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NRAs 2014: Retail/Service Sector Recycler of the Year

Winner: Booker

Food and drink wholesaler Booker Group was one of the first companies in the UK to achieve the Carbon Trust waste standard, showing a 7.34% improvement in waste management during the measurement period. It did this through reducing food waste, supporting local communities, promoting reuse and helping customers to recycle.

The group has set itself a target to achieve zero waste to landfill by autumn 2014, and is guided by the waste hierarchy. It has been backhauling recyclables to its distribution centres for sorting, baling and onward processing since 1999. But it is now trying to minimise the creation of waste through measures such as reduced packaging.

“This is superb - a wholesaler dealing in a holistic way with a wide range of challenging materials for many dierent customers. This company is not just saying it - but doing it in impressive style.”

The Judges

One initiative is to move fresh meat out of cardboard boxes into reusable meat trays. A trial with its beef supplier found this prevented contaminated cardboard going to landfill and eliminated food waste from the supply chain. Packaging is always reviewed, which may mean increasing the amount if food waste is cut further along the chain; improving the packaging of its Chef’s Larder Pate more than doubled its shelf life, preventing waste.

Booker encourages suppliers to collaborate with its supply chain team to prevent waste. By working with Walkers and transferring responsibility for ordering products from branch to a central stock team in Booker, 80% less waste was jointly sent to landfill.

With food waste, the company prioritises donation to local communities and the underprivileged. Food not fit for human consumption goes to animal feed or anaerobic digestion.

For customers, Booker has introduced a packaging recycling service at all its branches, allowing customers to recycle cardboard and shrink-wrap free of charge. It also allows customers to recycle used cooking oil and it offers battery recycling points.

Tying this all together are green champions at each branch and distribution centre, who are responsible for improving waste management and recycling levels.

All these measures resulted in the volume of waste recycled and sent for recovery increasing 24% in the past year, with its overall recycling level at 80%.

The Finalists:

  • Birmingham Airport and Mitie Waste & Environmental Services
  • Bluewater
  • DS Smith in partnership with Aldi Stores
  • John Lewis Partnership
  • London Midland
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Regent’s Place
  • The Cornerhouse
  • Welcome Break


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