Market prices for materials fluctuate, waste reduction targets are tightening, business rates and utility bills are increasing.
Some businesses are navigating the uncertainty of Brexit implications, while others look to turn the challenge into opportunity.
However, an area of opportunity lies at the heart of the supply chain, resources – materials, equipment and supplies. The following areas can be improved with a targeted and strategic approach to efficient resource management.
Economic value: A company can spend 4% of its turnover on waste management expenditure, such as skip hire and gate fees. Finding more effective ways to manage resources means they can be reused or recycled with value, therefore reducing this spend significantly.
Environmental compliance: Within the EU Waste Framework Directive, the Waste Hierarchy identifies five steps for effective resource management. Employing a strategic approach will ensure that business practices aim for the top of this hierarchy. It will also strengthen and get the best value for money from resources while maintaining environmental compliance.
Improved resource utilisation: Overdemand for the earth’s natural resources and our history of mismanaging materials, is encouraging businesses to move from the “take, make, discard” linear model to a more “circular” model. Designing out waste in production processes, utilising recycled materials in product development as well as ensuring the recyclability of new products helps to create the “circular” model.
In Northern Ireland, businesses can avail of expertise and support from the Industrial Symbiosis (IS) Service to help them achieve this circular model. Over the last 11 years, the Service has enabled 500 businesses to collectively improve their bottom line by £40million through effective resource management solutions. This fully funded business support programme, delivered by International Synergies NI Ltd, provides market knowledge, industry expertise and facilitates relevant business introductions.
Elaine Kerr, Deputy Director International Synergies NI says “We understand that the landscape for business is complex and that resource issues are affecting all industry sectors. Facilitating the IS journey for organisations protects their time, money and effort in the search for alternative re-use and recycling options. Our expertise can identify strategic areas for improving the effectiveness of resources and encourages engagement across industry sectors to achieve economic, environmental and societal improvements.”
A good example of the process was carried out with “Jump the Hedges”. This small, creative business manufactures technical bags in Belfast. The challenge was to find reclaimed material suitable to manufacture designer Yoga bags, while maintaining the company’s sustainability ethos. The IS Service identified a local trailer manufacturer with redundant PVC truck tarpaulins. These provided the texture, colour range and durability required by Jump the Hedges. This resource match demonstrated reduced raw material costs, elimination of waste disposal costs, reduction in harmful greenhouse gas emissions and diversion of material from landfill.
“The IS service fits in perfectly with the ethos of Jump the Hedges and zero waste is a key focus for my business. Anything in business that helps conserve our resources and environment should be encouraged”. Síofra Caherty, Designer & Owner, Jump the Hedges
The Industrial Symbiosis Service is successful in supporting the following business strategies:
- New product development
- Reduce budgetary expenditure
- Increase sales revenue
- Sustainable supply chain
- Reduce carbon emissions
- Energy production
- Biodiversity conservation
The Industrial Symbiosis Service is a fully funded, free support service and operated by International Synergies NI on behalf of Invest NI
International Synergies NI Ltd