Sustain Wales Summit

Rhodri Thomas on why “I’m not buying it” is a statement of power

[:en]We live in a circular system. When we throw something away, it comes right back at us. There is no “away.” Right now, thanks largely to the BBC and the one scientist that everyone listens to – David Attenborough – the world wants to do something about plastic. The focus is on cleaning up what’s already out there but also on eliminating the problem at source. How many environmental problems could be averted by pausing a moment before we buy or commission something? That’ll be long term thinking then? Yes and integration, consultation, involvement and prevention – all the elements of the Sustainability Principle enshrined in Wales’ Well-being of Future Generations Act.

On Thursday June the 7th, The Sustain Wales Summit will focus on the role of procurement in reducing and ultimately eliminating plastic waste.

The leader of Carmarthenshire Council will make an important announcement regarding the authority’s commitment to reducing plastic waste, we will hear from the Volvo Ocean Race about their high profile campaign, Wrap will reveal new research and Ecosurety will explain how market and B2B transactions can make a huge difference to the amount of plastic waste in circulation.

In 2017, the Welsh Government brought together a diverse range of stakeholders to develop the first Marine Litter Action Plan (MLAP) for Wales.

Organisations and stakeholders involved in the MLAP will come together in 2018 to officially form a ‘Clean Seas Wales Partnership’ with the aim of encouraging all sectors in Wales to take action on marine litter issues. The name and identity will be aligned with the global UN Clean Seas campaign where Wales can join the efforts of the many other countries who are taking action under the same banner.

The Marine Litter Action Plan for Wales is a comprehensive attempt to deal with the problem. One simple action that procurement managers and citizens can take to support this plan is to simply say “I’m not buying it.” The world is the way it is because enough of us accept what’s on offer. Any shop manager will tell you that if people don’t buy what you’re offering then you have to change. The power of procurement is largely dormant because none of us think in the long term. Concerned with short term needs, we avoid difficulty and buy the cheapest and most convenient option but just as there is no “away”, there is also no such thing as a free lunch. When we get something cheap and convenient, someone else is picking up the real cost, either down the road, on the other side of the world or in the generations of the future.

It is another fundamental truth of the sustainable development paradigm that people who are secure, empowered, respected and well-resourced are more able to make long term decisions and adopt behaviour that reduces environmental harm. Therefore, as well as looking at plastic waste, the Sustain Wales Summit will also hear about best practice in contract management that opens up new employment opportunities and extends well-being actions along the supply chain and into communities. The activities of Melin Homes for example ensure that “waste” becomes “surplus” for community use and that large contracts are broken up to give opportunities for smaller local companies to compete. The similarities between this sort of approach and the mechanisms at work in robust, diverse and thriving natural ecosystems are highly noteworthy. “Biomimicry” is not just an aspiration for manufacturers and engineers: procurement managers could learn a lot from observing natural systems.

Procurement that is consistent with the Sustainability Principle enshrined in the Well-being of Future Generations Act, will ensure that money and resources circulate more often, delivering greater benefit and enriching local economies, cultures, societies and ecosystems.


Rhodri Thomas is the Principal Sustainability Consultant at Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales. He has a BSc. (Hons.) in Environmental Biology, an MSc. in Environmental Management and a PGCE in Adult Education & Training. Previously, he has worked for Forum for the Future where he was a Senior Sustainability Advisor with public sector clients; for Environment Agency Wales where he supported the executive on public relations and managed the Pride In Our Communities anti-flytipping project in the south west; and The University of Glamorgan where he was a lecturer and researcher in life sciences and sustainable development. For thirteen years he worked freelance in the performing arts as an actor, writer and producer. He worked extensively on radio, theatre, film and TV.[:]

Cardiff promotes sustainability during Volvo Ocean Race

[:en]With less than a week to go until the world’s toughest and most prestigious sailing series arrives in the Welsh capital, Cardiff demonstrates its sustainability credentials ahead of the environmentally-focused event.

Photo by Brian Carlin/Volvo Ocean Race. 09 January, 2018.

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, day 8 on board Turn the Tide on Plastic.

Carrying a strong, clean oceans message on its 45,000 nautical mile voyage across the great seas,the Race campaign highlights the eight million tonnes of plastic which flow into the world’s oceans each year.

As a host port, Cardiff is looking into producing its own sustainability study in line with other global ports such as Hong Kong and Auckland.In the two weeks when the Race Village is open in Cardiff Bay, May 27 – June 10, Cardiff’s very own Eco Lounge will be a key feature, displaying waste from the waters around Cardiff, much of it trapped by the Cardiff Bay Barrage. The waste has then been up-cycled to make funky, functional garden furniture.

Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Cllr Peter Bradbury said:

“In today’s culture it is all too easy to throw things away and buy new, but the Eco Lounge project has shown what can be made rubbish. The items that have been created are of magnificent quality and highlight how much waste and debris is dumped in Cardiff Bay and the surrounding waters.

“The issue of marine plastic pollution is of huge concern and it is commendable that Volvo Ocean Race are using the event’s international platform to highlight the scale of the problem. Cardiff is committed to tackling the issue and recycling projects like this help contribute to getting the message out there, hopefully discouraging people from using our seas and rivers for incorrect waste disposal.”

The Race Village in Cardiff hosts a special Ocean Summit on World Environment Day – June 5, with strong involvement from Sky Ocean Rescue who are driving the plastic free agenda.

The Newport, Rhode Island, US to Cardiff leg of the Volvo Ocean Race leaves port on May 20, and after 3,000 nautical miles, the first vessels are expected to arrive on Sunday 27thfor a 14 day stopover before the fleet moves on to Gothenburg and The Hague for its final at the end of June

To coincide with the Volvo Ocean Race, Cynnal Cymru will be holding the Sustain Wales Summit on 07 June at the Swalec Stadium. The main focus of the event will be on Sustainable Procurement and one of the guest speakers is Meegan Jones, Volvo Ocean Race who will be talking about ‘turning the tide on plastic’.

You can find more details on the Sustain Wales Summit by following the link.[:]

Be bold, be innovative and have fun!

[:en]Last week we hosted the second Sustain Wales Summit in the Principality Stadium and we were wowed by an amazing line up of speakers and organisations that are proof that innovative approaches, products and new business models are really making a difference to business, our communities and our environment in Wales.

The Summit focused on three key themes throughout the day – Connected Communities, Urban Well-being and Buildings for the Future, featuring speakers from Jacobs, Melin, Enterprise, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, Innovate UK, Low Carbon Research Institure, BBC Wales, Constructing Excellence in Wales, Cool-Curve, Caraplace Slate, Principality Stadium and Western Solar.

We started the day with George Ferguson illustrating that political office can be used to give people the permission to be bold, be innovative and crucially to have fun. Risk aversion in the public sector is no longer an option. The time has come for public bodies to learn from and trust entrepreneurs. The vision and commitment of one person or a small group can be transformative. Cool Curve and Carapace, who have been supported by Innovate UK, were excellent examples of this but it is reassuring to know that larger and longer established companies like Dŵr Cymru and Jacobs are also ready to embrace new ideas and take risks.

Here are just a few of the highlights from the day:

Creating Resilient Communities

From Jacobs approach to low carbon technology and smart Living in Neath Port Talbot to Dŵr Cymru’s Rainscape project in Llanelli, we heard inspiring stories of how big organisations are working with local communities to deliver high impact projects. This was a great example of using best practice from around the world to find practical innovative solutions to local issues to improve the resilience of our communities.

We heard how global brands like Enterprise are taking a local community approach to developing alternative mobility solutions, utilising smart technology to encourage behaviour change.


People are central to the story

Lest we think that sustainability is all about technology and the environment Claire Pearce-Crawford from Melin reminded us that people are central to the story.

“If you don’t look after people, don’t expect people to look after the environment!”

Across the board we heard different examples of how core values were at the heart of innovation, building in the needs of people to tackle issues around equality, poverty, well-being and health. Glen Peters from Western Solar illustrated how a values-based approach has led to the creation of sustainable affordable homes that aim to change perceptions of timber built homes and develop an entirely sustainable community.


Making obsolescence obsolete

From the story of how Carapace’s developed a recycled roof slate system to Cool Curve‘s re-manufactured light bulbs. We heard how re-thinking waste into high quality products has multiple benefits for creating a circular economy.

Public Health Wales spoke about their role in promote better health and wellbeing and explained how working collaboratively on the procurement of furniture meant that they were able to create a modern, high quality office environment with only 94% recycled furniture – saving 134 tonnes of CO2.


A case for collaboration

Collaboration emerged as a key theme. Natural ecosystems are living laboratories of sustainability from which we have much to learn. Collaboration, synergy, mutualism, co-operation – these are all core elements to a successful and sustainable ecosystem. Businesses, communities and people must at one time or another, collaborate, communicate and share. This was what characterised the summit – a group of committed, competitive and ambitious people and organisations, coming together to share ideas, start new partnerships and collaborate to create a better world for everyone.

It was also great to hear the latest updates from Darren Crossman, Facilities and Safety Manager of the Principality Stadium who is working collaboratively with other Cynnal Cymru members – Lightology and the Low Carbon Research Institute to implement energy saving measures and the installation of a holistic energy generation system to ensure reliable clean energy for the venue. This fits into a wider aim to become a self-sufficient ‘off grid’ stadium with the capacity to support Cardiff with and the locality with its electrical supply needs. This would be a world first and be an achievement for the Principality Stadium, Cardiff and Wales.


Surprising sustainability stories

One of the more surprising stories to emerge at this year’s Summit was how the production of the BBC’s TV programme Casualty, is housed in a BREEAM outstanding building in Roath Lock in Cardiff and has achieved Albert certification for greener ways of working. The BBC also work collaboratively with their entire supply chain to educate everyone they work with about sustainable practices. Central to the BBC however is their viewers and so the entire organisation aims to demonstrate the need to live more sustainable lifestyles through all their programmes. Find out more here.


Finally a big thank you to all of our sponsors, members and supporters. This vital network is at the heart of everything we do and together we can be bold, innovative and have fun!

As an organisation, Cynnal Cymru is always keen to hear about exciting projects and innovations happening across Wales and we will be calling for applications for the 2017 Sustain Wales Awards from the end of May, so watch this space!


Sustain Wales Summit 2017

[:en]Last week Cynnal Cymru hosted the second Sustain Wales Summit in the Principality Stadium to an audience of businesses and social enterprises passionate about using innovation to develop a low carbon society. The conference was an opportunity for Wales to showcase world leading technology and new opportunities available to make Wales a sustainable nation.

We were honoured to host architect, entrepreneur and first elected Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson CBE as the keynote speaker. Ferguson opened the morning sharing his insights in to how he helped Bristol become the 2015 European Green Capital through innovative schemes across the city which aimed to help reduce emissions and support local communities. Delegates also heard from the Innovation Lead in Innovate UK about the support available for small businesses with new ideas for sustainable technologies or a new business plan.

The conference addressed three themes – Connected Communities sponsored by Enterprise, Urban Wellbeing sponsored by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and Buildings for the Future sponsored by Melin Homes which allowed our speakers to explain how their business or organisation have developed new business models, run new initiatives, introduced new schemes or products all in the name of sustainable development.

The Summit also provided an opportunity for our members and sponsors to exhibit their work to our 100 delegates to inspire others, build new business relationships and talk about the importance of sustainability.

We were honoured to have Jacobs as the main sponsor of the Summit. Director of Sustainability, Alan Hendry spoke about a new project in Neath Port Talbot looking at how the county borough council could achieve the effective implementation of smart/low carbon technologies.

It was great day which demonstrated the broad range of activities being undertaken by global organisations, small start-up social enterprises and sustainability champions which together will help Cynnal Cymru achieve our mission of achieving a more sustainable Wales and society for all.[:]

Innovation Shorts: How Dŵr Cymru are protecting our communities for generations to come

Dŵr Cymru supplies safe and reliable drinking water to over three million customers every day, while taking away waste water to treat, before it can be safely returned to the environment. In providing these services, Dŵr Cymru depends on a huge network of assets, most of which have extremely long lives, meaning that the decisions taken today will have an important impact on customers, the economy and on the environment for many years to come.

Ensuring that the company has a long term plan to ensure they can continue to provide these services and be ready to tackle the challenges of an ever-changing environment is central to their long-term vision, ‘Our Sustainable Future’. This plan, originally published in 2007, outlines Dŵr Cymru’s vision for the next 25 years and how they strive to provide better value for money for customers.

Dŵr Cymru’s unique model not only benefits customers by ensuring all profits and reinvested in the business for the future benefit of customers, but also benefits the wider environment in its car communities. This includes delivering its best ever environmental performance in 2015, thanks to investment at its wastewater treatment works and sewer network. These play an essential role in protecting the environment and improving bathing water quality and the investment helped Wales secure 41 Blue Flags.

‘What does not-for-profit mean?’ via Dwr Cymru Welsh Water

The company is also leading the way in finding sustainable solutions to tackle challenges to environmental performance. With the company now generating around 25% of its energy needs from renewable sources on its various sites, it is also investing:

  • £40 million in a sustainable draining programme – RainScape – in Llanelli and Gowerton which offers an innovative solution to tackle urban flooding and protect local communities.
  • £24 million in transforming Five Fords wastewater treatment workings in Wrexham, North Wales, into an innovative Energy Park – incorporating solar photovoltaic (PV), advanced anaerobic digestion, wind and hydro generation schemes at the sites.
  • Managing 14 hydro turbines at various reservoirs across Wales – worth around @20 million – has doubled the amount of renewable energy generated. These hydro schemes produce 40GWh of energy which is enough to power 9,000 homes.

“We work hard every day to make sure our water and environment is looked after for now, and for years to come. By finding sustainable and better ways of doing things, we can keep our customers’ bills down and put more money back into protecting our communities for generations to come.”

Chris Jones, Chief Executive

Innovation Shorts: How Brother is protecting 36,780 trees through recycling

Brother Industries is a world leading innovator in printer technology and solutions, with its UK operations headed in Manchester. The company has been heralded since 2011 for winning many coveted industry awards is areas such as design, innovation, marketing success, people development and sustainability.

As a world-wide brand, Brother Industries has embraced sustainability by implementing environmental stewardship measures and encouraging behaviour change with its staff to reduce consumption and end waste to landfill; aspiring to maximise positive impacts for local communities, employees, stakeholders and the environment. Brother Industries works under The 5Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Reform, Recycle, which help the company strive for the most innovative, creative and ambitious ways to do more with less and reduce environmental impact (read Brother Industries UK “Community Engagement Report 14/15” here).

The Community Engagement Report highlights many successes through the 14/15 financial year, including a 38% reduction in energy usage in 4 years and reducing its carbon footprint by 18% in the same period. As a printing technology company, Brother Industries UK largest stream of waste is paper use. In just one year the company has slashed its paper use by 32%, saving 132,00 sheets of paper.

Brother’s manufacturing plant based in Ruabon, Wrexham, is an accolade to its environmental objective, where they recycle or reuse 100% of toner cartridges and ink cartridges sent back to the facility. It is an encouraging and innovative new way of doing business, a scheme which is of no cost to customers.

The benefits of recycling are twofold: not only do the returned cartridges help conserve resources, but Brother Industries makes a donation to Cool Earth every time a cartridge is recycled. The donation enables this charity to carry out vital work to safeguard the most threatened rainforests around the world through working with over 100 rainforest communities. Through the 144,446 toner cartridges and 5,353 inkjet cartridges donated and recycled in 14/15, Brother Industries converted this to a donation of £3065 to Cool Earth, enabling the protection of the equivalent of 61 acres of forest (36,780 trees!).

As Brother Industries comes to the end of another financial year, we wait in anticipation for further success stories from their pioneering North Wales factory.


  • Queens Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development 2011-2016
  • Buyers Laboratory’s 2015 Outstanding Achievement for Energy Efficiency Award
  • CIO Tech Company of the Year 2014
  • PC Pro Best Printer Brand 2014: Innovative and reliable products
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Manufacturing Excellence Award: Hexagon Metrology Award for Sustainable Manufacturing 2014
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