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A New Wave of Green Business Emerges in Britain


In Britain many new environmentally friendly businesses are cropping up that are distinctly unusual in their exploration of green products for a sustainable world.

In Britain many new environmentally friendly businesses are cropping up that are distinctly unusual in their exploration of green products for a sustainable world. Many British entrepreneurs are working hard to slice a chunk out of the estimated $6 trillion green economy.

A New Wave of Green Business Emerges in Britain

A New Wave of Green Business Emerges in Britain

Lizzie Lee is stitching a piece of old lace her mom found at a flea market. Later she will use the lace to make a lamp made entirely of recycled products.

She started making objects using recycled products more than a decade ago, following a trip to India.

"I could see all the waste there [in India]. You know when you are in this country [in the UK] you do not really, you are not aware of the waste, it is all hidden away and taken away to landfills as soon as you have finished using things. And over there you would see big piles of it in the desert. And I came back to university and I just really wanted to recycle plastic."

Now, in a spacious warehouse in Britain's coastal city Brighton, Lizzie Lee has turned her love for recycling into a small business.

Using recycled plastic milk bottles and lace, she makes beautiful white lamps that sell for around $100. Lizzie Lee says her recycled lamps have become popular with customers that like to buy green products.

"I did not even used to always mention it before, because they would see the product as worth less because the materials were recycled. Now it definitely makes people feel good about buying it and they can get green points for having a recycled product."

But not every small business is benefitting from concerns about the environment. Analysts warn that energy-dependent sectors such as the transport, tourism, and construction industries may suffer.

Manzoor Haidar, who works in the transport industry, says new costs are emerging as a result of climate change that could put companies like his out of business.

He says that, for example, he has had to take some of his older trucks off the road, because London's low emission zone, where vehicles that pollute are being charged a fee, is too costly.

"The penalties and fines are far, far too excessive and that has put lot of businesses out of, completely out."

He says he worries banks will not lend the money for small businesses to survive the new costs.

"We do need lot of support from the government in order to keep the businesses going if they really want the small to medium businesses to be successful."

Steven Howard is CEO of the environmental organization The Climate Group. He says some small businesses may find the green transition challenging.

"The challenge for small and medium enterprises, when you get very rapid change - how do people keep up to speed? And I think there is a role for big companies with supply chains to reach back down their supply chains and help them, there is a role for government's agencies to help give people good information."

But he says, overall, he thinks small business will benefit from concerns about climate change. He says new green businesses are cropping up everywhere.

"There are the small start-up companies, there are the small battery companies that just did not exist - producing batteries for new electric vehicles. They did not exist a few years ago, many of them. There are new companies producing super-efficient LED light bulbs, great light bulbs. So you have got new companies coming up and we will see those grow very rapidly."

A 2009 report commissioned by the British Government found the global low-carbon economy was worth around $6 trillion in 2008.

According to the report, the United States is the leader in clean-technology investment, followed by China and Japan.

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