Category: Business (page 2 of 2)

Join the #SquareMileChallenge!

Today, Hubbub and Simply Cups launch the Square Mile Challenge across the City of London – and as King’s students and staff, you can take part!

Social Media card - 1The aim of the challenge is to recycle half a million paper coffee cups in the month of April. Coffee cups have been getting lots of bad press recently, as seven million of them are thrown away every single day – that’s 4000 a minute! The problem with this mountain of coffee cups is that less than 1% of them are recycled. While they are recyclable in theory, this does not happen in practice. The reason for this is the plastic lining inside the cup, which is almost impossible to separate from the paper. As a result, the coffee cups are either incinerated, or worse, end up in landfill.

So, what can we do about this?

This is where you can help. The Maughan Library will take part in the Square Mile Challenge, which means you will see cup-bins appear. These are specifically for your paper coffee cups. Once full, they are collected by Simply Cups, and taken to specialist recycling facilities. In a unique process of shredding the paper cups and blending them with recycled plastics, a new material is made. This is then turned into a range of things – everything from pencils to park benches. In fact, it only takes 1500 coffee cups to make a park bench!

It does not matter where your coffee cup came from. Starbucks, Pret, Costa, King’s Food – we’ll recycle all of them, as long as they are empty! With exam season fast approaching, we are sure the coffee-drinkers (or tea-drinkers, if that’s more your thing) at the Maughan can help the Square Mile Challenge reach the 500,000 cup goal. We will keep you updated with how many cups we have collected throughout the campaign.

There are five coffee cup bins around the library – two in the Rolls Café, two in the courtyard, and one by reception.

Not at the Maughan? Coffee shops all over the City of London will have special recycling bins throughout April. You can find them here!

If all this talk about 7 million wasted coffee cups made you want to do more than just recycle, it’s worth to bring your own cup. UNSDG #12And not just for the environment – it can save you money too! King’s Food will give you a free hot drink if you buy a KeepCup from them. If you already have one, you get 10p off your drink every time you use it. Starbucks will give you 25p off your drink if you bring your own cup, and Caffe Nero will give you double stamps for your loyalty card.

You can follow what is happening during the Square Mile Challenge by following Hubbub on Twitter, and keeping an eye on the hashtag #SquareMileChallenge.

The UK and the SDGs: A look back at the UKSSD conference

Earlier this month, the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) held their annual conference in London. The theme this year was how to translate the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into actions in the UK.

UNSDG #18The conference started with a keynote speech by Amanda MacKenzie OBE, who highlighted the importance of getting everyone involved. When the SDGs were unveiled, she ran a campaign to get word about them out there. One of the key messages of this was the importance of using simple language everyone understands. This is why she refers to the goals as Global Goals rather than SDGs, claiming the term SDGs “sounds like something you would see your doctor about”. By calling them the Global Goals and making them accessible, we should be able to take millions of small, simple actions, together adding up to significant change.

Prior to the event, key partners of the UKSSD sent an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, asking what the government is doing, and will do, to work towards the SDGs. Lord Bates, Minister of State for the Department for International Development, took to the stage to respond on behalf of the government. He claimed that with Brexit, the SDGs can provide an important framework for the UK to face outwards again.

One aspect that was highlighted several times throughout the day was that the SDGs do not only apply to the developing world. Dr Graham Long from the University of Newcastle did extensive research on how the UK is doing compared to the goals – with the conclusion that there is work to be done within the UK too. For example, many see Goal 1 (No poverty) as only applying to the developing world. However, Dr Long showed that over 15% of households live under what is considered the poverty line in the UK. Similarly Goal 2 (Zero hunger) is not only about the absence of hunger – it is also about the presence of good nutrition.

So how can we achieve the goals and targets associated with them?

UKSSD_RewireSmall

Dr Jake Reynolds presenting his plan to ‘rewire’ the economy

According to Dr Jake Reynolds from CISL, it is all about ‘rewiring’ the economy. At the moment, sustainable businesses face many challenges, and one could argue that the game is tilted against them. We need to change this to a system where sustainable businesses have the advantage. Dr Reynolds presented his 10-task plan to make this happen, calling to the government, business and the financial sector to implement changes.

Talking about how businesses can have an impact and implement changes, another session focussed on leadership within organisations. While we often talk about wanting change to happen, few of us make changes themselves, and even fewer are ready to lead change.

In the afternoon, John Elkington chaired a panel discussing ‘Transforming lives’. One main point from the discussion was the importance of having a positive message. Mike Barry from Marks & Spencer’s Plan A said that to achieve the SDGs, we need to get people excited about them. Trewin Restorick from Hubbub reinforced this, sharing some of the positive and fun campaigns the charity Hubbub has run over the last year. As they are our next-door neighbours at Somerset House, you might have noticed us sharing some of their great ideas (including #BrightFriday and the Square Mile Challenge we will be taking part in). Another idea that was mentioned during this panel debate was that of Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth – if you have followed our Sustainability Week, you might have heard her speak at our successful Overpopulation vs Overconsumption debate.

Overall, the conference gave attending businesses a good insight into why the SDGs matter, both at home and abroad, as well as how they can support them by promoting them in their organisation. As was repeated many times during the conference, we need everyone involved if we want to stand a chance at achieving the SDGs – this includes government, business, and every single one of us.

20161010 Olivia's Personal Blog UNSDGs (photo in blog post)

Fairtrade Fortnight 2017

Fairtrade Fortnight will be taking place between Monday 27th February and Sunday 12th March. This year’s theme is ‘take a break’, encouraging people to take some time out to have a Fairtrade tea or coffee together (perhaps with some Fairtrade chocolate for those with a sweet tooth!).

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The aim of the fortnight period is to raise awareness of the plight of farmers outside of the Fairtrade system, who may be exploited in growing, processing and selling their products. The Fairtrade process aims to ensure people get paid a fair price for what they sell, and that they have safe working conditions. You can test your knowledge and find out more about Fairtrade in this quiz.

Events and Promotions

At King’s we’re supporting Fairtrade Fortnight with special offers on food and drink – including a half price brownie with any hot drink and (for those looking for a healthy option) and a half price banana with any salad purchased. Medsin have organised what promises to be an interesting event “The Flipside of Pancakes: Big Food, Food Systems + Global Health” on 16th March, 6-8pm in the Gordon Museum, Guy’s Campus.

 

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Why is Fairtrade Important?

Low prices paid to farmers can mean:
• They can only afford to feed their families one meal a day. This can lead to health problems for their children such as stunting.
• They can’t afford medical care and put off treatment their families really need.
• They don’t have enough money to send their children to school. Lack of money also means pressure for children to work.
• They can’t afford to invest in better farming. That means they can’t improve the quality of their crops and charge a higher price for them.

Fairtrade exists to change this, but needs more people to know why choosing Fairtrade really matters. We want them to understand that Fairtrade means farmers get a better deal for what they grow. This leads to a better and more stable income, and can help them break the cycle of poverty they are trapped in. But many companies are only buying a fraction of their crops as Fairtrade, and even more companies aren’t buying any Fairtrade at all. Not enough companies are doing it, not enough people are buying it and not enough farmers are benefiting from it. By supporting Fairtrade, you’ll be helping to solve these problems and give farmers a better life for them and their families.

Learn more about Fairtrade here and we hope you enjoy some Fairtrade food and drink over the coming fortnight, and beyond!

King’s hosts global sustainability workshop

Last week saw King’s College London host members of the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes (GCSO).

The GCSO is an organisation made up of 11 world-leading universities, including King’s, aiming to create solutions to global sustainability problems through research, development and capacity building. Combatting climate change and working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals requires innovative new solutions, and universities are often where these solutions are made – by academics and students alike. While each university might be able to drive change locally on its own, coming together to simultaneously implement solutions across the world can take these ideas to the next level.

The GCSO Network of universities

The GCSO Network of universities (Source: GCSO website)

King’s is a founding member of the GCSO and represented through Chris Mottershead, Vice Principal (Research and Innovation) and member of the College Council. This demonstrates the University’s commitment to sustainability, not only through improvement of day-to-day operations, but also at a senior strategic level.

Within the GCSO, several topic groups were set up to develop projects. The group that met at King’s last week is aimed at sustainability solutions related to energy, water and waste, that can be scaled from university campuses to the wider urban and rural environments. Representatives of the following universities were present:

The aim of the three-day workshop was to agree on their first joint project. With each of the universities presenting their own project proposal, the workshop showed the variety of innovative sustainability solutions discussed around the globe.

GCSOMedium

The attendees of the GCSO workshop

Impressed with the quality of all proposals, the attendees of the workshop decided to combine aspects of each to develop a new, joint project – a toolkit to transform university campuses into ‘living labs’. In these living labs, academics, communities and other stakeholders come together to test new ideas and technologies. If the test proves to be successful, it can be replicated elsewhere. Any changes within the ‘living lab’ campuses will be monitored and evaluated using quantitative aand qualitative measures developed at the GCSO institutions. This way, universities can ensure that operations and users of buildings do not experience any negative impacts as a result of the “experiment”.

King’s has agreed to be one of several test sites for the first GCSO project, exploring energy-savings around hot water. If successful, this project could save 3-4% of the university’s annual CO₂ emissions, bringing King’s closer to its 43% reduction by 2020 target. Details on what exactly students and staff can expect from the project will be announced at a later stage, so look out for further information!

UNSDG #17

The GCSO links to SDG 11, 12 and 17

With the first one-year pilot project due to kick off in the next few months, we are hoping that this global collaboration will continue to deliver innovative solutions over the coming years. The workshop saw so many exciting proposals to improve sustainability, it is without doubt that this first GCSO project will not remain the only one.

More information on the GCSO can be found on the organisations website.

The GCSO projects links to UN Sustainable Development Goals 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). More on the Sustainable Development Goals here

A Visit to Veolia’s Recycling Facilities

by Wendela Schim van der Loeff

On Friday morning, the King’s Sustainability Team and its Champions visited Veolia’s Integrated Waste Management Facilities (IWMF) in Southwark. Veolia is our waste contractor who services all of Southwark and many other parts of London. Operating under a circular economy business principle, Veolia seeks to turn waste back into resources that power our homes and industry. Waste to landfill is removed from the waste process and replaced by recycling or energy from waste. In smart societies of the future, Veolia sees production and consumption going hand-in-hand and one person’s waste will become another’s resource. Its aim is to further incorporate sustainable thought into the waste process, where the resources sector can make a realistic 10% contribution to the UK’s 2027 carbon reduction targets, through the decarbonisation of energy and its circular economy.

Veolia_print

The Sustainability Team and Champions at IWMF

 Upon arrival at the Veolia site, the team was given an overview of the waste manager’s practices and operations within the waste and energy sectors, across London. Located in Southwark, this facility is able to process all of Southwark’s household waste and recyclables, helping to significantly improve recycling rates and reduce the impact that the borough’s waste has on the environment. The facility enables Veolia to divert the majority of Southwark’s waste away from landfill and provides energy to local social housing. We got to see the processes our recycles and general waste all go through as well as all the sustainability work Veolia does.

The facility comprises of 5 major areas:

  1. The Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) sorts recyclables collected from households.
  2. The Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility turns black bag waste into a fuel for energy recovery.
  3. The Reuse and Recycling Centre (RRC) supports waste prevention through a variety of reuse schemes.
  4. The Transfer Station (TS) provides a collection point for any materials that cannot be treated on site.
  5. The Recycling Discovery Centre (RDC) offers educational opportunities designed especially for primary school children.

Inside the IWMF. The materials are processed through disc screens, which separates resources.

Inside the IWMF. The materials are processed through disc screens, which separates resources.

 The Southwark treatment facility operates across a number of waste types. At the MRF, waste is split between cardboard, glass, juice cartons and more. 50% of recycled waste is sold to brokers in the UK and the other 50% is sold abroad.

The majority of King’s waste is taken for treatment by Veolia and it manages the majority of waste across London’s boroughs. How can King’s and its staff and students help mitigate waste from landfill and improve the value retained from waste, i.e. the recycling process?

– Those living in residences should be reminded what they can recycle (plastics, cardboard, glass, paper, tins, juice cartons). Batteries, clothing and electrical items can also be recycled at residences, but not in kitchen bins.

– During the sorting process, Veolia cannot take any risks with food contamination. This implies that when a pizza box is still intact and closed, it will not be recycled as there is a significant chance of it containing pizza leftovers. When you recycle your pizza boxes, make sure to flat pack them or take them apart.

– Remember that plastic carrier bags should not go in the recycling bin! They have to be picked out at the Materials Recovery Facility, as they could cause problems by getting stuck in the machinery. Drop them off at the designated plastic bag recycling point at your local supermarket instead.

Veolia_back_print

Reframing the problem to find a solution

Giving passengers free champagne could save railway £5 billion.

by Richard Milburn

The upgrade to the Eurostar services cost £6 billion to shave 30 minutes off the journey to Paris. But was there a better, cheaper way to solve the problem? In the TED talk below, advertising guru Rory Sutherland, suggests there was. For example, for 1% of that cost, free wifi could have been provided, so the journey became an extension of the office, reducing time pressures. Better still, by spending one billion pounds – still saving £5 billion – they could have employed the world’s top supermodels to walk up and down the train giving out free champagne, and (here’s the real irony) people would have asked the train to slow down.

This example highlights a fascinating approach to reframing problems that we face today (it also suggests some other options to put forward in the debate around HS2!) Can we take this ‘Champagne’ approach to sustainability challenges?

Some examples of different approaches already exist. The UK’s 5p bag tax, for example, has led to an 80% reduction in the use of plastic bags. Other initiatives were already in place to incentivise re-using bags; Sainsbury’s gave customers nectar points, for example. Yet it seems it was only when a charge was levied on bags that real change happened. This makes sense from a psychological perspective; we care more about money we might lose than that we might gain.

Overcoming the Cup Menace

Should such an approach be used for card coffee cups? A little known fact is that just 2% of coffee cups are recycled in the UK. Because of the wax lining inside of them, there are only two companies able to recycle them. This is an area where we need rapid change to reduce cup use, so perhaps it is time for a 10p cup tax? This would help to raise awareness about the damage wrought by these cups, change behaviour to encourage more people to carry keep-cups, and raise funds to support charitable initiatives or to enable better cup recycling.

In terms of sustainability messaging, it suggests new approaches are required to encouraging action on climate change. We need to talk more about solutions and solving problems that are tangible to more people. Developing electric cars to reduce poisonous fumes from motor vehicles that are damaging children is an argument that appeals to a wider audience than reducing carbon emissions, for example.

Do you have any ideas for ways to reframe sustainability problems? Let us know in the comments section below.

KCL Sustainability Veolia Trip

Group photo

Jessie Hardcastle, Jo Cassidy, Charles Pegg, Harry Warner, Beth Fuller, Richard Burgess

This Monday a group of King’s College Staff visited Veolia, our waste contractor who services all of Southwark. We got to see the processes our recyclables and general waste all go through (about 20,000KG each week) as well as all the sustainability work Veolia does.

Landfill Waste

If all the recyclables and general waste Veolia received went to landfill that would be the equivalent to 15,000 tonnes of CO2 each year but one of their main accomplishments is their lack of landfill waste. All general waste they receive are transferred to the SELCHPs (South-East London Combined Heat and Power) incinerator and produce heat and power (saving up to 8,000 tonnes of CO2 each year). Similarly other waste this yields has been used to produce steel and limestone to fill mine shafts.

Biodiversity Projects

To support local biodiversity Veolia has several schemes for wildlife. Birds, bats and beetles are all accommodated for with roosting boxes while on the flora end over 100 trees and 10,000 shrubs have been planted. Serum mats also provide an artificial, green roof habitat over the building’s rooftop.

Building Sustainability

The Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility was built with sustainability in mind. 25% of the materials in its construction came were from recycled sources and its rooftop solar panels provide 20% of the buildings energy requirements. Meanwhile grey water is used for car washing and toilets in the resource centre while smart taps limit any fresh water use.

Education

The Veolia plant also does plenty to educate local members of community. They hold regular site tours to those interested but they put notable effort in appealing to primary schools to engage with young children about the importance of recycling properly.

While we can always improve our waste management systems (only a third of what Veolia receives is put in recycling bins) it is good to see our partners at Veolia attempting to improve the sustainability on their end.

veolialogo

Veolia’s Southwark Integrated Waste Facility Tour

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a tour of Veolia’s waste treatment facility. Veolia operates under a ‘circular economy’ business principle, whereby waste to landfill is removed from the waste process, and replaced by recycling or energy from waste. This aims to further incorporate sustainable thought into the waste process, with Veolia stating that adopting this circular economy principle could inject £29 billion (1.8% of GDP) into the UK economy, alongside the creation of an extra 175,000 jobs.

On the day, we were given opening talks by various managers across Veolia’s operations who discussed their practices within the waste and energy sectors. This involved presentations into the innovative solutions that Veolia has adopted, such as recycling street sweepings (e.g. cans/ plastics for general recycling and twigs/leaves for biodegradation). This is done through a process of wet and dry separation, which diverts 85-90 % of street sweepings from landfill.

The materials being processed through disc screens, which separates resources.

The materials being processed through disc screens, which separates resources.

8. Baling hall

The Southwark treatment facility operates across a number of waste types, with 50% of recycled waste sold to brokers in the UK and the other 50% abroad. Waste is split between cardboard, glass, juice cartons and more, showing how value can be derived from waste.

Veolia’s Southwark waste treatment facility is located near Old Kent Road (SE15 1AL) and serves as the main recycling point for the borough at a number of locations across King’s

Veolia’s Southwark waste treatment facility is located near Old Kent Road (SE15 1AL) and serves as the main recycling point for the borough and a number of locations across King’s.

With a large amount of King’s waste taken for treatment by Veolia, how can King’s help to mitigate waste from landfill?

Students in residences should be reminded that they can recycle plastics, cardboard, glass, paper, tins, tetrapak (juice cartons) in recycling bins located in shared kitchens. Batteries, clothing and electrical items (phone chargers, printers etc.) can also be recycled at residences, but not in kitchen bins.

The new bins!

The new bins!


New recycling bins have just been rolled out across Champion Hill residences. Stamford Street Apartments and Great Dover Street Apartments will also be receiving new recycling bins on the 28th September.

If you are unsure about how to recycle any waste, please contact your residence manager or email the Sustainability team at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

A Clash of Titans: The Principal’s Debate on fossil fuel divestment

[This guest post comes courtesy of Justin Fisher, a former Masters student and alumni member of KCL Fossil Free. The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability]

Last Wednesday marked an important day for King’s as President and Principal Ed Byrne hosted his first Principal’s Debate. This was in response to King’s Fossil Free campaign, which has for more than a year been increasing support for its motion asking the College to divest Debate_Pic_1itself from the fossil fuel industries. For those who have not followed the progress of the campaign, it really kicked off in October with the submission of a 1200 signature petition to the university administration. While that number has since increased to over 1400, the university finally declined the divestment option formally in mid-February. However, much to King’s credit, the Principal’s Debate went ahead as scheduled, and it made for a most lively and engaging evening, and further demonstrated the scope of the passionate support for divestment at King’s.

The question at hand was, ‘Is divestment from fossil fuel companies a useful policy tool to bring about action on climate change?’ Representing the College on the ‘no’ side were King’s VP of Research & Innovation Chris Mottershead and King’s Professor of Climate & Culture Mike Hulme. Speakers on the ‘yes’ side included Mark Campanale, co-founder of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, and Mark Horowitz, a PhD candidate in neuroscience at King’s and one of the initiators of King’s divestment campaign. Each speaker was allowed to make their case before fielding questions from the audience and making some final rebuttals.

Chris Mottershead has been in close contact with the campaign for months, and it was to him that the petition was given back in October. Interestingly, Mottershead has spent the majority of his career working for BP, and he has perhaps unsurprisingly been weary of endorsing divestment at King’s. In his remarks he focused attention on the role of governments in owning and controlling the majority of carbon reserves, seemingly trying to make the case that fossil fuel companies are not the ones driving fossil fuel extraction, and the role of consumer demand. He was also careful to focus on the global need for fossil fuels, and reiterated time and again the need for consistency in the ways King’s invests. However, he admitted that he does not believe that King’s has any current investments in renewables. One of the most powerful concessions of the debate came when an audience member bluntly confronted Mottershead with the question of whether his three decades of experience working with BP created a conflict of interest with the divestment question. Mottershead responded that it ‘probably’ did. He also compromised his position when he claimed, late in the debate, that fossil fuel companies don’t actually have much political power, which drew loud jeers from the audience. Clearly the crowd was not buying what Mottershead was selling, though few would deny the importance of government action. Indeed, that is one of the primary aims of the divestment campaign.

Professor Hulme proved a welcome and intriguing addition to the panel. A Nobel-laureate for his work with the IPCC, his experience working with climate change is beyond question, and his academic approach to the topic provided a lot of interesting debate and easily provoked the majority of the questions from the audience. Hulme carefully explained the importance of economic development in the poor world and technological innovation in mitigating the worst impacts of climate change, and continually reiterated that reducing the question of climate change to carbon emissions is an oversimplification. He offered a reminder of the range of challenges brought about by climate change, and explained why he preferred a broad approach with multiple targets. He was also fixated on the semantics of the question, as he reiterated time and again that he did not believe that divestment was a useful policy tool, nor did he believe that it would bring about what he believed to be the necessary range of actions to address the myriad problems posed by a rapidly changing climate. However, when he eventually conceded that divestment may well be a useful tool for social mobilisation, there was a noticeable buzz of excited exasperation from the crowd. Indeed, it seems as though few of Hulme’s points were incompatible with the aims of the fossil free campaign, and he did offer an important reminder of the complexity and diversity of the issue.

Mark Campanale offered a level and analytical approach to the question, which is not surprising given his role in helping to found the Carbon Tracker Initiative. It was Carbon Tracker that first coined the term ‘carbon bubble’ and explained its implications; if the world takes action to limit global warming to below 2°C, in any form, then as much as 80% of Debate_pic_2known carbon reserves will be left in the ground. Given that fossil fuel companies are valued largely on the reserves they hold, these so-called ‘stranded assets’ would rapidly sink such companies and lead to a crisis similar to that when the US housing bubble burst in 2008, only far worse. That bubble was worth a staggering $2.8 trillion. The value of the carbon bubble? An unfathomable $28 trillion. Campanale explained carefully the financial folly in continuing to invest in companies whose future projects are all but guaranteed to lose money, providing a sound financial case for divestment.

Mark Horowitz was the final speaker and he made the most of his time, deftly covering a range of issues from scientific projections of the effects of increased carbon emissions to the advent of grid parity in much of the poor world (where renewable power has become a more affordable option than fossil fuels) to the political obstruction of fossil fuel companies undermining climate regulations. He patiently explained that the position of the campaign is not a radical one; rather, that of companies’ intent on burning far more carbon than is known to be compatible with life on this planet is as radical as it gets. He offered an impassioned and logical approach and against Mottershead and Hulme’s assertions that fossil fuel companies provide a social good, asked at what point does the negative begin to outweigh the positive, bringing about the need for a change in the balance of power? Horowitz asserted that perhaps the decades of experience on the other side of the table had fostered a complacency towards the status quo when what is needed more than ever are fresh perspectives.

The most engaging part of the evening were the audience questions that came after each speaker made their case, some of which have been alluded to above, which lasted for more than an hour. The general mood of the room was encapsulated in an assertion from an audience member that they had no doubt that King’s would eventually divest, and the real question was whether it was going to be a leader or a laggard. Indeed, with other London universities such as SOAS and LSE setting formal processes to work on the question, King’s is already looking more like a follower than a global leader.

The debate ended with Ed Byrne asking the audience to show its support for one side or the other by way of applause. The thunderous racket in support of divestment, accompanied by a visual show of support with audience members holding the Fossil Free logo, boisterously summed up the excited pro-divestment sentiment of the crowd. The debate offered a tremendous platform for both sides to explain their stance, and a lot of genuinely useful dialogue was generated as a result. At the end, though, one could not help leaving feeling as though support for divestment is growing. It was good of King’s to participate in such an event, and we shall now wait and see how well the administration was listening.

First Sustainability Forum 2014: Sustainable Start-ups

King’s students were given great ideas about social enterprises and how to start their own businesses last Thursday at the first Sustainability Forum.DSC_0005 small

The Sustainability Forum, which was held in Pyramid Room of Strand Campus, hosted two talks from Ento and Elephant Branded, a pair of university start-ups that are now innovative businesses based in London.

After a lively introduction about the Fossil Free campaign by Mark Horowitz, Sarah and Olivia opened the forum by explaining who the Sustainability Team are and what they hope the forum will achieve.

Ento (Japanese for insect) were the first to speak and argued that as the world’s population grows and countries become richer, other sources of food will be needed. Insects like grasshoppers and caterpillars could be the solution, as they are a more efficient food source than meat such as beef.

Ento is aiming to make eating insects more appealing to mass audiences by finding new ways to present them as food. They hope to slowly change the culture around insect food and introduce them into our everyday diet. Ento has partnerships with a farm in Spain who breed insects for human consumption, and organised a successful pop-up restaurant in 2013. They also sell products at speciality events and are planning to create a commercial product using crowdfunding.

The next speaker was Tim from Elephant Branded. Elephant Branded was started at university in 2011 and sells accessories hand-made by Cambodian communities using recycled cement bags. For every item Elephant Branded sells, a school bag or stationary kit is given to a needy child in Africa or Asia to help with their studies. In the past year Elephant Branded has snowballed, becoming more recognisable and selling in shops such as John Lewis. All of their profits currently go straight back into the business in order for them to expand the brand, with the founders not yet taking a salary.

Tim gave lots of advice to the students attending the forum, emphasising how important it was for universities students to take risks, especially on business ideas. Tim also stressed the point that Elephant Branded was not a charity, but a business, stating that “The more you make, the more you give away.” This highlighted the importance of financial sustainability: a social enterprise won’t last long without good foundations.

King’s students had lots of tough questions for the two companies, asking Ento about the appeal of their product, and Elephant Branded whether social products could ever challenge big brands. This helped for the discussion session which focused on how business could incorporate sustainability. This led to a livley debate about the nature of business and how monetary practices can be used to encourage certain types of behaviour.DSC_0008 small

Richard Milburn, a PhD student in war studies, who attended the forum said: “It was really good. My opinion is that business is the solution to the world’s problems. At the forum, you get interesting debate and multiple viewpoints. These examples of university start-ups are useful as it is encouraging. It provides inspiration and enables students.”

Sarah and Olivia were both pleased with the first forum, stating that “It was great to see two examples of how to transform a great idea into a practical enterprise, which is really useful for students.”

Overall the event was a great success, and the sustainability team were pleased to see so many students attend and are grateful to both sets of speakers. The next Sustainability Forum will be held in November and addressing the theme of ‘Well being, mental health and green spaces’.

Guest writer: Luke Graham

 

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