Major recognition for GMIT research on waste practices

GMIT has received international recognition for its ongoing research on waste practices and environmental methodologies in small and medium enterprises.

The research is part of a European project called “FutureSME” involving 26 partners in eight countries.

Sinéad Mitchell, a post-graduate researcher in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, received a best paper award for her paper entitled ‘The Issue of Waste in European Manufacturing SMEs’ presented at the 13th International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium in Italy earlier this month (October), under the ‘Waste Policy and Legislation’ theme. The conference had over 1,000 submissions, and over 800 papers were published and presented under 13 themes.

The research conducted was an exploratory study on the behaviour, practices and motivations of waste practices in manufacturing SMEs in Europe. Environmental behaviour has been researched for the past 20 years, but it mainly looks at large organisations or domestic waste practices.

“Despite the fact that SMEs in Europe produce 70% of all industrial-related waste, very little research has been conducted into the views of the owners and managers of small businesses,” explains Sinéad Mitchell.

“Large organisations have made improvements in their waste practices in recent times. They have plenty of resources to deal effectively with waste management, which gives them an advantage over SMEs.”

“The study showed that, despite very little improvement in wastes practices in SMEs in recent years, the majority of SME owners and mangers do have good intentions to be more environmentally friendly. It indicated that the SMEs would be motivated towards better waste management practices if they were ‘nudged’ by the waster service providers. This could be done by effectively communicating their personal ‘green’ benefits of better practices. It also showed that they would change their behaviours if they were ranked alongside similar industries, as they would like to keep up with best practice.” says Sinead.

As part of her research into environmental methodologies, Sinead has worked closely with Irish SMEs including The CityBin Co, Oranmore, and Roche Manufacturing, Mountbellew. The research findings have been shared with some county councils that assisted in gathering the information.

Sinéad Mitchell is one of a team of researchers in GMIT working on the FutureSME research project. Her co-authors of the paper were lecturers Dr Paul O’Dowd and Dr Thomas Roche, and post-doctoral researcher Dr. Aurora Dimache.

This research was completed as part of the EU Framework 7-funded FutureSME project (www.futuresme.eu) which aims to develop tools and techniques to make European SMEs more competitive. For more information please contact sinead.mitchell@futuresme.org or Paul O’Dowd on 091-742205.

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