Since coming into the role five years ago, I have led an ambitious recycling and waste strategy across JLP. As part of this, the team is on track to divert 95% of waste from landfill by the end of 2013.
Seeking to continuously improve JLP’s recycling and waste management, I introduced a holistic approach to tackling waste.
First, all operational waste was divided into five sub-groups: food waste; waste electrical and electronic equipment; polystyrene, cardboard and paper; all mixed plastics and residual waste; and glass and hazardous waste. Aligning with this activity, five specialist waste contractors with sustainability credentials were selected to manage the five areas.
Working more closely with a limited number of specialist contractors has enabled JLP to manage its waste more effectively. By working collaboratively, the company has ownership of the complete waste life cycle, helping to ensure it is in line with its sustainability goals.
This streamlined approach has improved the clarity and transparency of JLP’s waste data, as well ensuring all waste can be recycled in the UK. Additionally, we are unlocking closed loop opportunities, which allow JLP to retain ownership of all elements of waste through to end destination.
There are several recent examples of how JLP’s recycling and waste management strategy has been brought to life.
To enhance partner (staff) engagement and recycling in the work place, 2012 saw the introduction of suites of colourful recycling bins. Supporting this further, a Recycling Best Practice Guide was produced.
A simple and effective process to manage the large volume of polystyrene packing materials was implemented, whereby the waste materials were backhauled in void trailer space. This facilitated a centralised and more effective approach to bulk recycling without negatively impacting road mileage.
Outside the Channel Islands, 100% of Waitrose food waste has been diverted from landfill. Fit-for-purpose surplus food from Waitrose stores is donated to charities. Unusable food is sent to anaerobic digestion (AD) in the UK or, where there is no local AD solution, in-vessel composting.
Methane conversion to mains electricity remains the preferred energy route for most AD operators. However, Waitrose also works with Adnams Bio Energy – an AD facility operated by Bio Group in Suffolk - on conversion to mains gas. It is an aspiration that this gas may power some of the company’s transport needs in the future.
In John Lewis shops, there are locally-based community liaison officers who embrace upcycling and recycling at a grassroots level. They work closely with the local community to identify where ‘end of first life’ shop fittings and décor can be channelled. Charities and local schools are among the community groups that benefit from donations.
The company’s vision for 2015 is to breathe new life into waste. We are increasingly building a network of charities capable of giving fresh life to JLP shop fittings and office furniture considered ‘end of first life’.
The same will apply to some material considered by customers as ‘end of life’ when passed back to JLP. What was previously tagged as ‘general waste’ is increasingly being classified as a resource, and the company is making more money from the recyclate to offset disposal costs.
Mike Walters, operations manager, recycling and waste, John Lewis Partnership