Sustainable innovations get the royal vote in this year’s Queen’s Award

The winners of the 2021 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise have been announced today (29 April), celebrating the achievements of UK businesses.

This year, 205 businesses representing every part of the United Kingdom and a diverse range of sectors have been recognised by Her Majesty The Queen as among the best in the country.

The focus of this year’s awards is on Promoting Opportunity through Social Mobility, an especially important theme given the challenges that have been faced through the pandemic, with businesses playing a valuable role in their local communities.

This year’s Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are given for outstanding achievement in:

  • innovation
  • international trade
  • sustainable development
  • promoting opportunity (through social mobility)

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The past year has been a tough time for many businesses across the UK, which is why it is more important than ever to celebrate the achievements of our wealth creators and recognise the contributions they make to our communities.

“In the last 12 months, British businesses showed the entrepreneurial spirit that this country is renowned for, continuing to drive social mobility, find new markets to export to and produce innovative products and services.

“I congratulate this year’s winners and I wish every business that applied for an award this year every success in the future as we build back better from the pandemic.”


Hubbub Enterprise received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category.

The social enterprise arm of the environmental charity Hubbub, which in 2020 became a certified B Corp, is behind the world’s first voting ashtray, the “Ballot Bin”, designed to tackle the most common form of plastic litter: cigarettes.

More than 3,300 Ballot Bins have now been sold in 38 countries around the world, from South Korea to Macedonia. Over 500 of these have been bought by local authorities in the UK and are proving an effective tool in the battle against litter – Southend BID’s twenty-one Ballot Bins reduced cigarette litter by 46% according to an independent study. The bins are also being used by large corporations including McDonalds, IKEA and Amazon.

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world and, given their filters are made from cellulose acetate, are an often unrecognised single-use plastic. The Ballot Bins in total collect approximately 4 million cigarette butts per year, preventing them being littered and leaching out toxic chemicals and harming wildlife.

Our wider projects are going from strength to strength thanks to organisations keen to make a tangible impact on key environmental issues

Drawing on the charity Hubbub’s work, Hubbub Enterprise creates products and services that nudge people to do the right thing and take engaging environmental campaigns to scale. In addition to the Ballot Bins, it is responsible for creating recycled plastic fishing boats to tackle litter in waterways, launching pioneering recycling campaigns like #InTheLoop and is currently helping major UK businesses to engage employees in sustainability.

Alex Robinson, Managing Director of Hubbub Enterprise said “We are delighted that our work has been recognised with such a prestigious award.  Our Ballot Bins have provided a playful and effective solution to tackle some of the 4.5 trillion* cigarette butts which are littered worldwide each year.

“Our wider projects are going from strength to strength thanks to organisations keen to make a tangible impact on key environmental issues.

“We’ve now taken over 2700 employees and school children out on our recycled plastic fishing boats to help learn about plastic pollution and remove litter from waterways.

“We’re also working with corporations like Investec and KPMG to engage employees with away days and long-term behaviour change campaigns and are providing consultancy to businesses across the UK”.

Now that two thirds of local authorities have declared a Climate Emergency, Hubbub Enterprise has also recently launched a climate comms kit for local authorities to help residents take everyday action to tackle climate change.

Toast Ale

Toast Ale has been honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development.

Toast Ale is a social enterprise set up in 2015 to tackle food waste. The brewery works with bakeries to prevent surplus bread from being wasted, using it to produce its popular range of craft beers. The circular economy approach to brewing also reduces the environmental footprint of the beer because less natural resources are required.

Toast was the first UK brewery to become a Certified B Corp. It has open-sourced its recipe and collaborates with breweries and bakeries all over the world to drive systemic change. All Toast’s profits go to charities fixing the food system.

Food production is the biggest contributor to climate change but one third of all food is wasted. We’re here to change that, over a pint.

Louisa Ziane, co-founder of Toast, said: “We’re incredibly proud to be one of 205 organisations nationally to be recognised with a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

“We’re a small business but have had a huge impact over the past 5 years, preventing over 2 million slices of bread from being wasted whilst inspiring brewers all over the world to use surplus bread. Food production is the biggest contributor to climate change but one third of all food is wasted. We’re here to change that, over a pint.”


Reconomy, the UK provider of outsourced waste and resource management, recycling services and environmental compliance, has been awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, presented on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, for demonstrating excellence in the field of innovation.

From the many thousands of applications received each year, Reconomy is named amongst a small number of businesses to be honoured in 2021. Reconomy will now join the select group of companies able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards emblem for the next five years.

Reconomy’s innovative business model has transformed the management of housebuilding, construction, commercial and industrial waste in the UK, utilising market-leading digital technology to manage waste more efficiently, transparently, safely and with greater consideration given to the environment and sustainability.

The sector has long garnered a reputation for being antiquated and ‘analogue’ in its business practices, with very little consideration given to exploring new ways of working. In recent years, through continuous innovations, Reconomy has digitised the process of managing waste from end-to-end.

It demonstrates that we are not only at the forefront of the outsourced services industry, but are also a leading light across all sectors as we pursue our ambition to be the leading provider of technology-enabled services to drive the circular economy

This has included the development of unique and exclusive supply chain integrations through Reconomy’s digitalXchange, which provide for a truly automated exchange of waste movement and associated compliance data. Reconomy’s suite of apps further advance its technological position by driving automation across previously manual operational processes, as well as offering digital ordering and invoicing capability.

Reconomy has experienced an unprecedented period of sustained growth during the last five years. In 2020 the company claimed 47th spot in the Sunday Times PwC Top Track 250 list – leaping 150 places from its 2019 position.

Paul Cox, CEO of Reconomy, said: “This is an incredible honour for everyone associated with Reconomy and a landmark day in the journey of our business. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is the most prestigious, sought-after award that any UK business can receive and is an incredible testament to the hard work of all our people.

“The development and roll-out of new technology underpins every aspect of our business model, and this award acknowledges our continued commitment to innovative thinking. It demonstrates that we are not only at the forefront of the outsourced services industry, but are also a leading light across all sectors as we pursue our ambition to be the leading provider of technology-enabled services to drive the circular economy.”

Other winners include:

Luminary Bakery, a London-based baking business and café established in 2014 to help women in deprived areas of the capital through a range of issues including long-term unemployment and domestic abuse. The organisation offers a safe and professional environment where women can use baking as a tool to gain skills and recover their independence.

The Community Shop in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. This is a local social enterprise offering surplus food from big chain shops and supermarkets to disadvantaged customers at discounted prices. They have been recognised this year for their work in promoting opportunity within their community, providing employment and training opportunities to disadvantaged local people.

Glencraft Mattresses, a Scottish mattress maker based in Aberdeen for over 170 years. Glencraft uses sustainable, ethically sourced materials to make mattresses, and has been recognised for its important role in providing opportunities to local people, many of them previously unemployed. The company has a Royal Warrant and has been supplying mattresses to the Royal Family for 4 generations.

Cenin Holdings, a company based near Bridgend in south Wales which makes low carbon construction products including cement, fly ashes and ground stabilisation products. They mostly use sustainable products and renewable energy generated on-site and have worked with Cardiff University’s SOLCER house project, developing cutting edge green energy. Cenin have been recognised with a Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development as a small local business with an outstanding impact on cutting emissions, pioneering low carbon manufacturing and environmental sustainability.

Environmental Street Furniture (ESF), a designer and maker of innovative, high-quality furniture in Northern Ireland based in Belfast which exports to 26 countries around the world and has been recognised in the International Trade category. ESF was established in 1998 and uses technology, creativity and modern materials to produce furniture for outdoor spaces for private homes, street displays and brands which has helped boost British exports and earned the company a global reputation for excellence.

Send this to a friend