Guardian Sustainable Business Awards announces winners

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15 May 2015

LONDON: The Pulitzer-winner newspaper Guardian has just announced the winners of its Guardian Sustainable Business Awards, now in its fifth annual edition. The important prize spotlights once again how business and sustainability are closely connected.

From young start-ups to big corporations such IKEA, innovators entered into the Awards contest show how green business is good business. Divided into different categories ranging from communicating sustainability to social impact, the winners have been awarded for their low carbon efforts.

Our CEO Mark Kenber was part of the judging panel that reviewed the projects. “This award is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate and show to the world how businesses are at the core of the clean revolution,” he said. “The clean economy and business opportunity are two sides of the same coin: study after study have shown the underlying strength and growth in the sector.”

Economic sense

Arthur Kay, the young founder and CEO of award-winning Bio-bean, has been awarded Guardian sustainable business leader of the year. Last year, the 24-year-old former student also won €500,000 (US$568,000) in the Postcode Lottery’s Green Challenge. “The circular economy, the sharing economy, the green economy: these are all subsets on an ultra-efficient urban industrial supply chain,” he says.

His company uses a patented process to upcycle waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuel products, extracting the oil contained in the waste and turning the rest into bio-mass pellets. “Our facility has the capacity to process 50,000 tons of waste coffee grounds each year,” he adds, “and we’re looking to build a new plant in the not too distant future”.

The impact of this initiative could be massive, with an estimated yearly production of 1.3 million liters of advanced biodiesel and 1.2 million tons of biomass pellets.

Image: This year’s trophies featured air plants, a living reminder of award winners’ achievements. Photograph: Alicia Canter

IKEA was the innovation winner in the “Net positive” category, with judges praising its aim to go beyond minimizing harm and actively creating good. The Swedish company is very active in the renewables sector, being a founder of our project RE100.

Convened with CDP, the project encourages 100 of the world’s largest businesses to commit to 100% renewable power by 2020 – while highlighting the economic benefits of delivering a better, healthier and more sustainable world.

Investing in renewable power makes complete business sense. It aligns with our corporate expectations on financial returns and our values,” Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group, said last year during Climate Week NYC. “So far, we have generated 1,425 gigawatt-hour of power from renewable sources. We plan to invest approximately €1.5 billion in new renewable energy projects to meet 100% goal by 2020 goal – and RE100 is a great way to tell our story.”

Last year, IKEA bought its biggest ever wind farm and announced plans to invest US$2 billion in renewables by end of 2015 – and in the last financial year, it sold more than €1 billion (US$1.36 billion) sustainable products.

Thanks to IKEA’s sustainable strategy, the company has cut energy use by 15% since 2010 through efficiencies in stores and warehouses – saving €40 million (US$45.7 million).

Change doesn’t happen overnight or without forward planning,” underlines the Guardian. “These annual awards showcase the people and projects who are helping businesses shine and achieve for people, planet and profit.”

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