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NRAs 2015 Best Business Partnership: Unipart Technology Logistics and Sky

Unipart Technology Logistics (UTL) is a logistics operation that has provided media company Sky with an added value service for waste management.

It works with Sky to take back and recycle obsolete stock, equipment and packaging at a single source – generated from Sky’s 13 million customers and network of 2,700 engineers.

The pair joined forces in 2004, and since then have worked together to set targets, improve recycling, find innovative ideas for reuse, and educate those inside and outside the organisation about the importance of sustainability through working with a school and in-house education.

To achieve the highest levels of recycling, its processes are completed using manual sorting. Everything that comes back to UTL is logged and tracked through to the point at which it is recycled. UTL set itself a target to recycle 99%, with ambitions to raise this to 100%, and it aims to continue working with Sky to ensure that no waste is left in customer homes, zero waste is sent to landfill and that it remains carbon neutral.

“We were impressed by the cradle-to-cradle approach that utl takes with sky. This included feeding into the design of new products. It was evident that the organisations are passionate about the initiatives in place and have senior management commitment.”

Judges’ comment

Through creating incentives to receive additional waste from the engineer field, UTL increased the volume of material recycled by 257% in four years. In 2011 it recycled 700 tonnes and this has risen to 2,500 tonnes a year. UTL has also developed its processes so that it can now recycle more than 16,000 Sky product lines compared with only the set top boxes and dishes it was recycling a few years ago.

All waste UTL receives from Sky engineers is manually sorted by its dedicated waste team in Baginton, and non-recyclable waste is sent to become a refuse derived fuel.

Innovative thinking has been applied to reusing returned products where possible.

Unipart Technology Logistics and Sky

For example, a key part of a Sky engineer’s safety equipment is a safety rope, which is returned to UTL either due to damage or expiry of its recommended shelf life. Instead of sending the rope for energy recovery, UTL now donates this to a company that specialises in producing dog leads and pet mats, which directly benefits a service personnel’s charity.

It is continually trying to put the waste hierarchy into practice, and is currently working with Sky and manufacturers to source an alternative, recyclable material that can be used for the blue shoe covers that Sky engineers wear when entering a customer’s home because the most economic solution for the current versions is energy recovery.     


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