A university-led innovation programme puts 30 Liverpool city region firms on track to significantly cut their carbon emissions. Tony McDonough reports
30 Liverpool city region firms are slashing their carbon emissions after joining an R&D programme.
Eco-I North West is led by six universities – Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Cumbria and Manchester Metropolitan. Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the project was launched in 2020.
It is currently working with more than 180 North West businesses. A total of 135 new innovations are on track to remove 3,850 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. 30 Liverpool city region SMEs are among the current crop. With a year to run, the three-year programme is aiming to help a total of 369 businesses.
They include Radwraps, based in Birkdale near Southport. It produces recyclable, antibacterial coated clinical poster systems as an alternative to harmful plastic laminating sheets.
The firm worked with Liverpool John Moores through Eco-I NW on a project to illustrate the impact the solution could have on the NHS. It discovered switching from its current process would save almost 250 tonnes of CO2 per year and more than 1m hours.
Radwraps director James Maddocks said: “Plastic laminating sheets are extremely bad for the environment. Paper and plastic are both recyclable in their own form. Combining the two creates a landfill only option at end of use, slowly degrading over hundreds of years polluting our wildlife, waterways and children.
“From start to finish Eco-I NW has been fantastic, from initial research through to end use case of the numbers, modelling and forecasting potentials with guidance and advice throughout.”
Eco-I NW is now looking to connect with the next wave of businesses. It offers access to fully-funded interns from a pool of students across the six universities. And it offers match-funded postgraduate researchers for more long term projects as well as capital grants to fund prototypes, pilots and demonstration systems.
Andy Pickard, manager of Eco-I NW and the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, said: “These first two years of the Eco-I NW programme have been extremely challenging in view of the pandemic. This highlights the incredible achievement that we have managed to support 180 businesses to lead the region’s transition towards a low carbon economy.
“The North West has the knowledge, people and industry to be world-leading in the transition to a better economy which is sensitive also to the needs of the environment.
And with more than 560,000 SMEs in the region, the opportunity for this crucial collective to create green growth is immense.