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Take steps to profit from waste

Current EU regulations demand that companies recycle at least 65% of their waste streams, and this will increase to 85% in 2015. With landfill taxes also rising, it is no wonder that businesses are looking for long-term waste management solutions that will put them ahead of the game.

Bearmach is one of the latest to benefit. The company is one of the world’s largest independent distributors of original equipment manufacture and branded Land Rover parts and accessories. Recently it became a Jaguar authorised European distributor.

The company handles thousands of parts a week, servicing more than 130 countries from its UK head office in Caerphilly, Wales, and sites in Exeter, Plymouth, Kent and Swansea. Until January this year, each site was responsible for its own waste management, and the company was paying nearly £50,000 to commercial collection and recycling service providers.

Dean Boothroyd, health and safety facilities manager at Bearmach, explains: “When I joined Bearmach in October 2011, I was surprised to see large piles of waste materials taking up valuable space and cluttering work areas. We were recycling some card and plastic, but a lot of recyclable material was ending up in general waste and a staggering 12.5 tonnes was being sent to landfill every month.

“Good waste management should have zero cost, so I was keen to change the company’s recycling practices and culture as soon as possible.”

In February 2012, Boothroyd met John Cope, business development manager for The Recycling Company, to discuss the way forward. The Recycling Company is based just off the M4 in South Cornelly, and operates business collection services in the area between Swansea, Manchester and west London.

The company runs its own 50,000sq ft MRF with a weighbridge, sorting line, baler and industrial shredder. It sorts and segregates mixed loads into clean materials for onward processing. It believed that customers would see quicker results and greater savings if they segregated as much as they could on-site. So that is what the company encouraged and facilitated from day one.

Cope says: “Dean wanted to reclaim the wasted space, reduce the amount being sent to landfill, save money and generally get a better, more focused service than they had received in the past.

“We spent two hours carrying out an in-depth recycling review at Bearmach, looking at all of its operational processes and warehouse procedures, sifting through the bins and working out what we could do with everything it was throwing away. When we presented our proposal back to Dean, he was quick to appoint us as sole waste contractor.”

Bearmach unpacks and repacks parts and accessories sourced from around the world. In the past, as each item came down the picking line, the outer cardboard packaging was salvaged and baled but everything else went into general waste.

The Recycling Company has supplied Bearmach with a number of colour-coded high-sided box pallets that can be positioned at the end of each picking line and used to segregate the cardboard, clear film and paper from the internal packaging. The warehouse workers find it is easier and quicker to segregate the materials on the line than to manoeuvre bundles of mixed waste material into the general bins.

Once a box pallet is full of cardboard or film, the materials are baled on-site and stored outside ready for collection. Other recyclable materials are now also stored in box pallets or clear plastic bags so the contents can be identified and remain uncontaminated.

Each week The Recycling Company sends one of its vehicles to Bearmach to collect the baled materials and filled box pallets and replaces them with empty ones. Other recyclables are collected at the same time including metal, wood, glass, hazardous liquids and electrical equipment. These are kept separate on the journey back to the sorting facility.

Boothroyd says: “Instead of a sprawling mass of materials, we now have a tidy pile of dolavs [pallets] in a dedicated recycling area waiting for collection.

“The lorry arrives on time and takes everything in one go. We’ve reduced our general waste to 100kg a week, which is used in an energy-from-waste facility. So we now send zero waste to landfill, and we have the badge to prove it!”

The badge he is referring to is the ‘Zero to Landfill’ accreditation awarded by The Recycling Company when its customers achieve zero to landfill status. Cope describes it as “a small logo with a big message that translates into huge savings”.

He adds: “Before we started working for Bearmach, it was paying around £48,000 in waste management costs and getting about £2,000 back in rebates for its recycled materials. We do everything we can to keep customers’ costs as low as possible so they see the financial rewards of recycling sooner.”

According to Boothroyd, Bearmach’s waste management costs are now matched by the rebates it is receiving through The Recycling Company and, by the year end, it will be making money from its recycling initiatives.

He says: “According to my calculations, we have the potential to generate an additional £30,000 a year by recycling our waste material appropriately. So, in time, we could turn our waste stream into a significant income stream.”

But financial savings are just part of the story. Once a company can prove its green credentials, others will want to work with it - especially those that positively select green partners and insist on sustainable practices among their Tier 1 and 2 suppliers. So recycling does makes business sense.

Richard Salvage, managing director of The Recycling Company

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