Wednesday 24 September 2014

Day 1 – London: Green Ventures Mission to the UK

What does a company delegate need when visiting on a Mission to the UK with Green Ventures? Well, stamina, a modicum of English and an ability to network in business meetings and socially. Matchsticks to keep the eyes open at the end of the day are a useful accessory.

On a September Monday morning, I used my sustainable transport (company bicycle) to ride to the station at Waterbeach. My green credentials were suitably watered by the rain that waited till I was past the point of no return along the peaceful river Cam. Fortunately, I’d dried out by the time I arrived in London just before 10am, at Europe House in Smith Square. The delegates had been travelling since the early hours of the morning from Leipzig airport and arrived soon after – at least they brought the sun with them! British companies interested in talking with the delegates were also present.

I chaired the first part of the morning session with the aim of winning back some precious minutes in the program. After a welcome by the German Embassy, we had talks by UK experts such as Sven Riemann of the AHK, Mike Woollacott, GreenWatt and then by six members of the delegation. By midday, the first of the one to one meetings began.

My role turned to being language facilitator for the business couple Peter and Simone Heydenbluth of ERV. An entrepreneur, Peter had surfed the initial wave of waste recycling and then, once it had matured, he moved on to a new area, grey-water. Fortunately, his concept was simplicity itself, merely requiring some legislation, a collection area covering a major metropolis and a way to make liquid gold out of waste.

Since 1999, German restaurants and other catering establishments had been required to collect their grey-water and allow it to settle in tanks in their basements. This prevented residual solid wastes rich in fats and oils from entering the drainage systems and gradually clogging them up. More recent legislation then stipulated that rather than residues being simply thrown away, efforts should be made to recover useful products.

Peter instigated a major collection service for this sludge for a significant proportion of Berlin. The waste was separated into water sufficiently pure for cleaning vehicles and irrigation. The remainder , enriched in organics, was then sold to refineries to be fractionated into oils and lubricants for the motor industry.

After a welcome lunch break, we were herded onto a bus to set off for the EcoPark in Edmonton. With a little prompting, our young bus driver gave a running commentary on the sights and history en route. It turned out that after having spurned history at school, he had developed a deep interest in the subject and thus helped us pass the time.

We had a fascinating talk and tour of the EcoPark, which dealt primarily with the domestic waste from North London. The material was sorted, graded and then only the residue was incinerated in a hi-tech facility, where even the combustion gases were scrubbed. See the separate article listed below.

It was gone 6pm when the bus made its way back toward London for the hotel and an evening reception. Another UK delegate and I were dropped off on the way near Regent’s Park to catch our respective underground and trains home.

By 9pm, I was back on my bike, cycling in the peaceful darkness along the river Cam to my home.

Related links to articles, photo albums and videos:

Day 1 – London: Green Ventured Mission to the UK.
Day 2 – Cambridge: Green Ventures Mission to the UK.
Day 3 – Birmingham: Green Ventures Mission to the UK.
The Delegation - Green Ventures Mission to the UK.
Recycling waste in the UK - Green Ventures Mission to the UK.
Unternehmerdelegation nach Großbritannien: Neue Märkte erkunden. Beispiel Potsdam Green Ventures.
Online Photoalbum of Green Ventures – Mission to the UK
Interviews with delegates and helpers at Green Ventures – Mission to the UK

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