2013 winners press release

Financial leadership in sustainability recognised at Finance for the Future Awards

The creative force of the finance teams have been celebrated as the lead drivers of sustainability. Winners included a social enterprise which rescued three charities, a business developing one of the largest white goods recycling plants and another implementing research from Cambridge University to create a business project recycling laminate packaging.

All these projects would not have been possible without the leadership and commitment of the finance teams and that is why they were winners of a Finance for the Future Award.

Inspiring New Idea Winner

Enval

Enval was formed in 2006 as a spin out of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge and developed and commercialised recycling processes for laminates that are currently unrecyclable or unrecycled and provide financially lucrative and environmentally beneficial alternatives to landfilling or incineration funded by a consortium drawn from the packaging supply chain.

Their technology treats the waste in such a way that the maximum value can be extracted out of the disposed materials: the aluminium can be recovered clean and ready to sell to the aluminium industry and the plastic is transformed into chemicals that can be used to produce energy or sold as chemical feedstock.

To finance this Enval created the Enval Consortium, a non-competitive consortium comprising organisations drawn from the flexible packaging supply chain, including FMCG brand owners, that have a vested interest in seeing the Enval Process succeed and become a widely used tool in the waste handling industry.

Social Enterprise Winner - Groundworks Pennine Lancashire

Groundwork Pennine Lancashire delivers services including landscape design and build, environmental business support, CSR support, youth work and community wellbeing projects. It was formed from three failing charities in 2007 and now has a turnover of £3.5million and compete with the private sector to deliver their services.

This was possible by the implementation of rigourous financial monitoring and controls, removing the charity culture and grant reliance and turning it into a successful business with £1.3m in reserves. This was achieved through: a complete restructure, a financial recovery strategy, focussing on the private sector for income, a marketing strategy that aligned the company with the private sector and the implementation of ISO standards.

SME Winner – Environcom

Environcom is a waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) processor with the largest specialist facility in the UK with capacity to receive, treat and process a range of WEEE including washing machines, fridges & freezers and small white goods, Environcom’s Grantham WEEE facility has 100,000 tonnes of recycling capacity and its North London re-use facility can recycle 75,000 discarded electrical items each year.

Environcom’s success is essentially a turnaround story. The plant experienced significant disruption due to a major fire in 2007. The investors, shareholders and the finance team worked closely with support from their bank (Clydesdale) to keep the business running, while it was rebuilt. However, the financials of the business were still weak, and so the finance team worked hard with the rest of the operations team to optimise the cash flows and working capital and keep the costs to the minimum. Among other things, the working capital has been reduced from 100 days to less than 30 days.

The Finance for the Future Awards founded by NatWest, ICAEW and HRH The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) were created to celebrate financial leadership that drives long-term sustainable value creation through accounting for sustainability. They focus on the financial drivers of sustainability as a key to embedding long term sustainable practices, and highlight innovation, new ideas and share best practice.

All the winners announced tonight with the judges’ citations are;

Large Business Award
Winner:

Marks & Spencer What had started as a very ambitious, very aspirational strategy, Plan A, is now something that is clearly delivering significant bottom line benefits to the business. Marks and Spencer have used sustainability as a way of innovating the whole business model and it permeates back to all of the commercial decision making.

Highly commended:

Anglian Water

SME Award
Winner:

Environcom. We were so impressed by the rates of reuse they’ve achieved with fridges and washing machines. And certainly, intercepting them before they’re recycled achieves a much better environmental outcome. We were also particularly impressed by the degree to which they’ve managed to align the financial drivers of the business with sustainable outcomes, which is a much more effective way of achieving sustainability than when it still remains a cost on the bottom line.

Highly commended:

Élan Hair Design

Public Sector Award
Winner:

Crossrail Crossrail are not only managing a huge project that’s going to make a difference to London and the way in which many people in London live, but they’re also thinking about the sustainability of the project and the legacy that they’re going to create for the long-term. That they’re going to create a better London, a more sustainable, more liveable London in the future.

Social Enterprise Award
Winner:

Groundwork Pennine Lancashire Groundwork Pennine Lancashire demonstrated a clear ethos and culture for transforming their business with sustainable principles. They acted as a model of good practice for this particular category demonstrating social awareness, economic recovery and environmental principles across the entire organisation that will stand them well in the future. They’ve transformed themselves from a tired public sector organisation into a very focussed, developed modern institution led by an excellent senior team.

Inspiring New Idea Award
Winner:

Enval In terms of Inspiring New Ideas, Enval really stood out. Not only had they invented the technology with which to recycle this previously non-recyclable packaging, they’d also come up with an innovative way of getting the production of the machinery financed by gathering together large and valuable stakeholders. We’re sure that they’ll be able to come up with not only the proof that the machinery works, but also the means of distribution as well.

Highly commended:

Osmosis Investment Management

The entrants had to pass a due diligence check, and were visited on-site by a team of assessors. Finalists were then required to make a formal presentation to the panel of judges, which delved deeper into the changes to the organisation’s business model, its innovation and its plan for creating long term sustainable value.

Commenting on the awards Duncan Sloan, Head of Community Banking at NatWest said,” Whether it's regulatory fines, the cost of customer redress or a dent in reputation - failing to understand environmental and social responsibilities can prove very costly. The best finance leaders know that and make it an important part of their decision making. This year’s winners have all demonstrated very clearly what can be achieved by embedding sustainable plans for the long term into the financial success of their organisations.”

Michael Izza, chief executive, ICAEW and judge said, “The winners and finalists tonight have shown the vibrancy of financial teams who drive the sustainability agenda in their firms and organisations. They have shown that there is a clear business case for using sustainable practices to create long term value and creating innovative resilient business models.”

Said Sarah Nolleth, Project Director, A4S, “Tonight’s winners show the crucial role financial leadership plays in creating resilient, sustainable, business models. A4S is delighted to see organisations responding to overwhelming evidence that sustainability delivers tangible financial benefits.”

Media enquiries:

ICAEW: Deborah McSkimming, ICAEW press office, 020 7920 8679 /07876 035 947  

NatWest: Nigel Owen Head of SME Media, 020 7672 1932

The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S): Bethan Walker, Communications Officer,  

Notes to editors: 

  1. As a world leading professional accountancy body, ICAEW provides leadership and practical support to over 136,000 members in more than 160 countries, working with Government, regulators and industry in order to ensure the highest standards are maintained. Our members provide financial knowledge and guidance based on the highest technical and ethical standards. They are trained to challenge people and organisations to think and act differently, to provide clarity and rigour, and so help create and sustain prosperity. The ICAEW ensures these skills are constantly developed, recognised and valued. Because of us, people can do business with confidence.
  2. The ICAEW is a founding member of the Global Accounting Alliance, which has more than 700,000 members worldwide. 
  3. The RBS Group is a large international banking and financial services company. Headquartered in Edinburgh, the Group operates in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Americas and Asia, serving over 30 million customers.
  4. The Group provides a wide range of products and services to personal, commercial and large corporate and institutional customers through its two principal subsidiaries, The Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest, as well as through a number of other well-known brands including Citizens, Charter One, Ulster Bank, Coutts, Direct Line and Churchill.
  5. NatWest and RBS are the leading bank for SMEs providing banking services to over one million SME customers. We have an extensive geographical reach through our network of 2,279 branches and 118 business centres. Our 3,800 relationship managers are based locally in branches and business centres across Britain. 
  6. Established in 2004 by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, A4S works with businesses, investors, the public sector, accounting bodies, NGOs and academics to develop practical guidance and tools for embedding sustainability into decision-making and reporting processes. The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project has been instrumental in the formation of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC).