A Leyland-based business is developing a new innovative packaging to reduce beer drinkers’ plastic footprint as a result of participating in a programme run by Lancaster University Management School.
As a manufacturer of folding cartons, Affinity Packaging prides itself on providing the most eco-friendly alternatives and is now exploring a new business opportunity after completing the Low Carbon Innovation Forum - a programme designed for local small and medium sized businesses who want to reduce energy costs and understand more about their carbon footprint.
Chris Dew, Managing Director at Affinity Packaging, previously completed another Lancaster University Management School programme - the Lancashire Forum, which helped set out a plan for growing his business, and when the opportunity arose to participate in the Low Carbon Innovation Forum, it felt like the natural next step. He said: “The networking opportunities the Forum provides is one of its best features. Some of the people on the same intake as me were already using Affinity Packaging materials and our work on the programme has led to some exciting new collaborations.
“One company, a brewery, is being driven by the supermarkets to eliminate single-use plastics on their bottled beer packaging, so we’re working with them to develop a fully sustainable container that does away with the plastic overwrap.
“In addition to new opportunities, the Low Carbon Innovation Forum has really opened my eyes to all the things that needed to be looked at around the factory, and how you go about doing it – including seemingly mundane things like compressors and biomass boilers, as well as getting ahead of the game with charging points for electric vehicles. It was very useful to make contacts on the programme who could come in and help evaluate the next steps for us to get a more energy-efficient site.”
As a result of reviewing his energy usage during the programme, Chris has also applied for a grant from the Chambers of Commerce to put in LED lighting which should have multiple benefits - not only in term of payback, but on the quality of light for employees in the factory.
Angela Moore, the Low Carbon Innovation Forum Programme Manager at Lancaster University Management School, said: "This six month programme was launched back in 2017 by Lancaster University's Centre for Global Eco-Innovation and the Management School to provide opportunity for local SMEs to truly understand what eco-innovation is, and how it can benefit them.
"It has benefited 27 businesses to date and Chris is a recent example of someone who has experienced a career-defining moment while on the programme - and as a result, is pursuing brand new opportunities. Another natural step that many participants take is accepting the offer of postgraduate research from Lancaster University Environment Centre - which Chris is now doing, while he is also helping us as our campus aims to reduce single-use plastics."
The next cohort of participants on the Low Carbon Innovation Forum will start in January and is open for new participants to register. The Low Carbon Innovation Programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and is available to eligible ERDF SMEs. Senior decision makers of local businesses are invited to apply for a place and can contact Jane Hunter on 01524 593632 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. For more information, visit www.lancaster.ac.uk/lums/lowcarboninnovation
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