Sustainability Master Class Reviews

The Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University is running a new series of its highly acclaimed Master Class to help business decision makers and entrepreneurs explore the growing bioeconomy and the opportunities it offers.

To hear what previous delegates say about our master class and the benefits of attending, see below.

To see a selection of short films about EBRI and the bioeconomy, visit our Films page.

Brian Millington, Our Green Shop Ltd

Based in Bridgnorth, Our Green Shop is a not-for-profit and community owned shop selling zero waste wholefoods, local goods, plant based and organic food, environmental cleaners and household products. The shop promotes local sustainability using minimal packaging to reduce waste and offer a low-impact local delivery service. For more information please visit www.ourgreenshop.co.uk

The EBRI Master Class helped Brian to really understand the sustainable business sector, where Our Green Shop fits within the network of sustainable businesses, and how they can benefit from those connections.

Campbell Scott, AtomicTractor Ltd

Based in Coventry, AtomicTractor specialise in low carbon solutions for tractors and are taking the next steps in commercialising low carbon tractors for global agriculture.

Campbell believes that sustainability is important for all of us in every role that we play in life, and that we need to be looking at sustainable practices and methods of production. He hopes that tractors can be produced for an agricultural system that can produce food sustainably.

He really enjoyed the presentations from specialists at the EBRI Master Class and the opportunity to learn first hand from experts in the subject.

Clive Gurney, Gurney & Sons

Gurney & Sons is a farming company involved in crop production and energy production, and they also have a 1,000 cow unit under their management. They have been looking into improving their self-generated energy, for example using AD plants, photovoltaic, and ground source heating.

The Master Class has given Clive insight into developments in the industry, potential ways of improving their business, and the opportunity to network with other interested parties. Clive felt that the class surpassed his expectations and that he would be thinking about what he had learnt for quite some time.

Comfort Tevera, Savannah Environmental Consultancy Ltd

Savannah Environmental are a consultancy in Solihull providing specialist environmental support and advice. They help businesses move towards net zero and provide services such as environmental permit applications, impact assessments and ISO 14001 implementation.

Comfort found that the Master Class allowed her to hear the environmental challenges that other businesses were experiencing, and see where Savannah Environmental can offer their support and expertise to drive industry in the right direction.

Martin Shenton, Farm Black Magic Ltd

Farm Black Magic are a start-up company setting up a biochar unit in Rutland.

Martin attended the Master Class to discover other examples of the technology being used in different ways and to add to their knowledge base. He found the class was a catalyst both for gaining knowledge and for networking with people going through a similar process.

Debbie Murphy, Missfit Creations

Missfit Creations is a vintage clothing restorer and sustainable fashion designer based in Tamworth. The company’s founder Debbie is a dressmaker, using traditional tailoring and her experience of costume design and clothing alteration to breathe new life into old clothes. To keep a sustainable ethic, Debbie has developed a range of recycled and reworked clothing to try and maintain a zero waste policy – see www.missfitcreations.com

Debbie found the Master Class really useful, as it introduced her to some new topics and was a great way to network with some interesting businesses.

Nigel Saunders, Webb Hotel Group

The Webb Hotel Group is a collection of family-owned and run properties in Staffordshire, West Midlands and Gloucestershire. Sustainability is important to the Group, and in the past few years they have installed biomass boilers at three of their hotels and solar panels at two of their properties. They have found that recycling waste is the biggest sustainability challenge that they face.

Nigel attended the Master Class in order to enhance his knowledge and look at where the group could go in the future regarding sustainability. He found that the Master Class was very enlightening and provided much food for thought.

Sarah Battye, Liberation Coffee Ltd

Liberation Coffee is a start-up providing coffee van services for events such as concerts, cinema screenings and wedding fairs. Sarah wants to start up in as eco-friendly a way as possible and is interested about how to make the most out of sustainable opportunities such as biodiesel and used coffee grounds.

She found the Master Class helpful, inspiring, and thought it was brilliant to meet other like-minded businesses who care about sustainability.

Stuart Austin, Carbiome Ltd

Carbiome Ltd’s mission is to develop a network of biodiversity facilities that demonstrate effective solutions for reducing wildfire risk, using pyrolysis technology.

At the Master Class, Stuart found it exciting to hear about practical sustainable applications that can be used now, not just in the future, and he met some very interesting people from a variety of different backgrounds.

Tony Brachmanski, Aligned Certification Ltd

Based in Wolverhampton, Aligned Certification Ltd is a professional certification body providing ISO certifications across a broad range of industries. Part of the services offered includes assessing companies for ISO 14001 Environmental Certification, and helping companies improve their efficiency and the environment they’re working within.

Tony found the information from the Master Class to be really helpful and practical for keeping up to date with the latest trends and information – which he can pass on to colleagues and clients.

Beate Pesian, Worksmith Ltd

Worksmith Ltd are a recruitment company based in Walsall and specialise in the sustainability, IT, and executive search sectors.

Beate considers sustainability to be important to the business and wants to find out what more they could do in this area. She found the EBRI Master Class to be encouraging and engaging, and enjoyed the opportunity to network with other companies interested in sustainability.

Charlotte Smith, Caradoc Charcoal Ltd

Caradoc Charcoal produce sustainably and responsibly sourced British charcoal in Shropshire. They have found that people now want to shop more sustainably and are willing to pay a bit more for something they know is local.

EBRI offered Caradoc the chance to get their charcoal tested, and the results backed up what they were aiming to do – create a charcoal product with a clean burn. EBRI have also helped them test a product made from a residual material – Biochar. Charlotte says it is amazing what EBRI have been able to do for them, and would recommend EBRI’s brilliant team.

Eleanor Stradling, Zero Waste in a Box Ltd

Zero Waste in a Box are a Shropshire based company who provide circular waste systems, primarily at food festivals. Customers’ and vendors’ waste is gathered, sorted and sent off to be recycled. Difficult to recycle waste, such as used sunflower oil, can also be collected and sold.

They are involved with a project in Newtown, Shropshire that aims to change the way people think about their waste, such as how it can be repurposed into a new product for sale. Eleanor learnt a lot from the EBRI Master Class and enjoyed the variety of different businesses that attended.

Maddie Booth, Scrubbee Ltd

Scrubbee is a sustainable skincare start-up based in Birmingham that focuses on taking by-products from the food and drink industry and upcycling them into affordable skincare products.

Having started by using upcycled coffee grounds, they are now looking at what other by-products could be repurposed, including from the beer and wine industries. Maddie found the EBRI Master Class helpful for discovering potential new by-products to use in the Scrubbee range.

Philip Jones, Work Horizons / Achaleon

Achaleon provide marketing support services to small technology businesses. Philip feels it is time to not just help technology companies, but companies who want to use technology to improve the environment and be sustainable.

At the EBRI Master Class he discovered useful new ways of looking at environmental technologies and sustainability.

Steve Davies, Living Space Housing Ltd

Living Space Housing is an affordable housing developer based in Solihull. Steve feels that sustainability is something that appeals to both their staff and client base. Improving the energy performance of their housing is a key consideration to make sure they require less energy to run and help lift residents out of fuel poverty.

Steve jumped on the opportunity to attend the EBRI Master Class as a chance to meet like-minded people and learn new things in a structured environment.

Steve Last, IPPTS Associates

IPPTS Associates provide assistance in environmental and waste management. Steve takes an interest in anaerobic digestion and this is one area he is keen to help people with.

He found that the EBRI Master Class stimulated a lot of thought and was very pleased to have attended.

Bevil Williams, RE-PC Ltd

RE-PC Ltd are a West Bromwich based business specialising in the re-purposing of electronic equipment. They provide a compliant service to large companies and organisations for the de-commissioning of old IT equipment.

RE-PC are big believers in the circular economy and aim to re-purpose as much of the old equipment as possible – primarily into local communities to help address digital poverty. Following discussions with EBRI experts and delegates at the EBRI Master Class, Bevil feels they are in a good position to move their sustainability agenda along.

Cassandra Kirk, Sweetmeat Inc. Ltd

Based in Stirchley in south Birmingham, Sweetmeat Inc. is a producer of fudge and other confectionery. When it came to packaging, Cassandra considered it a no brainer to go down the sustainable route right from the start. She believes being plastic free has bolstered her business credentials.

Cassandra had already been looking into low carbon funding opportunities, and attending the EBRI Master Class has also opened her eyes to a wider range of available technologies.

Jon Wellman, Social Value Works UK

Social Value Works aims to help build stronger communities and promote corporate social responsibility by building relationships between the private sector and the social enterprise sector.

Jon is interested about how sustainability fits into the bigger picture, and found that interacting with other delegates from a range of backgrounds was a really useful aspect of the EBRI Master Class.

Lesley Powell, Landmark Associates Ltd

Landmark Associates are a Staffordshire based grower of miscanthus grass for biofuel feedstock.

Lesley came away from the EBRI Master Class feeling a lot more positive about the future for her grandchildren, as she found that all the delegates in the room were enthusiastic to talk and help each other become more sustainable.

Mark Winnington, Woodside Farm

Woodside Farm are a grower of miscanthus grass in Staffordshire. Miscanthus crops lock in a large volume of carbon per hectare, and Woodside Farm use no fertiliser or chemicals in the growing process before the crop is sent away for use in power generation.

Mark is looking to find other alternative uses for the miscanthus crop, and believes that guidance from academia and universities will be key to helping himself and others improve their sustainability.

Nigel Ryan, EVC Solutions Ltd

EVC Solutions are a Stafford based installer of electric vehicle charge points for SMEs. Being part of the electric vehicle business, Nigel says it is important that they really understand sustainability and run the business with this as their number one priority.

Nigel aims for their entire value chain and operations to have sustainability in mind, and found that the EBRI Master Class enabled a broader view of sustainability beyond battery power and electric vehicles.

Will Vaughan, Pedicargo

Based in Hereford, Pedicargo provide pedal powered pedicab hire for parcel delivery, waste recycling, and infrastructure solutions. Will believes that as an organisation, Pedicargo can lead from the front regarding sustainability and that there is no other choice anymore, we have to start being sustainable.

Pedicargo are developing new machinery, processing waste themselves, and developing new resources – but are now at the point where they need extra help to achieve sustainability goals. The EBRI Master Class has given Will the opportunity to discover technical support available through EBRI to help Pedicargo achieve their goals.