17th April 2013

£100,000 to help British business improve environmental performance


With just 2 weeks to go until the GeoVation Challenge closes, we’re looking for your innovative ideas which use geographic data to help business improve their environmental performance  and we’re offering a slice of £100,000 in funding to get the best of these ideas started.How can we hlep British Business improve environmental performance? Geovation Image

To help you get your thinking caps on I’ve been looking for examples of great ideas which are helping businesses and people to improve their environmental performance by  reusing or recycling their waste.

Lots of ideas centre on how one person’s waste can be another ones business.  One example is Proper oils, a company who collect used cooking oil from businesses and transform it into green bio diesel which can be used to power vehicles or for heating thereby making a ‘greener’ company and reducing its carbon footprint. Proper Oils collect used cooking oil from anyone buying oil in bulk, such as catering companies like restaurants and take aways as well as large institutions with their own canteens such as hospitals, universities and prisons. They operate primarily in London and the South of England. Proper Oils has recently received funding to launch ‘Unblocking The Community’, which will provide a way for householders to recycle the waste cooking oil and fat as well.

Western countries produce up to 300% more food than we actually need a lot of which will become waste.  Some companies and projects are finding positive ways to reduce this waste.    Brixton People’s Kitchen, is a project which launched last December that aims to bring strangers together to eat while reducing food waste. The premise of these projects is to help reduce food waste in the community and anyone can join the event by donating food, cooking or turning up just to eat.

Rubies in the Rubble have found a way to turn potential waste, in the form of surplus fruits and veg from markets that would otherwise end up as landfill or compost, into delicious chutneys and jam.  Their purpose-built kitchen can be found at New Spitalfields wholesale fruit and veg market so they are ideally situated to intercept any unsold surplus directly, transforming it into chutney as soon as it becomes available at the end of the day. And there’s plenty of it: 700,000 tons of fresh produce passes through this market every year, producing over 200 tons of general waste per week. They also work directly with UK growers, making use of unwanted produce at various points in the supply chain.

FoodCycle combines volunteers, surplus food and a free kitchen space to create nutritious meals for people affected by food poverty in the UK and positive social change in the community.  The idea is simple. Food retailers throw out millions of tons of edible food every year due to supply overstock. FoodCycle redirect this food so it can be used to cook nutritious meals for people in the local community that don’t have access to healthy foods for a variety of reasons. It empowers local communities to set up groups of volunteers to collect surplus produce locally and prepare nutritious meals in unused professional kitchen spaces. These delicious meals are then served to those in need in the community. An estimated 400,000 tonnes of surplus food can be reclaimed each year from the food retailer industry to be made into healthy and nutritious meals. There are 4 million people affected by food poverty in the UK.

What about signing up for the Rubbish Diet Challenge – a slimming club for bins?  It all started with one person’s quest to create zero waste.  Karen Cannard, from Bury St Edmunds gave it a go in 2008 and blogged about it all. Five years on, she’s still blogging and has now launched the Rubbish Diet across the country.  This exciting new approach aims to empower individuals, schools, community groups, transition towns, businesses and even radio stations to run their own Rubbish Diet slimming club. Members share tips and strategies to see how much they can slim their bins by in just eight weeks. The Rubbish Diet culminates in National Zero Waste week (2- 8 September) where dieters apply all their new found knowledge to see how low they can go.

So, if this has given you food for thought, enter the GeoVation Challenge. We are looking for ideas that use Ordnance Survey data, including OS OpenData and OS OpenSpace, together with other open data. The challenge runs to 1 May and the best ideas will be invited to a weekend GeoVation Camp from 21 – 23 June 2013 where you can work on building your idea into a prototype and pitch to the judging panel.  Successful ideas receive a share of £100,000 funding to get started on developing their ideas.