Queen’s Award presented to Ballot Bin creators

Hubbub Enterprise has won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category. Billed as “the most prestigious awards for UK businesses”, the Queen’s Awards recognise the outstanding success of a small number of companies each year.

Hubbub Enterprise is the commercial arm of Hubbub, and a registered B Corp. It builds on some of the Foundation’s successful experiments, scaling these ideas to maximise impact and generate a surplus for the Foundation. Our entry was based on the Ballot Bin, the world’s first voting ashtray, which was designed to tackle the most common form of litter: cigarette butts. We have sold over 3,000 Ballot Bins in 38 countries around the world, from South Korea to Macedonia, and if each of our Ballot Bins is emptied once a month when only half full, they will collect 12 million cigarette butts per year. They are a uniquely effective tool in the fight against this pernicious form of plastic pollution: a recent independent study of Southend’s 21 Ballot Bins found they reduced cigarette litter by 46%.

Hubbub Enterprise has won quite a few awards in its time, but it’s fair to say that the Queen’s Award is different. The Lord-Lieutenant of the County, Her Majesty The Queen’s local representative, is going to deliver the award to our office in person. We are invited to display a royal Emblem on everything from invoices to cufflinks and tiepins to, yes, Ballot Bins. Usually there would be a ceremony at Buckingham Palace too, though of course it has been postponed due to the pandemic.

In fact, we can add the ceremony to a long list of delays and cancellations over the last year. It is not easy to generate a profit and deliver positive social and environmental impact at the best of times; it has been enormously challenging to do so at the worst. I’m proud of how the Hubbub Enterprise team has responded to the obstacles Covid-19 put in our path, and it makes this award feel especially timely. When demand for the Ballot Bin collapsed within the UK – by far our biggest market - we refocused on growing overseas markets such as Norway and Sweden and ended the year just 30% down on 2019. When our manufacturer struggled to be prioritised by its suppliers, we committed to ordering a year’s worth of stock in order to guarantee our supply. When we could no longer take corporate groups on team-building Plastic Fishing trips in our recycled plastic boats, we quickly pivoted to supporting businesses help their employees to work more sustainably at home and connect with one another.

Our first foray into sustainable home-working was the Live Savvy Championship with KPMG, which saw over 250 colleagues complete impactful eco-challenges such as switching to a renewable energy provider, collectively saving the emissions required to fly return from London to Tokyo three times. We have since refined our offer into ‘Home Run’, a one-day activity that sends groups of employees on a race to green their home offices. It’s fun and builds team spirit, but Home Run also educates people about the environmental impacts of their homes and helps them take on-the-spot actions that make a difference. This is an area we continue to develop as hybrid working arrangements become the norm and large companies think more about their Scope 3 emissions.

We welcome further conversations with organisations seeking to inspire their teams, reduce their impact and bring sustainability strategies to life: just drop us an email at [email protected]