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CALMARE: Sustainable Materials support for manufacturing SMEs
Written: 12 December 2013
Manufacturing SMEs in the South West can benefit from two days free support from an exciting new £1.8m business technology centre managed by the University of Exeter. Part funded for two years by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 - 2013, with match funding from partners, CALMARE (Centre for ALternative MAterials and REmanufacturing Technologies) can support businesses with a range of material development and sustainability projects and services. These include materials testing, waste reduction and advising on remanufacturing and recycling options.
At a time of growing environmental and legislative pressure, the Centre, which has extensive knowledge in the use of composites, sustainable materials and remanufacturing processes, offers the South West’s businesses a competitive advantage, providing individual companies with the support they need, and bringing businesses together to deliver collaborative commercial ventures.
Centre Manager Paul McCutchion said: “A Centre like CALMARE is a real asset for the manufacturing industry. It is not just a question of keeping up with changing legislation – small to medium enterprises are quickly realising that, in our fast paced world, they need to innovate in order to remain competitive.
“However, many do not feel they have the time or resources to look into alternatives that could improve their products and processes, or even know where to start - and that is where we come in. We can offer a range of support, which can take the form of meetings to discuss ideas, site visits, follow up reports, or workshops providing useful information on topics such as the impact of new legislation, or material developments.”
Businesses can take advantage of research and development support, including access to facilities, material testing and selection and research studies. They can also benefit from knowledge transfer and access to experts, as well as collaborative projects, such as implementation of cross network recycling solutions and development of new sustainable materials and processes.
Paul added: “The experts from our team bring a wealth of experience from industry, in addition to the expertise and state of the art facilities we already have at the University. We are currently working on a diverse range of projects, from researching options for processing that renders hazardous waste non-hazardous to putting in the initial ground work so that a client can then carry out and optimise its own research and development work.
“For instance, one of our clients is Mathmos, who have been producing lava lamps for 50 years. We are helping them to investigate materials they can use that are safer than glass, to help them to be in line with forthcoming legislation.”
The British Plastics Federation is one of the partners supporting the Centre by providing match funding and assisting CALMARE with its mission to develop the industry. The leading trade association for the UK plastics industry, the BPF’s members include raw material suppliers, processors, machinery suppliers and recyclers.
Tim Marsden, Senior Projects Executive at BPF, said: “Following our successful collaboration with the University of Exeter on a range of other projects, we were very pleased to lend our support to this exciting new initiative. As the leading trade association for the plastics industry in the UK, one of our major concerns is upcoming UK and EU legislation issues and how they affect businesses. So we are delighted that CALMARE has been set up to help SMEs identify and tackle the growing challenges they face in reusing and recycling plastics and composite materials.”
The other partners providing match funding and assistance are Hambleside Danelaw, which manufactures GRP products and a range of roof, cavity and underfloor ventilation products and Anglo American Vulcanized Fibre, which produces composite and polymer products to aerospace, defence, medical, automotive, transport and industrial markets globally. Furthermore, South West Manufacturing Advisory Service, which provides manufacturing business assistance to companies, is a supporting partner.