Michael McLeod (Universal Resource Trading)
Award: October's Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award
Whilst studying at university, Michael helped clear out one of the university’s labs as it received new equipment. He noticed two things during the move: the first was that most of the equipment was still in perfect working order, or had hardly been used. The second was that the equipment was not being recycled, but simply thrown away.
Thus Michael identified an opportunity to reduce the waste burden of laboratories, repurpose rare earth metals, and even help cash-strapped universities turn a small profit.
Michael’s response to this market failure is UniGreenScheme, created through his company Universal Resource Trading. The only company offering the service in the UK, Universal Resource Trading helps universities to sell used lab equipment, reducing waste and costs. The scheme aims to prevent the disposal of an estimated 201.6 tonnes of useable equipment. The business recently acquired 300 chairs headed for disposal and sold them on, resulting in the prevention of four tonnes of waste and reducing CO2 emissions by over 30,000kg.
Lab equipment, which is highly specialised, often comes at a high cost, reaching into the tens of thousands of pounds. This is in part because the equipment relies on the use of rare earth metals and chemical components, such as mercury and complex alloys, to function properly. Treated as hazardous materials, the failure to recycle lab equipment properly results in the loss of limited resources, increased carbon emissions, and high costs of disposal for commercial labs and universities.
Michael McLeod of Universal Resource Trading.
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