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Matching supply with demand for commercial recycling

Paul Levett

A combination of the landfill tax escalator and growing environmental awareness is driving commercial and industrial (C&I) waste producers to seek affordable and sustainable solutions for their waste. So demand is growing for commercial collection and sorting services to be combined with recycling, composting and energy recovery infrastructure.

Most waste infrastructure investment in recent years has focused on the municipal sector. To some extent C&I waste demand has been satisfied by spare capacity at municipal waste facilities. But there is now a growing requirement for capacity focused solely on commercial waste. But it is essential that solutions take into account the entire supply chain, rather than considering collection, sorting and reprocessing separately.

Veolia is investing in the future by expanding its C&I infrastructure to increase the availability of commingled and source-separated recycling services, and will use its experience in operating materials recovery facilities (MRFs) for municipal waste. A case in point is its new MRF at Castle Donington, near Derby, which opens in June. Suitable for paper, card, news & pams, cans and plastics, it is a small facility sized to meet demand from businesses in the surrounding area in line with the proximity principle.

There is a future where staff bring their good recycling habits from home to the office

For commercial customers seeking to further improve their environmental credentials, the next step is to work towards zero waste to landfill. Veolia made this possible by combining energy recovery of commercial residual waste at its SELCHP facility in south-east London with commingled recycling collections.Customers benefit from a decisive improvement in carbon footprint and a considerable discount against the annual increase, which they would have paid under the landfill tax escalator had their residual waste not been diverted from landfill.

A key element in this package was the mixed recycling service for businesses which, as in the municipal sector, produces high yields through being user-friendly. Veolia see a future in which staff are encouraged to bring their good recycling habits from home into the office, and is accelerating this process through the introduction of its ‘Recycle for Life’ internal marketing campaign for businesses.

Designed to make recycling second nature, a combination of booklets, posters, PC desktops and branded internal containers not only inspire people to recycle but show them how. In effect, the company is aiming to reinforce a cultural change in the workplace whereby the bin under the desk is replaced by a centralised recycling collection point. And to close the loop, the results of the campaign are fully audited so that management and staff can monitor the improvements in office recycling.

With more and more businesses and individuals wanting to work with companies that are environmentally responsible, and recycling infrastructure for this sector becoming commercially viable, there is no doubt that the next big opportunity for improvement in national recycling performance has arrived.

Paul Levett is deputy chief executive at Veolia Environmental Services (UK)

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