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NetComposites was one of just six small businesses recognised at the recent Shell Springboard national environmental business awards in London, for its work in developing new products from self-reinforced plastics.

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The company is now working with a number of potential customers to develop self-reinforced plastic components for a variety of diverse applications, from vehicle panels to helmets.

Shell has recognised the best small business ideas to combat climate change, as judged by independent environmental and business experts. Self-reinforced polypropylene is a new material with high strength to weight ratio and which is completely recyclable, intended to replace heavier, semi-structural components in cars such as bonnets and interiors. For many applications polypropylene has insufficient stiffness and needs to be reinforced, with glass fibres for example, although this reduces recyclability and can make it difficult to achieve an acceptable surface finish. Instead, by reinforcing polypropylene with fibres of the same polymer, a material can be produced that has intermediate stiffness, exceptional impact performance, a ‘class A’ surface finish and which is fully recyclable.

Six companies qualified for the final from three regional events, each winning £40,000 towards establishing and marketing their product. Each was required to present their business case to a panel of expert judges led by James Cameron, Founder of Climate Change Capital. ""Developing technologies and services that address climate change is a great opportunity for all businesses, large or small, “ he said, ""Shell Springboard is making a valuable contribution by recognising innovation in small business.""

Representatives from Government, NGO groups and business were among those attending the awards, including keynote speaker, Elliot Morley MP, Minister for Climate Change and Environment.

Speaking at the event, James Smith, Chairman of Shell UK (pictured left) said: ‘As demand for energy grows, so does the pressure on businesses like ours to do everything we can to tackle climate change. We created Shell Springboard as part of our UK social investment programme to encourage and reward firms whose ideas will have a positive impact on the environment, but also make good commercial sense. I think tonight’s finalists show that there are some truly great minds out there who know how they can make a valuable difference.’

Gordon Bishop, Managing Director of NetComposites (pictured right), said “Self-reinforced plastics have huge potential in a range of applications by reducing weight and environmental impact. We have developed the technology and know-how to be able to convert these materials into complex finished components, and we are now delighted to be working with a number of customers on self-reinforced plastics applications.”