Representatives from industry and academia addressed a range of issues affecting businesses of all sizes and complexities across Northern Ireland when considering a move to a Circular Economy or sustainable business practices at the recent Circular Economy conference at South West College (SWC).
The Circular Economy is a concept centred on reducing waste and minimising use of finite raw materials by maximising the value in the resources we use. In a circular business model, the materials we currently consider as waste will become food, fuel or raw materials for other processes. Ultimately this will reduce our reliance on virgin materials and reduce the financial and environmental impacts of waste disposal.
Key players from WRAP, DAERA, CO-Innovate, Innovate UK/Invest NI, BITCNI, Queen’s University Belfast, University College Dublin, Greenville Energy, SWC and AD Sustainability Consultancy discussed the future of sustainable business in NI. Through a series of focused workshops and debate sessions, businesses were made aware of the support and funding available to them and how to access new skills and technology to break into new markets.
Christine Irvine, Connected Projects in Renewable Technologies, SWC said:
“We are facing uncertain times with serious shortages of some critical raw materials and the additional uncertainty around Brexit. Businesses need to consider opportunities in resource efficiency through lean and six sigma applications, shared economy principles and novel waste stream technology.
“Ideally we want to replace the ‘Take-Make-Dump’ manufacturing systems of the past with circular alternatives before we reach a tipping point in resource availability or environmental damage due to unsustainable activities.”
The conference was organised by SWC through the Connected Project. For further information about Circular Economy support, lean manufacturing techniques or innovation in product or process please do not hesitate to contact Christine Irvine at Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org or Linda Clarke at email@example.com