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Big Tonnes Challenge

The Big Tonnes Update

Our Big Tonnes Challenge kicked off in late November, with teams of apprentices and graduates from across the country being tasked with solving real-world net zero challenges set by industry partners. We’re now almost four months in and are fast approaching the end of the final sprint, where our teams will present their final solutions to a panel of industry experts.

We wanted to showcase just how far our teams have come already and the solutions they’ve developed to help solve these major problems. So, without further ado, here are our main highlights so far…

The Guest Speakers
The teams have attended a variety of tutorials during Challenge to help shape their solutions. One of the most inspiring of these was our session on the circular economy, where we had a fantastic Q&A with Jo Chidley and Lynn Wilson.

Jo provided us with some fantastic real-world examples from her own company, Beauty Kitchen. Beauty Kitchen creates sustainable beauty products. Jo told us how the company has designed and launched the world’s first closed-loop solution for beauty packaging, known as ‘Return · Refill · Repeat’. Her work is a real benchmark for companies looking to become more sustainable, and through hearing from her, our teams were able to see how circular businesses actually work.

Lynn shared her extensive experience in circular economy and ethics for sustainable business practices with the teams. Lynn’s company, Circular Design Scotland, works with businesses and non-profit organisations to accelerate circular and sustainable business practices. Her insights helped inspire the teams to delve more into the sustainability issues surrounding their problems.

The Ideas so far
Another major highlight of the Challenge so far has been the teams’ initial ideas, which showcased just how brilliant our challengers’ solutions are and how hard they have worked.

For the question set by Jacobs, AECOM, and Transport Scotland, the teams had to incentivise individuals and broader society to embrace public and greener forms of transport. From increasing the uptake of EVs through streetlight and wireless charging solutions to improving public transport usage through an app and ride-sharing model, both teams provided some fresh perspectives on how we can improve transport in Scotland. They made us think more about how we get around as a team.

There’s no running away from the fact that we live in a world that loves to consume fashion, from high-end red carpets to the high street. The teams tackling Arkdefo’s consumer behaviour question are looking at changing our approach to sustainable fashion in bold and exciting ways that will change the attitudes of their own demographic and empower society to make new and better choices. We’re all hoping at Fuel Change that we’re hip and trendy enough to get an invite to be part of their events and campaigns (although I think saying hip and trendy may have lost me my invite).

The automotive industry is working hard to make its production more circular, and Arnold Clark has enlisted the help of four of our teams to work out how the industry can achieve this. This Challenge took the teams in majorly different directions with ideas that included an electric urban bike built out of old car parts and furniture designed by Scottish artists using waste car materials. The teams have dreamed big, and we’re hoping these products and ideas hit the market soon. The Fuel Change team have plans to ride their electric urban bikes to work and have an office complete with recycled car furniture this time next year, so no pressure teams.

Scotland is a hub for thriving businesses and innovation, so it has such great potential to lead the way in the transition to a booming Net Zero economy. CBI challenged our teams to incentivise more businesses to make this transition. There’s been a wide variety of ideas from the teams, including transitioning the public transport industry towards a new demand-led approach to maximise the industry’s efficiency and customer uptake. Another one of our teams is looking into developing an app that will notify customers of local food items nearing their expiry dates. As a frequent customer of the reduced aisle, I’m signing myself up for the waiting list.

From arranging dinner plans with friends to just the daily question of what’s for tea, food is a massive part of our lives, but rarely do we really think about how far our food has travelled. IGS is seeking to help bring our food production closer to home and improve our diets with their vertical farming technology with the help of our challenge teams. The teams have done fantastic jobs at identifying the issues with the diets of their local communities and proposing ways in which adopting vertical farms could improve these. We’re sure that they’ll be a vertical farm arriving on your doorstep in no time with their solutions.

The climate emergency has a huge impact on biodiversity, both in Scotland and worldwide. Working with Scottish Water to preserve and improve Scotland’s natural capital in rural and urban areas, our teams have proposed some exciting new attractions to help solve this. From what the teams have already produced, I’m sure that urban drainage parks, wildflower meadows, and the peatlands will be the hottest, most popular day trips of the future.

Our mentors..
As part of the final stage of our Challenge process, our groups are paired up with one of our industry mentors. This collaboration is a major highlight of the Fuel Change Challenge, as it presents a unique opportunity for our mentors to share their vast expertise in their various fields with the next generation.

All our current Challenge teams have been working hard with their mentors as they refine their ideas throughout our final ‘Sprint’, and with the final judging fast approaching, we can’t wait to see the output of this collaboration.

The Big Tonnes Challengers have already come up with innovative solutions to these monumental problems faced by industry. By working with industry experts, they are helping to demonstrate how Scotland can pave the way towards a Net Zero future.