This year was the 20th Anniversary of the Scottish Environment Business Awards – the VIBES Awards – and for the first time SNH was a strategic partner. The Awards celebrate the efforts of businesses across Scotland, large and small, that are committed to improving environmental sustainability in their products, services and practices. Attended by over 350 people, the November Awards ceremony was the culmination of a three-stage judging process, which included a site visit from a judging panel to each of the finalists.
The ‘Best of VIBES’ was awarded to Cumbernauld-based CMS Windows, a company at the forefront of innovative development within the building industry, creating energy efficient and environmentally friendly products and systems. Their windows, doors and walling contain high levels of recycled content and are fully recyclable. They were previous VIBES Awards winners in 2009 and 2015.
The Leadership Scotland Award is for organisations with the vision and systems to improve their contribution to sustainable development. With increasing awareness of the environmental impacts of throwaway fashion, it was won this year by ACS Clothing Ltd, for their circular ‘hire and re-use’ fashion system. They’ve developed an eco-friendly way to clean garments, reducing chemical use, and with 0% waste from the business going to landfill.
The Product Scotland Award went to Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES), a leading innovator in sustainable analytics for the built environment. They estimate that their software, which facilitates the energy efficient design and operation of buildings, has generated energy savings equivalent to the building of thirty 500MW power stations!
Vegware is a global specialist in plant-based, compostable, food and drink packaging. The Edinburgh-based company makes an extensive range of catering disposables from renewable, lower carbon or recycled materials and they have recently instituted a ‘close the loop’ service, collecting used containers from their clients, and established a Composting Collective for consumers. Vegware took home the Service Scotland Award.
Forres-based Biomatrix Water Ltd picked up the Adapting Scotland Award, for a proactive approach to managing climate change risk and helping society to adapt. The company develops ecological water technology – from floating ecosystems to solar islands and constructed wetlands – deployed across the globe. They offer nature-based solutions to water quality improvement and urban habitat creation.
The winner of the Innovating Scotland Award was agri-tech business Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS). IGS is creating optimal conditions for commercially viable vertical farming. By combining different technologies, they have created ‘total controlled environment agriculture’, which has significant water and energy savings compared to glasshouse production.
The Hydro Nation Scotland Award recognises businesses that maximise water resource benefits. Winners, Diageo at Leven, have increased production by 10%, while reducing water consumption by a similar percentage. A newly-installed reverse osmosis plant at Leven has resulted in significant water savings and reduction in effluent.
Renewable Parts Ltd won the Circular Scotland Award. The Argyll company refurbish used wind turbine parts, testing and certifying them for re-use within the wind industry. Within the last year they have reused 10 tonnes of material which would have otherwise been scrapped.
The Engaging Scotland Award recognises a ‘green team’ delivering sustainable changes within a business. The winner was Aberdeen Performing Arts who impressed judges with the way their green team is driving changes in the organisation. The company has made changes including with their energy use, recycling, cleaning products, public transport promotion and, perhaps most significantly, programming of pieces, debates and conversations which address environmental issues, all within their core business.
Businesses whose environmental impact has reduced significantly as result of encouraging active travel and sustainable transport are recognised with the Moving Scotland Award. This year it was won by TechnipFMC, who provide technical solutions to the oil and gas sector. The company has instituted sustainable transport initiatives, including the operation of a bus to save journeys to and from work in private cars; a cycle-to-work scheme; the introduction of walking meetings; and the installation of electric car-charging points.
A multi-sector partnership behind the Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub was the winner of the Partnership Scotland Award. The Scottish Salmon Company, Pure Energy Centre, Community Energy Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have joined forces to combine fish waste with household and garden waste to produce biogas. The biogas fuels a Combined Heat and Power Plant, with some of the energy produced being used to make hydrogen and oxygen for the salmon hatchery.
The final award of the day was the Small Business Award, won by Findra, who were also finalists in the Product Scotland category. This Innerleithen-based company produce a range of active lifestyle clothing made from Merino wool. Merino clothing needs less frequent washing than some fabrics and the production system used by Findra also generates less waste than traditional knitting processes.
Many other inspiring and innovative businesses were shortlisted for the finals and you can read more about some of them on the VIBES website.