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Viridor first in sector to sign up to Slave-Free Alliance

Viridor, through its parent company Pennon, has joined a membership scheme that provides expertise for businesses to identify and act on cases of forced labour.

The Slave-Free Alliance (SFA) is part of the Hope for Justice charity that works directly with victims of modern slavery.

Viridor is the first waste management company to sign up for SFA’s services.

SFA teams, which include people with backgrounds in criminal investigations and public protection, are able to help potential victims and take them to a place of safety.

The organisation says many victims are either unwilling or unable to go to the police, and the need for an alternative is “distinct and urgent”.

Hope for Justice has said more than two-thirds of victims of modern slavery in the UK are made to work in a recycling or waste facility during their time in exploitation.

Viridor said its staff were encouraged to identify and report any potential breaches of its anti-slavery and human trafficking policy.

A spokesperson said: “The point is emphasised through training programmes and by monitoring suppliers. The company has also developed a closer relationship with the main provider of agency workers as part of robust measures and an increased focus on this issue.

“Viridor believes that the expertise and guidance the SFA can offer will further empower our employees to be ever-vigilant.”

Paul Callum, SFA director, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Viridor and the wider Pennon Group as the newest members of the SFA, which has grown incredibly quickly since our launch just under six months ago.

”We at Hope for Justice are keen to see the waste management industry engage in the fight against modern slavery because the sector has been shown to be particularly vulnerable to traffickers and exploitative labour.

”We are sure Viridor will be the first of many in the sector to join up and benefit from the services we can provide to our members, and we would like to thank MRW for its focus on this vital issue in recent months.

”We hope to see modern slavery continuing to rise up the agenda both in Westminster and in the boardrooms, offices and facilities of the UK waste and recycling sector.”

In addition to its whistleblowing policy, Viridor has introduced a 24-hour, multi-lingual hotline called SpeakUp which is hosted by a third party organisation. Viridor suppliers are also required to sign up to a code of conduct.

The company spokesperson added: “In relation to our supply chain, due diligence is carried out prior to entering into a new contract and we can conduct audits on suppliers throughout the life cycle of a contract.”

The SFA also has members from utilities, insurance, retail, professional services, transport, automotive, food manufacture, facilities management, recruitment, wholesale, legal and manufacturing sectors.

All money made by the Alliance is reinvested into charitable anti-slavery projects.

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