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The UK organisations building a global sustainable future

By GREAT HQ


Never before has the need for action to reduce climate change been felt so acutely. With global forests dwindling, polar ice caps melting, and species on the verge of extinction, now is the time to make significant changes for the good of our environment and our global communities.


1st November will mark one year until the UN Climate Change Conference is hosted by the

UK in Glasgow in 2021. The COP26 climate talks will bring together over 30,000 delegates including heads of state, climate experts, and campaigners to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change.

The UK is full of innovative organisations who are contributing to this agenda. We’ve gathered stories from UK organisations and projects across a range of industries, from furniture to transport, and food and drink to fashion, to find out what they’re doing to protect our environment and help build a better future for our planet.


1) Environmental Street Furniture (ESF)

For Belfast-based ESF, developing and promoting a sustainable agenda has always been a top priority. A passion for innovation combined with a drive to protect the environment has seen ESF develop a host of innovative sustainable street furniture products – from benches that can charge your phone, to eco-friendly hand-washing pods. ESF has delivered projects all around the world , including Dubai’s state-of-the-art Coca Cola Arena and the Gilbert Recreational Parks in Arizona, USA.


When it comes to product development, CEO Alan Lowry firmly believes in making the choice to avoid or recycle plastic. “By harnessing solar energy for phone charging, electric vehicle charging, lighting and much more, ESF improves the availability of power and reduces the use of fossil fuels, helping people and the environment every day.”

ESF’s Stellar Solar smart bench, City Quays, Belfast, Northern Ireland

2) MacRebur

Waste plastic road company MacRebur’s mission is to help tackle two global problems: to resolve the waste plastic epidemic, and to improve the quality of roads around the world.

Processing waste plastics destined for landfill or incineration and adding them into asphalt for road construction and surfacing, MacRebur products reduce fossil fuel usage – leading to a reduction in carbon footprint and helping to foster a circular economy.


First and foremostly environmentalists, the team at MacRebur care about creating a new style of recycling that is not adding to the existing problem the world is facing with plastic waste. Founded in 2016, MacRebur plastic roads can be found everywhere from Aberdeenshire and Yorkshire, to Australia and Dubai.

A road made from waste plastic by Scottish company MacRebur

3) Frugalpac

Pioneering British sustainable packaging company Frugalpac wants to harness the power of recycled paper packaging to help reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste that we produce. The Ipswich-based business creates and supplies recycled paper-based products that can be easily recycled again after use. The Frugal Bottle, for example, is the world’s first paper wine bottle. Weighing in at just 83g, each bottle is five times lighter than a glass equivalent, with a carbon footprint up to six times lower.


The Frugal Cup, produced at the company’s site in Wales, is also the only recyclable coffee cup made from 96% recycled paper. With around 2.5 billion coffee cups used and thrown away each year in the UK alone, Frugalpac is making an enormous contribution to reducing the UK’s carbon footprint – something it also wants to achieve further afield. “Frugalpac has been inundated with global enquires for our products and machines,” says CEO Malcolm Waugh. “We passionately believe Britain can become a world leader in exporting great sustainable packaging.”

A world-first: Frugalpac’s paper Frugal Bottles

4) British Antarctic Survey

The polar regions are at the ends of the Earth, but what happens there affects us all. The RRS Sir David Attenborough will provide scientists with state-of-the-art facilities to research climate change in these remote and unique places. She will be a floating field laboratory for scientists to investigate the seafloor, the ocean, and the life within it, providing crucial insights into the dramatic changes in the polar oceans.


Built in Birkenhead, near Liverpool, the ship has been designed to be as efficient as possible; for example, her engines will operate efficiently across a range of conditions, from ports to the notoriously rough Southern Ocean, and waste heat from the engines will be recycled to heat water and keep the ship warm.


In late October 2020, the ship left the Cammel Laird shipyard in Birkenhead to commence two weeks of technical sea trials off the coast of North Wales. Early next year, she will undertake ice trials in the Arctic, and in November 2021 make her maiden voyage to Antarctica.

Setting sail: RRS Sir David Attenborough will help drive research into climate change

5) BOTTLETOP

From recycled ring-pulls sourced and cleaned in Brazil, to rainforest-protecting Zero Deforestation leather: sustainability is at the very heart of accessories brand BOTTLETOP’s purpose. Since 2012, its founding ethos has been to produce beautiful design, all while ensuring the lowest possible environmental impact. This is underpinned by the company’s upcycled and sustainable materials sourcing programme, as well as the use of plastic-free, recycled cardboard packaging.


And sustainability doesn’t stop at the bags themselves – it’s weaved into the very fabric of BOTTLETOP’s store in London’s Regent Street as the world’s first ever 3D-printed shop, made from upcycled ocean plastic including 60,000 recycled plastic bottles and 5,000 cans.


Every BOTTLETOP bag is designed in-house in London and handmade by artisans in Brazil. These craftspeople are paid 45% higher than the national industry average, empowering their wider communities and supporting the creation of skills and livelihoods.

BOTTLETOP combines fashion and sustainability to create accessories with a low environmental impact

6) Saturn Bioponics

The team at Saturn Bioponics passionately believes that sustainability and agriculture can go hand in hand. Backed by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, the Midlands-based company uses its 3D hydroponic (that is, soilless) towers to grow food such as pak choi, lettuce, and strawberries, as well as herbs and some non-food crops.

This method of growing means that more crops can be produced at a much higher quality. The environmental impact is also much lower than soil farming, as the use of water, fertilizer and chemicals is significantly reduced.


Saturn Bioponics already operates in the UK, Romania, and Japan, and is set to build farms in both Oman and Italy in 2021, sharing its concepts and technology for sustainable crop production around the world.

Saturn Bioponics hydroponic towers are revolutionising how we grow food

7) Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE)

Working in close collaboration with its customers, Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) is helping meet sustainability challenges in the air, on the water, on the road, and on the track. The company works at both a national and international level to deliver real-life solutions to support lower emissions – whether it be working with supermarkets to improve the efficiency of fridges, supporting global organisations in the mining sector, raising awareness of climate change with Extreme E, or developing the next generation of zero emission road cars.


WAE is also supplying its Gen3 battery system to the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, the fastest growing sport in the world. The system showcases the power of advanced battery technology, promoting sustainability through improved durability and fast charging capability, and helping support a greener future.

Supporting a greener future: Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE)

All views expressed in this blog are the views of the guest blogger and do not represent the views of the GREAT campaign.