Created in 2017, Shime started its activities in the field of sustainable development applied to companies. A member of the association of CSR professionals (ProRSE), it has been awarded the “Responsible Company” label by INDR (the National Institute for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility) and has received the “Made in Luxembourg” label, in particular for its various CSR consulting and auditing activities. It assists companies in setting up a CSR approach and in obtaining the INDR ESR label.
In 2020, the company took a new turn, seeking to develop new activities in the environmental field. “Sustainability is part of our DNA and we decided to act more in the environmental field of CSR,” explains Stéphane Borzellino, director – project manager at Shime, “We chose to focus on waste management and in particular on the collection and recycling of cigarette butts.”
Mr Borzellino and Stéphane Hérard, managing director of the Luxembourg company, were aware of a Breton company, MéGO, the only one in Europe to offer a service for collecting and recycling cigarette butts and transforming them into street furniture. Shime thus became the exclusive partner for the territories of Luxembourg, Belgium and the French Moselle department and made it its main activity, to which a team of half a dozen people is dedicated.
“A dual objective”
“We realised that the existing infrastructure for collecting and combating discarded cigarette butts was not sufficient and that we needed to develop an offer in this area.” The need is there: a single cigarette butt can pollute up to 500 litres of water and contains more than 2,500 chemical substances that are released into the environment. “It’s a real ecological scourge,” notes Borzellino.
Shime has therefore started to develop connected kiosks which, in the end, should encourage smokers to move and make an eco-responsible gesture. “Our approach has a dual objective: to encourage the population to adopt an eco-responsible behaviour with regard to cigarette butts and to capture a large number of cigarette butts as part of a collection and processing chain for this waste that is currently being created.”
In the autumn of 2020, the company called on Luxinnovation to provide support and challenge its approach. “We wanted to have a critical look at our approach. That’s when we were offered the opportunity to apply for an innovation process grant. We decided to respond and worked with the Luxinnovation team in a very iterative way: each time we made a breakthrough on this project, we informed them of it and exchanged information and discussed the different ideas. We progressed like that until we submitted the application to the ministry a month later.”
The effort paid off, because at the beginning of the year, the Ministry of the Economy provided the requested subsidy. “We were proud and honoured by this recognition. For us, it meant that we were right to have a high standard that was commensurate with the trust and money committed by the ministry.”
The design phase of the collection point is now well underway. The first full-scale tests are expected towards the end of this year. In the meantime, six municipalities in the country, representing 10% of the total national population, have committed themselves with Shime to a “zero cigarette butt” approach.
“Shime initiated the change in its business model just before the start of the health and economic crisis. This is a good example of a company targeted by the Ministry of the Economy’s investment aid in the COVID-19 era (Neistart-ICO),” explains Maximilian Przybyl, Advisor – Corporate R&D and Innovation Support at Luxinnovation, who supported the company. “Thanks to this support instrument, Shime can carry out a strategic project that will enable it to adapt to a new environment and bounce back as quickly as possible after the crisis.”