By reducing waste and using resources more efficiently, businesses can improve their environmental performance and save money at the same time. This is the message from Invest Northern Ireland, which is helping companies to do this by offering interest free loans of up to £50,000 under the Green Technology Initiative (GTI).

Jim Sayers, Director of Knowledge Management in Invest NI, explains: “All businesses are under pressure to reduce operating costs and to minimise their environmental impact. The dilemma that faces smaller companies is how to balance the need for capital investment to achieve environmental improvement, against the daily operating costs of the business. The GTI fills this gap by providing interest free capital which can be repaid out of the resulting savings in operating costs.”

Belfast company Aunt Mollies Foods, which makes frozen fruit pies and puff pastry products, recently used a loan from the GTI initiative to buy a machine that allows them to make products from dough trim, which traditionally goes to waste.

Harry Warren, the company’s product development manager, has developed four new products that can be made from dough trim. He comments: ” We’ve long been aware of the environmental and financial benefits of reducing the amount of waste dough being sent to landfill but were not in a position to make the capital investment required to achieve the reduction.

“The GTI loan enabled us to invest in this machine and as a result we estimate that we will reduce the amount of dough sent to landfill by 90% and generate savings from disposal costs of around £18,000 per year. These disposal savings alone will pay for the machine within three years.”

Companies employing fewer than 250, which have been operating in Northern Ireland for at least a year, are eligible to apply for assistance from the GTI programme. An application form and guidance notes are available by phoning Invest NI on 028 9262 3279. The closing date for the current round of applications is 28th February 2003.