Developing a circular waste economy
In their projects, the finalists demonstrated diversity and growth not only in improving their environmental footprint, but also their social capital and governance framework.
Winning the small business category was UAE-based Trident Trackway, which transforms waste into heavy-duty products for the construction and events industries. Trident’s sustainable approach won against Egyptian consortium EGAAD, which makes customised liquid organic fertilisers by recycling organic waste.
Trident co-founder Cameron Cairns emphasised his company’s commitment to the circular economy. “We have used and recycled over 440 tonnes of recycled plastic so far … One of our ideal options is when we take our waste from the construction companies, we turn that into a product which they can then use again.”
Both firms impressed the judges. “I just felt that Trident tipped the balance as more deliverable and measurable,” commented Howlett.
“The construction space is something that we’ve got to get right in this region because it drives the region infrastructurally so the more we can do to support it from a sustainable respect, the better.”
Emphasis on environmental and social capital
In the mid-sized category, glass processor Future Architectural Glass won against electronics manufacturer Phoenix Contact.
Both firms underscored a commitment to sustainable manufacturing, with Future Glass highlighting initiatives to reduce water usage and electricity consumption, while Phoenix Contact worked to understand their carbon emissions footprint.
“In the first half of the year, we were able to reduce water consumption by 9 gallons per day per person by installing aerated taps and a sewage treatment plant,” said Future Architectural Glass Director Firoz Kachwala. “Over 7 months we’re saving on average 5,000 gallons per day.”
Social capital was another key area for the two finalists. Iyad Madanat, General Manager of Phoenix Contact Middle East, noted the importance of employee mental wellbeing and self-care strategies.
“We are going to make live online support sessions available to the employees for any issues or topics that they want to discuss that are pulling them down,” he said.
Commitment to sustainability
In the corporate business category, wellness company Fine Hygienic Holding (FHH) edged out water management solutions provider Metito, with the judges noting their commitment to their ESG goals.
“Sustainability is embedded at the heart of both companies and it’s been part of a very longstanding journey, not just overnight. That’s reflected in the size and scale of what they’ve done so far but also on the scale of their ambition going forward,” said Howlett.
FHH highlighted their drive to reducing human impact on the environment, particularly with the ongoing pandemic. The company has sold 2 million of their reusable masks, which they estimate has saved 500 million disposable masks from landfills.
In their closing comments, the judges lauded the programme participants for their energy, noting how much progress had been made since in the last year.
“I felt today what I saw was a camaraderie and a sense of common purpose, and every company irrespective of size or border looking to achieve a more sustainable future,” said Howlett.
This year’s Living Business programme, which kicked off with a virtual launch event in March 2021, saw participating companies receive one-on-one strategic guidance and support to identify opportunities for positive action. They also had access to a panel of Success Partners who worked with them to implement the projects. All achievements were showcased on social media and at a graduation event held at the UK pavilion at Expo 2020.
The programme is organised in conjunction with sustainable consultancy Globally and start-up competition entrepreneurs Get in the Ring. Each winner has received a place on an online course at the Institute for Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge.