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A force to reckon with

This year’s National Recycling Award for Business Recycler of the Year went to The Metropolitan Police Service. Andrea Lockerbie looks at why it was a winner as part of our best practice series

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) delivers policing for 31 London boroughs and employs over 55,000 people at 900 buildings across Greater London. It impressed the judges with the breadth of its waste initiatives: “This is one of the oldest organisations around and to still be innovating like this is brilliant. They have come up with some cracking ideas, and have shown an excellent range of initiatives for reuse and recycling.”

Within its Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy is a target to reduce the waste generated by the organisation to 25% of 2005/06 levels by the end of the 2012/13 financial year. Its Sustainability Management Plan has been helping it realise this, creating significant savings and a waste recycling rate of 77%.

Its office wastes are managed by two facilities management services (FMS) supplier contracts. As well as the standard waste streams generated by offices - paper, card, plastics, metals and glass - the FMS collect WEEE and hazardous waste. It has separate arrangements for the collection of batteries, cooking oil, toner cartridges, information and communications technology (ICT) equipment, furniture, fleet vehicles, waste from fleet vehicle maintenance, stable waste and criminal exhibit waste.

An ICT reuse initiative, which tracks each asset and identifies when assets are no longer in use, has resulted in significant cost savings - £883,760 in 2011/12 - through eliminating monthly maintenance charges. In addition, savings of over £390,000 in buying new equipment were estimated through the redeployment of unwanted ICT to other parts of the organisation.

Other initiatives include the reuse of cell blankets by homeless charities, installation of a textiles bank for employees to donate clothing, furniture reuse and a swap shop. A swap shop enables it to redeploy surplus stationary from one area of the organisation to another, avoiding disposal costs and re-purchasing the same items. While the MPS property services, in conjunction with its furniture supplier, are working with charity Waste to Wonder, to reuse unwanted furniture as part of the charity’s Big Bright Future programme.

Its Sustainable Building Project Design Guide sets itself a target to recover at least 70% of construction materials, and aim to exceed 80%; recover at least 80% of demolition, strip-out and excavation materials and aim to exceed 90%; and ensure that at least 10% of total material value is derived from reused and recycled content in new construction.

While its Transport Services division has an official policy to repair, reuse and recycle damaged police vehicle components wherever possible which has resulted in a combined collision and maintenance saving of approximately £298,000 for the 2011/12 financial year.

To raise awareness of its initiatives, it ran a ‘Think Green’ campaign which advised how to use the schemes and the importance of recycling. This was delivered via electronic leaflets, posters and awareness raising articles on the intranet.


“We were up against some really strong contenders, so we are thrilled to have won. The Met Police has made great progress in the last few years with our recycling. A few years ago we were at about 9% recycling and now we are 70-80% recycling for our office wastes and also our crime related waste, such as the things that are seized off the street that we can’t find a home for, our vehicles, our uniforms, our horse manure even.”

Sarah Foster, recycling officer, Metropolitan Police


Category Finalists:

Coca-Cola Enterprises – Highly commended

Aston University

Bakkavor Foods


Solo Cup Europe

the green house

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