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Driving business sustainability through improved resource and environmental management

20th October 2011

Ten Belfast based SMEs have identified combined cost savings of over £75,000 and reduced their carbon footprint by 150 tonnes through participation in the Belfast City Council ‘Business Improvements Through Environmental Solutions’ (BITES) programme.

The BITES programme – designed to assist business to improve their competitiveness and sustainability through improved resource usage and management – is funded by Belfast City Council and was delivered by Environmental Consultants and Trainers, Mabbett. The BITES programme is delivered through a combination of workshops, 1-to-1 mentoring and site-visits.  Site visits bring eye-opening benchmarking and good practice awareness to each participant company assisting them to improve their competitiveness and sustainability through improved environmental management and resource efficiency.

In many cases, BITES was the first opportunity for participants to appreciate the costs and quantities of regular outgoings for resources namely: waste, paper, electricity, gas, water and transport.  Many started to see the potential savings opportunities as their monitoring and measurement programmes have revealed their actual costs!

On completion of the BITES programme the participant companies had identified savings of £75,200 and equivalent carbon savings of over 150 tonnes, identified through:

  • diversion of waste from landfill through reduction and recycling.
  • implementation of monitoring and measurement systems to control resource usage and associated environmental impacts.
  • improved environmental awareness across employees.

Belfast City Hall played host to the 2010-11 BITES awards ceremony held on 14 September where participants graduated form the programme and were presented with their ‘IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management’ certificates by the Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile.

Congratulating the participants, he said: “The council’s BITES programme is aimed at encouraging businesses to improve their environmental performance with a view to enhancing profits through greater resource efficiency and business competitiveness. Sustainability is a key issue for industry and ensuring the participation of businesses in delivering a sustainable future is crucially important. I want to congratulate all the participant businesses for committing time and energy to the programme and for their success under the programme.”

At the ceremony North Down Group was presented with the ‘Most Improved Company’ Award sponsored by the delivery consultancy, Mabbett.

Ivan Martin of North Down Group said: “Prior to participating on the BITES Programme, North Down Group were very concerned about the escalating costs of our water, waste, energy and fuel bills.  The BITES Programme enabled the company to take a step back and re-assess our operational costs in these areas.  As a result, we implemented resource saving measures such as improved insulation in our refrigeration plant, installing more energy efficient lighting and significantly increasing our recycling rates”.

2011 has been an award winning year for the BITES programme; BITES won the Best Sustainable Development Initiative at the Local Government Awards in February as well as winning UK-wide award, the ‘Green Apple’ to be presented in November.  BITES was also short-listed as finalist in the Leadership in Sustainable Development Award in the Sustainable Ireland Awards.

If you are interested in participating in the new round of the Programme scheduled to start in January 2012, contact Belfast City Council’s Economic Development Unit on 028 9091 8771 or go to to find out more.