Ackroyd, J., Jespersen, S., Doyle, A. and Phillips, P. S. (2008) A critical appraisal of the UK's largest rural waste minimisation project: business excellence through resource efficiency (betre) rural in East Sussex, England. Resources Conservation and Recycling.52(6), pp. 896-908. 0921-3449.
Ackroyd, J., Jespersen, S., Doyle, A. and Phillips, P. S.
ES betre rural was a groundbreaking waste minimisation project that was designed to meet the diverse needs of businesses in a rural area in East Sussex, England. The project had a strong focus on the smaller sized SME. Of the businesses that signed up and became involved with the project, 83% of the target database businesses were micro (<9 employees), a much higher ratio than previous SME focused projects in East Sussex, reflecting the make up of businesses in the rural area. ES betre rural provided a range of free support and advice over an 18-month period (2005–2006) including: 102 helpline enquires, 23 environmental audits, 5 grants, 4 training events and 4 newsletters. Marketing activities were extremely successful, reaching a target database of 987 rural businesses regularly via newsletters, mailings and presentations at trade association events. As a result 170 (13% of the target database) businesses used the free services on offer. Mailings and newsletters accounted for 52% of recruitment. Excellent links with local trade associations were built up and recruitment by word of mouth accounted for 26% of new businesses signing up for free services. ES betre rural, successfully encouraged businesses to start to take action, with 339 improvement actions identified by 58 businesses. By the end of the project, 48% of savings identified had been achieved and 40% of actions identified had been achieved. The actions identified could result in estimated cost savings of at least £145,572 p.a. In addition, actions taken to prevent pollution and ensure compliance with environmental legislation have the potential to save businesses a further £126,000 in potential fines. The total savings (resource and compliance actions) of £271,572 totalled almost three times the running costs of the project (£100,512). There was a strong correlation between the level of involvement (and hence support received) of a business in the project and the resulting savings. Those with a high involvement achieved higher savings, £945 typically compared to £520 for medium involved. High involvement businesses were more likely to have identified improvement actions—59% of high compared to 19% of medium involved. They were also more likely to have achieved their actions, with 48% of high and only 9% of medium achieving their actions by the end of the project. Businesses typically identified cost savings of £913, which at a 10% profit margin is equivalent to increasing sales by £9000