability to exert significant pressure. He said it was “particularly heartening that SMEs are playing their part in embedding sustainability in their organisations”.

RSA Environment Awards Forum chair Malcolm Aickin added that since the European awards scheme launched, SMEs had won more awards than big business. Proving, in the words of Lord Taylor, that the 12 UK entries really do represent the “cream of the crop” of sustainability innovation and implementation.

All eyes will now be on Brussels in May when the award winners are announced, but the UK entrants will no doubt be feeling the pressure since the UK has taken home at least one award every year since 1994.

There are four categories and the UK is represented in each. Our entrants are:

Marks and Spencer – Plan A Sustainability Programme
Robert Wiseman Dairies – Sustainability Strategy
Olympic Delivery Authority – Sustainable Development Strategy
Arcola – Green Action Plan to become the world’s first carbon neutral theatre

Aquamarine Power – Innovative Oyster wave power technology
Levi Strauss – Levi’s Water

Oxford Catalyst Group – Microchannel reactors for the production of clean fuels
Hanson -Measham Brick Works, sustainable brick making
Avalon – Insulation installation using abseiling
Greenvale – Unique water recycling system developed in the potato processing industry

International Business Cooperation
Cafédirect – Adaptation for small holders to climate change scheme
Sindicatum – Partnership with the Chinese coal mining industry to bring sustainable development into underground mining

Entry for the RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards is now open. Winners will automatically be eligible to enter the EBAEs. Any questions regarding the entry process, judging criteria, judging panel or timescale can be directed to [email protected]

Will Parsons

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