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MRF harvests energy from the heart of the sun

PV retrofit

I am extremely proud that we are able to provide Londoners with a service that helps them to improve their environmental performance.

By minimising the amount of waste we send to landfill and maximising the availability of valuable secondary resources, we are able to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pressure on primary resources and help to build more sustainable supply chains. But it is an unfortunate truth that the mechanical processing technology required to achieve this improvement is relatively energy-intensive.

Bywaters’ latest initiative has seen it find an innovative use for the roof of its flagship recycling facility in Bow, east London, which is licensed to process 650,000 tonnes of material a year. Here it recently completed London’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) retrofit, installing more than 4,000 panels. Power generated goes straight into the grid before being fed back into the building, and the array provides enough daytime power for the whole facility.

The installation was developed, managed to completion and legal sign-off by M3 Solutions, a Kent-based renewable energy specialist. Bywaters is the site freeholder and owner of the PV array and funding has been provided by HSBC.

The installation of solar PV will stabilise our energy supply and reduce carbon emissions and energy costs by around 45%. The investment is also an important demonstration of our commitment to developing a sustainable business and improving environmental performance. The array will save around 320 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, which is equivalent to powering 237 homes for the same period.

After the company’s wage bill, energy is its second largest cost and consumption is always pretty high on my radar. But it is not just the financial implication of energy use that concerns me. With so many employees living locally, Bywaters has always been acutely aware of its role in society and the need to make London a better place for residents.

The issues surrounding climate change are well documented and recent ‘toxic air’ headlines in the Evening Standard indicate that air quality is becoming an increasing concern. In fact, in a recent YouGov poll, 7 out of 10 parents in the capital said they were worried about the impact of air pollution on their children and ranked air pollution as one of the biggest health threats facing Londoners today.

The mayor of London has set out a strategy to cut London’s CO2 emissions from power stations, home boilers, cars and industrial processes, and has set a target to reduce London’s CO2 emissions by 60% of their 1990 level by 2025.

But to make a significant change, businesses such as Bywaters need to take responsibility and start to take action. The company has recently implemented a number of initiatives to minimise its environmental impact. This includes making use of London’s oldest infrastructure, its river and waterways, to reduce dramatically the number of vehicle movements in and around the capital.

A partnership with Cory Environmental has enabled us to transport all the residual waste we collect to Cory’s R1 status Belvedere energy-from- waste facility via the Thames. This saves road miles and associated carbon emissions while simultaneously providing a sustainable solution for clients and community. The use of London’s waterways has enabled Bywaters to eliminate around 3,000 lorry movements a year, further reducing pollution and congestion within the capital.

We have also invested heavily in vehicles and now operate a £7m eco-friendly fleet which meets Euro 5/6 emission standards. All vehicles servicing the capital have an on-board Dynafleet programme, which monitors and tracks both the vehicles’ environmental sustainability and driver patterns and behaviour. Reports are generated by Volvo to validate transparency of CO2 emissions reporting and overall vehicle productivity.

There is a misconception that doing the right thing costs money. However, as with effective waste and recycling solutions, the adoption of a more sustainable approach to energy provision has enabled Bywaters to realise both commercial and environmental improvements benefiting the business, its customers and the community of which it is a part.

John Glover is Bywaters’ managing director

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