Who are the top 32 sustainable businesses to look out for in 2021?
Business Leader has put together a list of 32 individuals and their businesses that are set to lead the UK into the future through sustainable innovation and a focus on the ‘green economy’.
How have the top 32 been chosen?
Whether they are already established or are a disruptive entity, these are the names to look out for to lead the ‘green revolution’.
The men and women listed below have been suggested by our readers, however, if you feel there are other individuals that are deserving, please email email@example.com, and they will be included in the list below.
This list is in no particular order.
Jo-Jo Hubbard & Paul Ellis
Electron was founded in 2015 on the belief that energy systems of the future would need digitally optimised marketplaces, rather than large scale new generation capacity, in order to deliver net zero in a cost efficient and resilient way. By combining the founders’ knowledge of energy markets and experience in building digital trading platforms, Electron set out to meet this requirement, working collaboratively with existing and emerging market participants to create the first digital energy marketplace.
The insurance provider for new businesses and start-ups is the country’s only carbon positive insurance company. ETR uses data analytics to update insurance in real-time and plants a tree for every policy issued. In the next 12 months ETR aims to plant 2,500 trees from a combination of policy sales and staff contributions. If this goal is achieved, this will mean the company will have contributed towards the offset of 3,645 tonnes of CO2. This is the equivalent of 10,625 sqm of sea ice, over 9,000,000 miles driven in a car and 2500 long haul flights.
The handmade cosmetics brand, that is an ever-present store in shopping districts across the UK, has long been a pioneer of the ‘green revolution’. Whether it is the oils they use, the packaging for the products, the origin of the raw materials, how they manage water waste or the way the company recycles, they have led the way in sustainability in their sector.
Karen Boswell OBE
The boiler manufacturer has promised to revolutionise the way we heat our homes and buildings. Boswell, the recently appointed Managing Director, has committed to a portfolio of cleaner, greener products, that will work with low carbon fuels by 2025, either directly such as hydrogen boilers, heat pumps, smart electric water heating and heat networks or hydrogen ready boilers than can be converted after installation. Heating is responsible for 37% of the UK’s total contribution to greenhouse gases today. To tackle that figure and decarbonise existing homes by 2050, all new heating installations must be low carbon by 2035.
Galahad & Asher Clark
Founded in 2012 by two seventh-generation cobblers, Galahad and Asher Clark, Vivobarefoot is based on one simple insight – barefoot footwear is sustainable footwear. As well as having ‘green’ at the heart of their own products, which are made from natural, biosynthetic, and recycled material products of super minimalist design – the company also runs ReVivo, the world’s first eCommerce marketplace for refurbished and repaired barefoot shoes.
Scott Mac Meekin
Circular Computing gives businesses and individuals an easy way of buying leading brand, sustainable, carbon-neutral, enterprise-grade laptops. Extending the product life of corporate IT is an easy way for large business to improve corporate sustainability, be socially responsible, improve their bottom line and aid the transition to a circular economy. Rather than using raw materials to build a laptop, they remanufacture them from scratch after disassembling, repairing, and upgrading existing parts.
Ben Crowther, Charlie Guy & Jack Farmer
LettUs Grow was founded in 2015 to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing the world today. Its novel technology represents a step-change for indoor farms as they design modular, aeroponic irrigation and intelligent control technology to improve the efficiency, sustainability, and ROI of indoor farming. The systems are nozzle-free, easy to clean, completely automatable and can be run without the need for pesticides.
Jo & Guy Schanschieff
One of the top 25 fastest growing companies in the UK, Bambino Mio was founded in 1997 by the husband and wife team and creates stylish and affordable reusable baby products. The company has now expanded internationally, is stocked in supermarkets across the UK and is a popular seller on Amazon. The firm manufactures the products responsibly and their range are designed to last – and are part of the company’s three pillars – reduce, reuse, repurpose.
Founded in 2002 by Managing Director Honcoop, whose family heritage was in the waste and recycling industry, has grown the business to become one of the UK’s fastest growing companies. The company initially traded in packaging recovery notes, the evidence of recycling needed by packaging producers to comply with regulations, but has expanded its operations and now offers environmental compliance schemes, scrap battery collection and converting waste into fuel programmes.
ZPN Energy Limited
ZPN is a fast-growing EnTech provider that designs, develops, and produces infrastructure technologies to win the fight against climate change. It has developed innovative smart green energy solutions for a variety of applications, including ultra-rapid chargers for electric vehicles. ZPN owns a unique intellectual property portfolio within its integrated energy management systems. The technology utilises a disruptive approach, turning the standard grid into a ‘Smart Grid’ by making use of Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning to integrate data and physical assets.
Exponentially growing Scottish firm, Vegware, has been manufacturing eco-friendly containers and kitchen products since 2006. All its products are made from plants using renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials – and are commercially compostable with food waste. The company now has a product range of more than 300 items and is distributing to more than 70 countries – last year they achieved a turnover of £45.9m.
At Unpackaged, they helped pioneer the zero-waste retail business model, which is now a global trend. The firm has developed a self-service weighing scale, where people can bring their own Tupperware to the store and fill up on their daily food items and ingredients with. They also can provide re-useable jars/tubs, if needed. This eco-initiative began in the South West but has become popular across London.
Tessa Clarke & Saasha Celestial-One
OLIO connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away. For your convenience, OLIO can also be used for non-food household items too. To make an item available, simply open their app, add a photo, description, and when and where the item is available for pick-up.
Rowan Minkley & Robert Nicoll
Chip[s] Board is dedicated to developing food waste into bio-plastics and bio-plastic composites for the ever-changing design sectors – however, their items are completely bio-degradable and recyclable. The company was founded around the values of a circular economy, combining research and innovation to maximise the abundant resources not currently being utilised and improve the well-being of the planet.
Chris Retzler & Cameron McNatt
At the forefront of global wave energy, Mocean Energy leads the drive to accelerate the essential transition to secure the world’s renewable energy supply. The firm combines scientific principles with real-world experience to deliver new technologies which can harness the power of waves. They developed Blue Horizon, designed to generate grid-scale electricity, and Blue Star, a smaller machine which will power a range of subsea equipment, inspection, and maintenance systems.
Founded in 2009, Pavegen’s technology converts footsteps into electricity through its innovative technology. The company has expanded into more than 30 countries around the world and recently Pavegen installations included smart city developments, retail destinations, sports stadiums and educational institutions in Hong Kong, India, Korea, Thailand, UAE, America, and the UK. So far, the company has completed more than 200 projects for firms such as BNP Paribas, Siemens, and Transport for London (TfL).
James Butterfield & Tim Bouscarle
The reusable water bottle firm has become a prominent leader of the sustainable revolution in recent years and has consistently been recognised as one of the fastest growing companies in the UK. Founded in 2010 with the aim of providing people with the ability to always have cold water on-the-go, without having to buy single-use plastic water bottles. The result was the Chilly’s Bottle. A modern and stylish product designed to combine the convenience of a plastic water bottle, with the high-performance technology and eco-friendly benefits of a traditional flask. They have now expanded the range to include a wider selection of reusable products.
Christian Kroll & Sophie Dembinski
‘The search engine that plants trees’ is the world’s leading green alternative to Google. Ecosia uses the ad revenue from peoples searches to help sustainable causes across the world. The firm donates 80% of its profits to non-profits that help tackle deforestation. At the end of 2020, the company had 15 million active users and had planted more than 118 million trees, with aims of increasing.
This innovative brewery uses surplus bread to replace the virgin barley in the process of making beers. So far, more than 1.9 million pieces of bread have been saved from waste – reducing the demand for land, water, and energy, as well as avoiding extra carbon emissions in the process of creating their range of drinks. So far, more than 42 tons of C02 emissions have been saved. The company also donates all of its profits to charity.
Skipping Rocks Lab/Notpla
Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez
As the world looks for plastic alternatives, one of the brands leading the way is Notpla – a packaging solutions firm that manufactures a material made from seaweed and plants that biodegrades a few weeks after use. After their first product Ooho went viral in 2013, they joined Climate KIC, Europe’s largest funded accelerator focused on climate innovation. In 2017, they raised their first round on Crowdcube, which helped grow the business, and set up a manufacturing hub in London.
Hayden Wood & Amit Gudka
Bulb is the UK’s biggest green energy supplier, and it supplies its members with 100% renewable electricity. For every unit that customers use, they make sure a unit is produced and put on the grid by a renewable source including solar, wind and hydro. Their gas is 100% carbon neutral and they offset the emissions from the gas they supply by supporting carbon reduction projects around the world. Bulb are also the biggest buyer of green gas for homes in the UK.
Matthew Jellicoe & Ed Stevens
The recently founded sustainably driven investment house has launched a specialist sustainability EIS Fund to invest in businesses tackling climate change. The OnePlanetCapital fund is broad-based and targets investments that will have a positive environmental impact, aiming to deliver market rate returns and support the emerging green economy. It will focus on three interrelated areas; climate change, the environment and consumer sustainability.
Dr Enass Abo-Hamed
H2GO Power is a pioneering cleantech company that develops and delivers hydrogen energy storage technology for zero-emission, safe and reliable power supply, within a range of commercial applications. Their tech revolves around its patent-pending reactor that works by storing hydrogen in solid-state with the release of hydrogen on-demand. The firm is set to launch its crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube imminently.
Ripple is a clean energy ownership platform. It enables people to part own large scale wind farms and solar parks and have the low cost, green electricity they produce supplied to their home, via the grid by Ripple’s supply partners. Ripple has partnered with Co-op Energy, powered by Octopus Energy for its first wind farm. Part-owning a wind farm is around 65% cheaper than rooftop solar panels and can reduce electricity bills by around 25% over the wind farm’s lifetime.
Jordan Brompton & Lee Sutton
My Energi is an award-winning designer and manufacturer of renewable energy products that increase the self-consumption of green energy. The firm supply tens of thousands of homes and businesses globally with renewable energy products and smart devices. They not only support the National Grid, but give the user the power to control a building’s flow of energy. Products include EV chargers, solar power converters and energy harvesting wireless sensors.
We Are TALA
TALA is a leader in the ‘slow-fashion approach’, and specializes in affordable gym wear that is sustainable and vegan-friendly. Beverley originally created vegan and environmentally-friendly resistance brands, which became very popular with health enthusiasts – so they expanded their product range. All clothes are resourced from 92% recycled materials. Beverley started as a fitness ‘YouTuber’, so has a loyal millennial and Gen-Z customer base.
At Kabloom, they manufacture innovative and environmentally-friendly products that help transform disused urban districts into green areas. Wilson designed ‘Seedbombs’, which are grenade-shaped flower seed ‘bombs’ that can easily grow. Through this fun alternative to city gardening, cityscapes can now be reclaimed by local wildlife and insects. The firm has become increasingly popular and has expanded its product range to help certain animals and environments across the UK.
The sustainable jeweller creates high-end products that are crafted from salvaged gold and silver, recycled from electronic waste, dental waste, and the company’s in-house scrap exchange. Walter was classically trained as a goldsmith, and has used that experience to help drive change in her industry. Lylie’s uses the same craftspeople that help create some of the UK’s leading jewellery.
MacRebur’s mission is to help solve the waste plastic epidemic and the poor quality of roads people drive on around the world today. The firm’s innovative solution involves processing waste plastics destined for landfill or incineration and adding them into asphalt for road construction and surfacing, to extend and enhance the bitumen (fossil fuel) binder. After years of tests and trials all over the world, MacRebur now promote three waste plastic additives into asphalt.
Small Robot Company
Ben Scott-Robinson & Sam Watson-Jones
Small Robot Company is reimagining farming with robotics and artificial intelligence. The company’s farmbots – named Tom, Dick, and Harry – will plant, feed, and weed arable crops autonomously, with minimal waste. Today’s farm machinery has been designed to be as fast as possible. The farm machinery of the future will be designed to be as accurate as possible. With small robots, farmers need 90% less energy to establish crop.
Michael Lowe, Andrew Sucis & Nikolai Tauber
Sunswap is developing zero-emission transport refrigeration technology that uses solar power and adaptive battery capacity to provide a clean and cost-competitive solution. Co-founded by a team with a passion for developing innovative technology to solve real-world problems, the Sunswap team are specialists in deploying zero-emission products in the cold chain, and are at the forefront of creating the next generation of transport refrigeration.