North East businesses heard from experts as to how they can embed sustainable practices in their companies, and work together on projects.
The Value of Sustainability event was staged by Newcastle University Business School in partnership with regional specialists in sustainability, Tadea, and supported by Santander Universities.
Keynote speaker, Gareth Kane, author of ‘The Green Executive’, spoke about case studies of businesses who had really embraced sustainability, and set themselves challenging targets.
Gareth talked about making sustainability part of the ‘mainstream’, and demonstrated how companies such as Marks and Spencers and Procter and Gamble, had innovated to bring sustainability to their core products, rather than simply offering token alternatives.
His questions to businesses was: “what are you going to stop doing?” He suggested that thinking should be focussed how businesses can completely modify their existing processes, and not simply add new ones.
Gareth drew on the example of Scottish leaflet distribution firm EAE Ltd, and their strong environmental ethos, which sees the firm using electric vehicles for its distribution and generating its own power with a wind turbine.
While some of these measures meant EAE Ltd are not the cheapest tender, they have won more contracts as procurers placed increased emphasis on sustainability in their specifications.
We caught up with Gareth prior to his speech, to talk about the landscape of sustainability within business. Hear what he had to say here.
Policy advisor for the North East Chamber of Commerce, Mark Stephenson also talked about the strong position that the North East was in to deliver on sustainable energy infrastructure.
We also talked to Mark about the mix of infrastructure required in the region to service businesses. Hear what Mark had to say here.
Elsewhere, Tony Mullarkey, operations director at Potts Print (UK) detailed how the firm has successfully implemented a range of sustainability measures, from the science of production techniques in their platemaking, through to employee car-share schemes.
Tony described how various elements of the Potts production processes had been scrutinised to reduce the amount of spent waste.
Mick Brophy, managing director for business, innovation and development at Gateshead College, presented the opportunities for collaborative work on sustainable projects, and how ideas developed in countries such as Japan, could be implemented on North East soil.
Alan Jones, business development manager at Tadea said: “We aimed to give some flavour to the event, showing businesses real life examples to demonstrate what is possible.
“At the moment, there’s still too much duplication in projects and resources, and if we help businesses to join together, we can work on real economies of scale.
“More and more businesses are realising that sustainability is not just something that is nice to have: it’s essential.
“As Gareth mentioned in his talk, it can help to grow your businesses by winning new contracts as well as protecting the bottom line.”