This year Co-operative Development Scotland is supporting the VIBES Collaboration Award which recognises businesses that have worked together in order to reduce their carbon footprint. With this year’s shortlist now revealed, one of our specialist advisors Liz McCutcheon talks about her experience of being one of the guest judges on the VIBES panel.

Earlier this year we released a report outlining the potential for companies to help achieve the Scottish Government’s 2020 energy reduction targets by working more closely together. The ‘Collaboration Cuts Carbon’ report outlined how effective partnerships between companies can help Scotland achieve its target to cut CO2 emissions by 42 per cent by 2020.

It’s for this reason that CDS has become an active partner of this year’s Vision in Business for the Environment of Scotland (VIBES) awards.

Now in its thirteenth year, the VIBES Awards aim to encourage efficient use of resources, enhance the competiveness of a business, improve environmental performance and support the wider goals of sustainable development. 

VIBES is open to any Scottish business that contributes to sustainable development. All shortlisted candidates receive a site visit from relevant experts and specialists in the award category field. There are nine award categories this year and I was asked to visit some of the companies that made the shortlist of the VIBES Collaboration Award.

The Collaboration Award recognises organisations that contribute to the economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainable development through a collaborative or partnership approach. As a VIBES judge this year, I was on the hunt for Scottish companies that could demonstrate progress on environmental and sustainability issues.

I visited the four companies that made this year’s shortlist and my overall experience of judging was not only the scope of diversity in collaboration but also how interesting it was to see how much each of them had learnt about the benefits of working together.

The Scotch Whisky Association recognised that collaboration adds weight when influencing supply chain behaviour. In addition, Kingdom Housing Association determined that collaboration on a specific project involving testing sustainable housing methods was significant due to the numerous amounts of partners involved. Furthermore, wider community collaboration was demonstrated by involving local schools and colleges in various aspects of design, photography and apprenticeships.

Another good model for collaboration was displayed by Carrylift Fork Lift Trucks and the Woodlands Trust. The collaboration was created due to Carrylift’s desire to offer customers the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint. Carrylift funded tree planting through the Woodlands Trust with the promise of planting one tree for every forklift sold demonstrating a great process towards environmental sustainability.

From a different angle, when judging the partnership between Forest Carbon and the Green Insurance Company we found that the two organisations had created an incredibly positive environmental benefit through collaborative practice. The partnership has delivered 19 Scottish woodlands that now contain 2.5 million trees covering 3,700 acres and capturing 502,000 tonnes of CO2.

While it was great to see that each and every applicant found that collaboration was key to a business’s success in sustainable development, for Scottish businesses to take these benefits and savings to the next level they should consider setting up a consortium co-operative business.

By setting up consortium co-operatives, businesses can reduce costs, share risks and create new platforms for growth. They also fuel faster and more innovative developments that positively impact on companies’ productivity, profit margin and customer base.

Seeing businesses reaping the benefits at this early stage was incredible to see and we wish all six companies the best of luck at the VIBES Awards ceremony which takes place at the Glasgow Marriott Hotel on Thursday 29 November.