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Adapt and Prosper Seminar 29th November 2007
British Antarctic Survey, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 OET

Rising fuel prices and increasing environmental legislation are putting pressure on mid-market companies not just to review their energy strategies, but also to see how they can realign their businesses to exploit the opportunities that a changing climate presents.

Management consultants Obsidian will be discussing the challenges facing business and their options for response along with the findings from original research at a seminar ‘Adapt and Prosper’ on 29th November 2007, hosted by the British Antarctic Survey and sponsored by Handelsbanken.

It has become apparent to Obsidian that there is a need for pragmatic business advice on creating a response to climate change and it is conducting in-depth research into the issues that are concerning businesses in the region.

One of the companies interviewed is Peterborough-based Paperfeel, manufacturers of customised polyethylene film used within the packaging industry for wraps and sacks. The company, faced with a trebling in the price of its basic raw materials, decided that it needed to innovate to survive and as a result has successfully entered a new market.

Paperfeel enjoys a niche in the competitive packaging industry as it is able to tailor its product to meet the exact requirements of the customer. This makes its film more expensive to produce but this is outweighed by the benefits to the customer of having high-performance packaging.

However the company has been badly hit by the rising price of its petroleum-based raw materials, particularly where larger clients have negotiated fixed price contracts.

Paperfeel’s uniqueness is due to the innovation of its founder Geoff Southwell, who saw this as a market opportunity. After talking to customers he realised that they wanted to increase the proportion of the plastic they were using that was derived from sustainable sources. This reduces dependence on oil-based products and brings them in line with environmental legislation. Additionally although biodegradable film is still more expensive it attracts a comparable tax to paper, which is less than for plastic.

Geoff then sourced bioploymers that are starch-based and experimented with them to see if they could be used within Paperfeel’s formulations. The result is a new range of compostable and biodegradable films that is generating new business enquiries from right across all sectors of industry.

Other manufacturers are producing compostable films but there is a shortage of non-GM films and so Geoff ensured that his raw materials came from approved sources to create a further market advantage.

Geoff also explored other ways that he could help customers reduce costs. Paperfeel produces blown polyethylene, and is able to vary the formulation of the film to meet exact specifications for each application. For example, by reducing density the customer gets more meters of film for the tonne. Through a process of test and trial he has managed to create formulations that meet the requirement for strength and clarity and yet use less raw material.

The seminar ‘Adapt and Prosper: Leadership in a changing business climate’ is to be held at the British Antarctic Survey on 29th November 2007. It is aimed owners and chief executives. Cost is £75. For further details please contact Salli Banks on 01799 543707,,

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Notes for editors:

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Obsidian Consulting LLP is a long-established management consultancy that excels in bringing clarity to business issues. It has organised the seminar in response to requests from its clients. The consultancy has conducted in-depth interviews with representatives from across the business community to assess the issues concerning directors and owners and the strategies they are considering. Obsidian will present these findings and its responses at the seminar, providing a useful benchmarking exercise for business leaders.

British Antarctic Survey, part of the Natural Environment Research Council, provides both a unique insight into the scientific basis of the concerns over climate change and case studies demonstrating the management issues arising from operating within extremely demanding environmental parameters.

Handelsbanken is sponsoring the seminar. The bank, one of the largest in Scandinavia, has had a presence in Britain for over 25 years and is now rapidly expanding its UK network. It has a strong environmental policy and was recently awarded "best in the financial sector" by the Folksham index for corporate social responsibility of Stockholm registered companies.

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