UK Business Briefs: compost, ethical investment, CSR, business opportunities and training

In this week’s UK Business Briefs, an organic compost wins a national award; a UK county council signs up its pension fund to ethical investments; an online debate on how far companies’ corporate social responsibility extends; Peterborough companies do well at a French trade show; and training on environmental risk management.

Waste management company Onyx Environmental Group has announced that it has won a prestigious environmental award for its organic compost produced in Hampshire and sold throughout the UK. The company has won National Gold for the compost, called Pro-Grow, at the annual Green Apple Awards, organised by The Green Organisation. Pro-Grow is organic and peat-free. It is made from green waste from gardens in the county, undergoing a six-month process in which it is aerated and kept at optimum temperatures.

Shropshire County Council’s pension fund has signed up to a socially responsible index service managed by State Street Global Advisors (SSgA), the investment management arm of State Street Corporation. Shropshire’s £80 million indexed portfolio will be able to pursue social, environmental and ethical objectives without compromising its financial obligations, says SSgA. The company differs from the traditional approach to ethical investments in that it engages with companies to encourage them to be more socially responsible rather than using screening to remove them from the index.

BT and environmental advisory organisation Forum for the Future have announced that they are running an email debate into corporate social responsibility. Questions that could be discussed include, should companies address social and environmental issues even when there is no immediate business benefit? What lies beyond the ‘business case’ for sustainable development? And, do businesses have moral obligations whatever the cost? The two-week debate will run from 4 to 17 December, and will culminate in a live internet discussion with Jonathon Porritt, Programme Director at Forum for the Future, and Chris Tuppen, Head of Sustainable Development and Corporate Accountability at BT.

A team from Peterborough, one of the UK’s four Environment cities, has returned from an environmental exhibition in France with an ‘encouraging’ set of leads for business in the city. Encluster – the grouping of environmental businesses already established in the city – took a stand at Pollutec, the international exhibition held in Lyon, France from 26 to 29 November. More than 4,000 people in Peterborough are employed in the environment sector – that’s 4.5% of the working population, contributing around 5% of the city’s GDP.

And finally, Cranfield University’s new Professor of Waste Technology, Simon Pollard, is to run a two-day intensive primer short course on environmental risk management. Pollard and his colleague, Professor John Strutt, have developed this new training programme in relation to those courses that provide training in specialist computer packages and sector-specific tools and techniques, stressing the application of quantitative risk analysis.

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