Meet the individuals and companies from across the region who are leading the way to creating a circular economy, ensuring South Yorkshire a sustainable hub for business.
Simoda, formed in 2019, are a local I.T. and technology business based in Kelham Island, Sheffield. They work with customers to help them innovate, modernise and transform through the use of technology and I.T. infrastructure.
They partner with companies like Hewlett Packard Enterprises providing refurbished, sustainable hardware and also wider sustainable I.T. strategy solutions and services for businesses.
Since a large part of achieving more sustainable operations is based around scope 3 emissions and measuring the impact of supply chains, Simoda are leading the way with supporting businesses locally and national with operational efficiency gains, reducing energy consumption and full asset lifecycle management through their work with partners.
As a business, Oyster recognises the impact of the print industry on our natural environment, however they don’t believe that print should be deemed negative, as long as there are measures in place to ensure that it is sustainable.
Through Oyster’s Eco Tariff, clients have helped reforest the local area and as a result positively impact wildlife and ecosystems. Oyster’s approach to tree planting is holistic, planting trees to create wildlife habitat, combat climate change and make a greener world.
To create wildlife habitats, they are working in association with Tree Appeal, planting multi-species tree plantations because ecosystems require the biodiversity of trees. In association with Tree Appeal, they plant up to thirty different species of native broadleaved trees comprising berry and fruit-producing hedgerow trees and larger species such as beech and oak that produce nuts. These trees are planted in wildlife reserves like the one above Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.
Future Greens, a pioneering startup based in Sheffield, recently secured a six-figure investment to back a new innovative and sustainable approach to vertical farming entirely powered by food waste.
Substantial investments have been made by two venture capital firms, including Carbon13, a sustainability focused fund led by researchers from University of Cambridge, that only backs ventures with the highest potential to address the climate emergency.
Additionally, the company has received backing from a private Angel investor in Sheffield and a grant in partnership with the University of Sheffield from Innovate UK.
Throughout the first half of 2022, Future Greens was a successful vertical farming pilot growing year-round produce and supplying local grocers in Sheffield. However, the energy crisis exposed the vulnerability of the vertical farming model, which relies heavily on energy. Unable to afford the overheads, company founders David Dixon, Gabriel Barteškait, Alexander La Fleur and Alastair Roper were forced to close their facility and rethink their approach.
The team joined Sheffield Technology Park’s Cooper Project, designed to help tech entrepreneurs by providing free workspace and tailored start-up support. This move enabled them to start exploring renewable energy sources, with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon negative.
Future Greens’ pioneering approach involves extracting energy from food waste, diverting it from landfills and incineration. This process not only reduces waste but also fosters a sustainable and circular farming ecosystem.
The recent investments will fund Future Greens’ co-founders to work full-time on the development of their ground-breaking idea. Their immediate priorities include creating a prototype and preparing to build a vertical farm in Sheffield with food waste integration.
Sheffield Action on Plastic’s Chair, Greg Hewitt
Sheffield Action on Plastic is a voluntary community group working with the Sheffield community to reduce single-use plastics.
The group can achieve this in multiple ways, but to start, it has set up a reusable cup hire scheme (to reduce single-use plastic cups at events), as well as running Plastic Free Markets (where the public can shop sustainably without single-use plastics). The group are looking to apply for funding for a reusable coffee cup trial scheme at coffee shops across central Sheffield, as well as pursuing refill water points /fountains, to reduce the need for purchasing plastic water bottles.
There are a good number of businesses taking sustainability seriously, as demonstrated from the South Yorkshire Sustainability Awards. However, a challenge businesses face is both finance and staff capacity to achieve sustainability measures.
Businesses should be conducting at least an annual review/audit on their practices to assess what sustainability measures they can take. Business Sheffield and business advisers should be able to support these businesses in achieving these measures, but without financial support from government, it may just be unviable for them to achieve successful measures.
Sheffield Action on Plastic is a volunteer run group and are looking for volunteers to help achieve its mission. Volunteering roles include flyering, standing on stalls at events, graphic design, social media support, and networking
Evoluted’s front end developer and CSR officer Matt Cotton
Evoluted is a 36-strong digital agency based in Sheffield who provide web design, development and digital marketing services. We’ve always been conscious about “giving back” – we’ve contributed to Ecologi for a number of years, have done big fundraising projects and pro-bono work, and we run community events like Sheffield DM and Sheffield PHP. But, that said, we haven’t really had a clear sustainability strategy with targets up until this year.
We operate part-time ‘Cultural Officer’ roles which can be held by anyone at the company and are rotated every 6-12 months to encourage fresh perspectives; as the current CSR Officer, I’ve worked with our MDs to set sustainability goals and put initiatives in place.
Our 2023 goals are based around reducing utilities usage, increasing the proportion of waste we recycle and the proportion of suppliers who
are local, offsetting emissions and raising company-wide awareness of sustainability issues throughout our team.
Introducing a formal CSR post has provided the headspace to review our environmental performance at a company level and plan for the future. We’re also pursuing B-Corp status, which will be a huge step forwards.
We’re currently well under target (i.e., performing above target!) for our electricity and water usage goals – we’re probably using around 70-80% of what we used last year. We aimed for at least 20% of supplier spend to be through local suppliers this year and we’re significantly exceeding that.
We’ve introduced new recycling sorting bins and created a directory of local companies providing eco-friendly products. We ran a Virtual Office Stewardship series earlier this year with daily tips on reducing emissions while working from home and we’ve increased team awareness about office energy usage.
Lastly, we’ve introduced active tracking of business travel transport usage, so we can accurately line these up against the emissions we’re offsetting through our Ecologi contribution.