SMILE Resource Exchange is a free service for businesses that aims to assist businesses to re-use each other’s materials, by-products and surplus ‘waste’ products in order to reduce waste going to landfill, to increase the life of resources through reuse and thus promoting more sustainable business practises. It also aims to provide a database of materials in a region where businesses can develop new products from materials that would otherwise have become waste. SMILE stands for Saving Money through Industry Links and Exchanges. Potential exchanges are identified through unique networking events, an online exchange facility (www.smileexchange.ie).
Thanks to your continued support we have recently reached 5,000 votes for SMILE Resource Exchange in the European Climate Change Competition. However we have slipped from being in the top 10 of the 269 initiatives to eleventh position.
We are now into the final week for votes. Over the next 7 days we encourage you for your support in voting daily to help SMILE become No.1 in Europe. We are thrilled with the support we have received to date and want to thank you for sticking with us. It would be fantastic for an Irish environmental project to win this award and with just one week remaining in the competition we would really appreciate your vote today and over the coming 7 days if possible. Voting just takes seconds at the following link
Each person can cast ONE VOTE EVERY DAY (one per 24 hours) on each device they have access to, i.e. smart phone, PC, iPad, laptop etc. And it is legitimate to vote once per day on each of the different browsers too, i.e. Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox etc.
What challenge does your project address?
When talking about resource efficiency, waste often tends to be the area that least interests businesses in comparison to energy and water. The latter often being more attractive as associated with being cleaner and solutions are often more obvious. It is estimated that SME’s cause 64% of total industrial pollution and contribute 60-70% of total industrial waste in the EU (Constantinos et Al 2010). 99% of businesses in the EU are SME’s so there is a need to support SME’s to improve waste management practises. Large companies only represent 1% and it seems they have a lot of best practise when it comes to waste management, as they have resources, both human and finance to do so. SME’s are not progressing towards better managed waste practices. However, a recent study suggested that SME’s are well intentioned to engagement with environmental issues, and could be capitalised upon, if systems were in place that would ‘nudge’ them to transform their intentions into actions” (Mitchell et Al 2011). SMILE aims to capitalise on the good intentions of SMEs, by providing a system that makes it easier for them and will “nudge” them, transforming their intentions into actions. Europe has said challenging targets for diversion of waste from landfill and a recent European Framework Directive has placed reuse on the hierarchy of waste as a preferred option to recycling, recovery and landfill and so member states need to support businesses in engaging in reuse
What solution does your project present and why is it unique?
SMILE helps businesses to engage in the concept of reuse. We believe that the active participation and involvement of businesses is not only essential but critical in order to reduce the future impact on the environment. Our unique methodology includes 1) Reframing the message to businesses to be positive rather than an emphasis on legislation – we have a positive brand for SMILE. The project is deliberately not called the Waste Exchange project. 2) Communicating to businesses using a variety of means including both through facilitated networking sessions and online. Facilitated sessions involve bringing businesses together to network because businesses like to network and while we have them in the room we encourage them to talk about resources they have and they might want to see if there are potential synergies. The online allowing businesses to interact in between events and also allowing them to promote their business and also allows them to see who will be at the matchmaking events. We communicate through social media and also through digital media, i.e. telling the story of SMILE and exchanges through animations 3) Collaborating with both social enterprises, business and multi-nationals – we connect businesses to businesses; social enterprises focusing on reuse to businesses and we connect multinationals to SME’s to share best practise within the multinational with the SME and 4) Partnership between enterprise and environment plus government and business.
What is your project’s contribution to fighting climate change and how does it promote climate-friendly behaviour?
SMILE believes that helping SME’s to be more engaged in better waste management and the concept of reuse that this will help the environment through diversion of waste form landfill and all the associated benefits of reduced co2 emissions etc. SMILE places huge emphasis on communicating the concept of reuse as one of the drivers that will help us fight climate change and reduce our impact on the environment. SMILE prides itself in its communication approach by firstly listening to what businesses want, i.e. networking and to promote their business and while offering them what they want at the same time engaging them in a discussion on their waste helping them understand the environmental and social and economic benefits to engaging in such an initiative. SMILE communicates through phone, email, newsletters, social media and more recently in digital media. SMILE has created animations to showcase how SMILE works and indeed smile successful exchange stories acknowledging the growth of digital media and You Tube as a way of getting attention from people. SMILE has also engaged national sporting personalities and the Prime Minister to promote the project to gain credence form business and the general public.
Who benefits from your project and how?
Communities benefit through better awareness and knowledge of the concept of reuse and trough better engagement between businesses and communities in managing waste through social enterprise activities. E.g. SMILE has initiated the setting up of a mattress recycling facility in Cork through identification of a waste stream from hotels and furniture companies and through connection to the Local Authority and Community Group who are now leading on the project development. Businesses benefit from SMILE through engaging in more sustainable business practises. It is positive PR for a company when they engage in more positive environmental practises and also it helps them save money on disposal costs and purchasing costs as they find more sustainable materials through SMILE. The economy benefits through job creation and new business opportunities from turning waste into a resource. SMILE has supported a company Mamukko in accessing resources for their business which is making designer bags out of old sails, offcuts of tarpaulin, used tarpaulin from haulage companies, rubber tubing from bike wheels etc. Society as a whole benefits as improved waste management practises by business sand communities impact both positively on the environmentally, socially and economically. Member States in the EU benefit from receiving best practise from such a model which they could also role out in their country.
What are your achievements so far?
SMILE has become a hub for discussing reuse in Ireland. SMILE has approx. 1000 registered businesses users on the website. 2318 potential exchanges have been identified by SMILE between business and 550 have been directly supported. To date 8 events have been delivered attracting approx. 500 businesses to attend. Approx. 25,721 tonnes of material have been offered at the events representing a potential cost saving of €2m to €2.5 million if diverted from landfill. SMILE has been shortlisted in the Ireland Green Awards in 2012 and 2013 and most recently won the Local Authority members Association Award in 213. Most recently it was presented as best practise model to the European Commissions and was also acknowledged in the most recent Irish Waste Management Policy published in 2012 called !A Resource Opportunity” as a project that should be continued to be supported to promote reuse as a concept to businesses. SMILE has brought together the National Environmental Protection Agency in Ireland, 7 Local Authorities, 12 Enterprise Boards and numerous business associations with the goal of working together to support businesses by polling resources together and thus avoiding duplication. SMILE has partnered with a number of organisations including Rehab Recycling (development of a collection and drop off point for SMILE members in their Eco Village), Multinationals and Social Enterprises to deliver programmes on eth ground in the regions it operates.
SMILE has taken a more unique approach to the management of an environmental project. We focus on communicating with businesses and empowering them to act. Research shows that businesses are more inclined to believe messages from peers. There is also often a knowledge deficit amongst small industries in what it means to make good environmental changes to their practises. Our project (supported by PhD research) sets up a collaboration between multi-nationals, government and sme’s with an emphasis on education, changing perceptions, attitudes and influencing behavioural change in their business. An important aspect of this is the use of information and communication technologies particularly those that lend themselves to participation. Digital Media has been referred to as ‘word of mouth at the speed of light’ and we think the new technology platforms provide a way for this collaboration to interact and participate in the project outcomes. These platforms can allow for online tools (e.g audits), digital storytelling (from one business to another), animations, blogs, vlogs, Ask the Expert forum etc. A key part of this is the area of Corporate Social Responsibility and how multi-nationals can become involved to contribute their own expertise in the environmental area to businesses, primarily in relation to their supply chain but also on a wider business community basis.
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Macroom Environmental Industrial Park