Waste Not

September marked the 17th year of Recycle Week, which ran from the 23-29 September in 2019, and aims to persuade consumers and businesses to review their recycling habits and so increase recycling rates.

The event is organised by the sustainability charity WRAP whose main priority is to maximise the value of waste by increasing the quantity and quality of materials collected for re-use and recycling. Recycling and waste management has become a huge priority for those working in facilities management.

Research carried out by FMJ in partnership with Grundon Waste Management in 2018 and again in 2019 into sustainability and waste management trends, found that reducing waste is now one of the most essential functions of FM. In fact, the 2019 survey found that for the second year running, facilities managers said they considered waste management and improving recycling to be their number one environmental and sustainability goal, ahead of energy consumption, carbon footprint management and handling hazardous materials.

The Government has recognised the importance of increasing recycling rates amongst businesses. In July it announced a new grant to help improve non-domestic recycling rates as part of the £18 million Resource Action Fund, launched by Defra in May 2019. The aim of the grant is to provide capital support to increase recycling infrastructure for non-household municipal waste, (NHM), which is defined as that similar in profile to household waste (including packaging, paper and food waste) but is generated by sectors such as hospitality and food service, education, health, transport, retail, wholesale and offices. The national recycling rate for NHM sector waste is currently around 40%, and the intention is to reach targets of a 55% recycling rate by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035.

According to Defra in 2019, currently only just over a third of business waste is recycled, so there is huge potential to recycle more, which is why grants are available for small and medium sized businesses who’d like the opportunity to implement innovative waste management projects. 

Businesses who’d like some help in improving their recycling rates can apply for a grant which ranges from £25,000 to £170,000 to help with waste reduction projects.

Leading FM businesses are already doing their bit. As part of Recycle Week several ISS business areas from waste management and technical services, through to Food Services and retail services showcased their waste reduction initiatives. It was all part of the global facilities services company’s 3rd annual Zero Waste Challenge (ZWC), created by the Waste Services division at ISS UK which has this year saved over 90,000 items from being consigned to waste bins, smashing the goal of 80,000 items.

As part of the waste management contract with Fife College, Mitie agreed new recycling targets and review avenues for change to increase the amount of material being recycled. The idea is to focus on reducing the amount of single use plastics and packaging at the site by introducing compostable materials at catering facilities and re-evaluating the existing recycling facilities to allow for greater capacity.

Client-side FM readers have told us that within their organisations there is often a need for better communications with staff to reassure them that their individual recycling efforts are worth the effort. One FM said that staff did not believe that when they segregated different waste streams recycling happened, with many believing that all waste collected was put into a waste disposal vehicle together, and no recycling was undertaken.

This kind of thinking shows why the FM sector needs to ensure that a lack of education within organisations doesn’t undermine efforts to improve recycling initiatives, and the importance of appointing waste champions and ensuring better communication within organisations o ensure waste management strategies have more chance of success.

This is why during the 2019 Facilities Show, FMJ was pleased to launch a new initiative with exhibitors Grundon Waste Management to help advise FMs on how they can improve recycling and waste management rates within their organisations. The ‘Winning waste management starter kit’, which was handed out on the Grundon stand, is designed to give facilities managers help and advice on achieving waste management success. It includes a 12-step guide to achieving your waste management goals; from identifying waste, through understanding your legal obligations to engaging employees. You can still download the kit here to help meet your recycling duties.