WITHIN the next decade, companies might need to meet certain social and environmental criteria to be allowed to operate – that was the bold prediction to come out of Surrey’s only green business awards.

Professor Lorenzo Fioramonti, founding director of the Institute for Sustainability at the University of Surrey, said: “Businesses will have to look at the balance sheet not just when it comes to profit but also when it comes to social and environmental impact. 

“Within the next decade, those will be a precondition for all businesses, and those that do not qualify will not be allowed to operate.”

The award winners were revealed at the CREST23 Business Convention at the WWF’s Living Planet Centre in Woking and included Sustainability Hero for 2023 Ben McCallan, chairman of Zero Carbon Guildford, a community hub for environment action groups.

Ben achieved national recognition for his team when they were congratulated in the House of Commons this year for a UK Community Project Award.

A community bus company, Waverley Hoppa, scooped the Sustainability Impact category for businesses with a turnover of over £1million. The award, sponsored by Holdsway, recognised its service for vulnerable or infirm members of the community as well as its commitment to reduce carbon emissions.

The Smarter Transport award, sponsored by Surrey County Council, went to Solarcycle UK, a start-up which develops and instals off-grid solar charging stations for e-bikes and e-scooters.

The Sustainability Impact award for businesses with under £1 million turnover, sponsored by the University of Surrey’s Institute for Sustainability, was won by eco-hub shop Earth’s Sake.

Meanwhile, Albury Organic Vineyard, considered one of the best sustainable English wines, secured the Restoring Nature award, sponsored by the WWF-UK and a new category for 2023.

The Transforming Food award, sponsored by the Surrey Wildlife Trust, went to Food Float, a community interest company offering a range of locally-sourced produce. The Circular Efficiency award, sponsored by Carol Miller Media, went to Bee Friends, a local bee farmer with 33 apiaries.

The Community Impact Award, sponsored by Surrey Hills Enterprises, was presented to Surrey Choices, which provides a range of support services dedicated to improving the independence, confidence and life skills of disabled people.