Lanarkshire's green pioneers
The green economy is frontier territory where opportunities abound for those with the imagination and enterprise to seize them. The 21st century brings new challenges to the energy sector and Lanarkshire is already reaping the rewards of progressive environmental thinking.
Intelligent Waste Solutions
Intelligent Waste Solutions Ltd of Blantyre is a great example of green pioneering success. Founded in 2004 by chemist Robert Hall and partner Michael Toal, Intelligent Waste Solutions Ltd expects, with 14 staff, to turnover £2.3 million next year.
Robert Hall explains: "Waste management and processing means that you get chargeable customers at both ends of the business; people pay us to remove their waste and other people pay us to supply them with recyclables. Of course, you have to do the bit in the middle very well to make a profit."
Intelligent Waste Solutions' 'bit in the middle' is an impressive operation. Its recent move from Hamilton to Blantyre has created space for a new recycling operation. Recoverables will be collected from businesses, processed and then sold to paper mills in the UK and abroad. A new cardboard compressor processes 20 tonnes of cardboard an hour into bales that are then shipped to China.
Waste can be a complicated business and this is reflected in the variety of IWS activities. In addition to all of Sainsbury's Scottish recycling, the Blantyre company converts material from landfill waste. It also operates in the lucrative hazardous waste collection market and in security shredding. Confidential documents are bagged, tracked and shredded in view of a webcam that customers can access. IWS has ISO 9001 and 14001 accreditation, both of which were gained with help from Lanarkshire's Business Support Programme.
Intelligent Waste Solutions has made good use of the business support available. The firm secured funding through the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme, the West of Scotland Loans Fund and the Lanarkshire Business Venture Fund to support the move to Blantyre, property improvements and working capital requirements.
All this funding, combined with IWS's efficiency and enterprise has helped to establish another green business and more green jobs in Lanarkshire.
Cooking waste to bio-fuels
The Rural Development Trust, based in Douglas Water, has launched an innovative appeal to local businesses who need to dispose of waste cooking oils.
The trust operates a community transport service across South Lanarkshire and has recently acquired equipment to convert waste cooking oils into bio diesel. It plans to run its fleet, which ranges from eight seater minibuses to 33 seater coaches, on the cost effective and eco-kind fuel. The trust purchased equipment after it secured grant funding from South Lanarkshire Council.
Gordon Muir, managing director of the Rural Development Trust explained: "At first, we will produce the bio diesel from waste cooking oil and we would like to hear from anyone - or any organisation - who can supply us with oil, or help us to find suitable oils. By donating used oil, local businesses can help us provide more services to communities in Lanarkshire. It could also help to create local jobs in converting the oil into bio fuel."
The trust aims to create a self sustaining organisation which can provide transport and other related services to communities throughout Lanarkshire. As part of its carbon neutral policy, it plans to install a 6kw wind turbine beside its depot. The power generated from the turbine will be used in the waste-oil conversion process.
Muir said: "We are keen for other businesses to follow our example and we are willing to share our experiences with other businesses in Lanarkshire. Results from fuel tests and details of how much power is produced by the turbine will be published on our website."
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Wave power expertise in Coatbridge
A Coatbridge engineering company has capitalised on its reputation for quality and reliability to break into the wave energy market, just as the first phase of the world's first commercial wave farm is switched on in Portugal.
D&G Precision Engineering manufactures components for the Pelamis P750 Wave Energy Converter, new technology that uses the motion of ocean surface waves to create electricity.
As one of Scotland's fastest growing engineering companies, D&G specialises in supplying components to a wide range of industries including the electronics, food and drink and nuclear sectors. However, due to the decline in some industries traditionally supplied by D&G, such as oils and electronics, the company was prompted to review its strategy and consider new markets and ultimately came up with new and innovative engineering solutions applicable in the wind and wave energy markets.
D&G's marketing director, Carol Sharp, said: "We have been working with Pelamis since October 2005, manufacturing key components for their wave converter devices for the wave project off Póvoa de Varzim in northern Portugal. We have also supplied components for other devices in the Orkneys, in the north of Scotland, and a wave hub development off the north coast of Cornwall."
Sharp is confident that the renewable energy market has huge potential for growth: "We have also been working closely with the manufacturers of wind turbine components and already supply components to companies within the UK, where our highly skilled workforce and reliability have earned a solid reputation. We hope to expand into Europe and this Portuguese project will help make the main players involved in renewable energy on the continent aware of our products and services."