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NRAs 2014: Public Service Recycler of the Year

Winner: Environment Agency

Since 2008/09, the Environment Agency (EA) has been measuring its total amount of office waste and using waste minimisation and recycling campaigns. This has resulted in the amount of waste it produces falling from 816 tonnes in 2008/09 to 274 tonnes in 2012/13. It has also increased the amount it reuses, recycles, composts or sends to energy from waste from 82% to 92%.

As part of its Improving Our Environmental Performance strategy, the EA board signed off high-level waste targets to reduce the amount of office waste produced by 20% and to send zero office waste to landfill – both by March 2015. These were translated into targets for each office to allow for local ownership.

“This stands out for dealing with both incoming and outgoing waste and resources, and is impressive for its sheer scale. The EA is leading the way in the public sector, but this could also apply to the private sector - it is a great example for others to follow.”

The Judges

Personal waste bins were removed and recycling points introduced. The EA analysed its waste data to see where the biggest sources of waste were coming from. As a result, a paper reduction campaign, which communicated how much paper was bought and how much it cost, resulted in a reduction in the amount purchased by more than 23% in the past two years.

A number of highly visible ‘bin digs’ were carried out in offices. These tipped the contents of landfill waste bins into the reception area of a building to show staff how much waste they had created. It then calculated how much more waste could have been reused or recycled. One such dig resulted in waste sent to landfill from one office dropping by 10%.

The EA has also worked with its facilities teams to put in place contracts that allow it to send no waste to landfill, which has helped to move waste up the waste hierarchy.

Outside its offices, the organisation has trialled the introduction of zero waste to landfill contracts for its operational teams in the southeast, diverting 231 tonnes from 53 sites between August and December 2013. This covers the waste, such as vegetation, pulled out of rivers.

The EA carries out a significant amount of construction in the building and maintenance of flood risk assets, so it encourages contractors and consultants to look at reusing the waste generated by these projects. This has led to more than 430,000 tonnes or 95.5% of its construction waste being reused or recycled on projects in 2012/13.

The Finalists:

  • Betts Envirometal
  • HMP Garth
  • Network Rail (National Delivery Service)
  • North Hertfordshire District Council
  • University of Reading

Public Service Recycler

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