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From making cans to creating jobs and cleaning the air – the latest tenants at Metal Box



The transformation of Neath’s iconic former Metal Box container factory into a job creating business zone has been a big success with much of the work being carried out during the Covid pandemic.

Now it will play a major role in helping the area’s recovery from the economic effects of coronavirus with Neath Port Talbot Council’s Leader and Deputy Leader, Cllr Ted Latham and Cllr Leanne Jones, and Chief Executive Karen Jones, visiting the site on Friday (November 12th).

They were invited by the latest business to move into the Milland Road business zone, Vortex IoT (Internet of Things) – a dynamic company at the forefront of smart city technologies and experts in air quality monitoring.

Vortex has pedigree in helping councils reduce air pollution through unprecedented, street-level measurement of air quality. By 2050, air pollution is set to be the number one cause of environment-related deaths worldwide and Vortex is passionate about stopping this by contributing towards clean air for all. 

With large air quality monitoring networks across the UK, Vortex’s partners benefit with the detailed air quality intelligence needed to take targeted environmental action. 

Neath Port Talbot Council is now benefitting from Vortex’s pioneering air quality monitoring networks. The deployment of 70 sensors, attached to lamposts, is the first of its kind in Wales and is harnessing the power of technology to get a much better understanding of air quality on a local level. Better air quality intelligence will uncover previously hidden pollution hotspots and discover the sources of pollution, allowing the council to take targeted action to demonstrably cut air pollution. 

The cutting edge deployment goes far beyond DEFRA legislated air pollution guidelines and is an indicator of the clear intent that Neath Port Talbot Council and Vortex have to protect residents’ health and mitigate the harm of air pollution. It’s supported by the Swansea Bay City Deal Supporting Innovation and Low Carbon Growth programme, and is being delivered as part of the council’s Decarbonisation and Renewable Energy (DARE) Strategy. 


Vortex IoT plans to create up to 50 highly skilled engineering and advanced manufacturing jobs in the next 18 months at its new home in the former Metal Box site. The company has recently been awarded Tech Company of the Year at the 2021 Swansea Bay Business Awards, as well as being awarded for its entrepreneurship via company Chief Executive, Adrian Sutton. 

The former Metal Box site was occupied for more than 70 years by the Metal Box container factory but since its most recent occupier, the Crown Packaging company, closed in 2016, the future of the historic building seemed doubtful and it remained vacant for some years. However, with support from the Welsh Government’s targeted regeneration investment programme, Neath Port Talbot Council bought the site with the aim of creating around 400 jobs. 

Sevenoaks Modular purchased approximately 50% of the production area of the building, giving the project a major early boost. Refurbishment work on the modernisation of the site continued throughout the pandemic with the work being done by Port Talbot-based contractor Andrew Scott Ltd. 

Neath Port Talbot Council’s Leader and Deputy Leader, Cllr Ted Latham and Cllr Leanne Jones, and Chief Executive Karen Jones, visited the site on Friday (Image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

Council Leader Cllr Latham said: “The idea of establishing the business zone was to work with local businesses to provide offices and other facilities to create expansion and growth opportunities and it’s a real achievement that so much progress was made on the site despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re delighted Vortex IoT has now made the site its home and we look forward to working with the company to thoroughly investigate air pollution issues to help make our communities cleaner and greener.”

Adrian Sutton, Vortex CEO, said: “Vortex is passionate about decarbonisation, and our complete in-house manufacturing of this cleantech relies on a robust base of operations. Metal Box is an office we are proud of, and it is invigorating to work with a council so focused on providing clean air for its residents.”


(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Swansea-based recycling business scoops national award




Family-run business, Gavin Griffiths Recycling came out top at the Growing Business Awards 2021

This is the second award for the Swansea-based business this year, after the firm found success at the Swansea Bay Business Awards, picking up the Business of the Year 2021 award

The business describes itself as one of the region’s leading recycling, waste management, haulage and aggregate suppliers.

In a very competitive category at an awards ceremony to honour and reward the UK’s most entrepreneurial and high growth business, up against 1,400 other businesses in the category, Gavin Griffiths Recycling came out on top at the Growing Business Awards 2021.  

The firm said they were delighted to be announced B2B Business of the Year 2021 at the ceremony held at the Grosvenor Hotel in London. They described this latest award as further testimony to the hard work and determination that has seen the business accelerate its growth plans since its birth in 2005.

During the last 18 months, the group has opened its second site, a 40-acre inert recycling facility in Carmarthenshire, complimenting its existing mixed recycling facility in Swansea whilst delivering one of its largest and most prestigious contracts working on the Llangennech railway crash land remediation.  

The arrival of new staff, additional machinery, plant and 10 new trucks to support the expansion plans have also seen the continued investment into the business.

The company said that whilst keeping its values as a family business, they have continued their community and social values programme, supporting grassroots sports, individuals, schools, and charities across South and West Wales.


Gavin Griffiths, Group Managing Director commented: “I was very honoured to see us make the final of such a prestigious national award, but when our name was read out as the winner, I was extremely proud of what we have achieved as a team. I would like thank the whole team, as well as every one of our customers, suppliers and stakeholders for supporting us on our journey so far. 

“This recognition is phenomenal, we are so grateful and humbled to have been chosen from so many other amazing throughout the UK. We have some exciting developments on the horizon that will see us pioneer and lead the way in the recycling market. To win two awards in one year, really shows how we have kept our family ethos and worked hard to serve our customers across the whole business.”

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Swansea named the best city in Wales to buy pre-loved presents




close up shot of a person wrapping a gift box

Sustainable e-tailer Bower Collective’s latest study finds the UK’s top places to buy second-hand gifts this Christmas

As much as £42m worth of Christmas gifts are unwanted (and sent to landfill) each year. To break the taboo around second-hand gifting this festive season, Bower Collective have released a study looking at the number of vintage stores, second-hand shops and vintage and second-hand events per capita across UK towns and cities to find the top places to find pre-loved presents.

Considering all factors, the study found Swansea is the “thrifty-gifting” capital of Wales. Elsewhere in Wales, Wrexham has the most second-hand shops per capita. The Welsh town has 34 second-hand shops per 10,000 people, the most per capita in the UK. Newport has the 4th most second-hand shops per capita, with 38 to offer.

The data for the four major cities can be found below:

LocationOverall rank in WalesNo. of vintage stores (rank per capita)No. of second-hand shops (rank per capita)No. of recent second-hand events (rank per capita)

The study also researched the search volume of each city for sustainable and second-hand shopping terms like ‘sustainable gifts’, ‘charity shops’ and ‘vintage kilo sale’. Per capita, Cardiff searches the most for relevant terms in Wales. However they also found that searches in Swansea increased by 528% in the past year alone, the biggest one year growth in Wales and the UK overall.

Overall across the UK, Norwich, Worthing, Newcastle and Worcester are the best places to buy a pre-loved present. From looking at Google search trends, the study also found that Brits are searching for ‘sustainable gifts’ 988% more than they were three years ago. Searches for ‘Vintage Kilo Sale’ also rose by 167% and ‘charity shops’ searches went up by 95%.

Norwich, Norfolk featured in the top 10 for all factors, and also ranked top for the most vintage shops per capita, with 28 to choose between. The next best cities to go vintage shopping are Carlisle and Brighton.


The city with the most second-hand events (like vintage kilo sales and table-top sales) is Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. For this festive season, residents of the city have over 30 events to get stuck into. The next places hosting the most second-hand events were Lincoln and Worcester.

The study can also reveal the most ‘thrifty gift’ winners of each UK Nation. Derry in Northern Ireland is the best place to buy pre-loved presents on the Emerald Isle, and considering its smaller size, Derry ranked 4th in the study for the number of vintage shops per capita – with 8 to purchase from. Glasgow is the ‘thrifty gifting’ capital of Scotland, and ranks 5th in the study overall. Glasgow also has the 6th most vintage shops per. capita in the UK – with 44 to explore.

The study was also supplemented with research into the UK’s changing search trends for sustainable and second-hand gift giving. The data found that those in Bath, Edinburgh and Oxford are searching the most for second-hand and sustainable gift giving search terms per capita.

However, since 2020 Swansea has seen the biggest one-year increase in relevant search terms (up by 528%). Milton Keynes (with an increase of 146%) and Woking (with an increase of 134%) were the next cities with the biggest growth of interest in shopping more climate-conciously.


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Royal Mail

No printer? No problem! Royal Mail will now bring labels and collect your parcel from your door




The move enables customers without a printer to feel the benefit of Parcel Collect, where posties collect parcels for delivery while carrying out their delivery round.

The plans to deliver pre-printed labels are also aimed at bringing even more convenience to customers who are increasingly time-poor and may not want to leave home to drop off a parcel or wait in queues – especially during the cold winter months. As the festive season approaches, it promises to be one of the most convenient ways to post presents this Christmas.

Under Parcel Collect, customers arrange for their postie to collect their parcel from their doorstep. Customers using the service simply have to book a collection online ( then signal whether they would like to order a self-adhesive, pre-printed postage label to affix to their parcel*. As part of the service, postmen and postwomen will collect a parcel from the customer’s door or nominated safe place.

Through Parcel Collect, Royal Mail collects from customers at their doorstep as part of our postmen and women’s daily round, which means no additional vehicles on the road resulting in fewer additional emissions and less congestion. With the UK’s largest “Feet on the Street” network of over 85,000 postmen and women, Royal Mail already has the lowest reported CO2e emissions per parcel amongst major UK delivery companies. 

As well as offering even higher levels of convenience, Parcel Collect enables online sellers and online shoppers to mail or return a pre-paid item by post from the comfort of their own home. Parcel Collect is available six days a week and can be booked up to five days in advance and up to midnight the day before. Parcel Collect is currently priced at 60p per item, inclusive of VAT, in addition to postage costs.

Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, said: “Every day our posties walk past every house in the country at about the same time. People know when their postie is going to deliver and now they can send or return parcels at the same time. If people aren’t going to be in, they can leave their item in a safe place for our postie to collect it and now if they don’t have a printer at home, they can ask their postie to bring the label with them. How convenient is that! As the nights continue to draw in and the weather gets worse, why go out when you can stay safe and warm and leave the hard work to your friendly local postie. And even better, many of our deliveries and collections are carried out by posties who walk their rounds – the greenest way to send and return.”


The nationwide launch of label-less collections follows a trial of the service in four areas of the UK earlier in the year.

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