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RWM Preview: NRA retail: London Midland

London Midland

The judges said: “This is an excellent example of what a large, complex business can achieve and the emphasis on reuse is appreciated. This has very good staff engagement and senior management buy-in.”


London Midland operates train services through the heart of England from London in the south, to Birmingham in the Midlands and Liverpool in the North West. It manages 148 stations, provides around 60 million passenger journeys a year, and employs around 2,300 people to deliver these services.

Managing waste is a big challenge for a rail operator. Much of the non-hazardous waste it manages arises from passengers bringing food, drink, newspapers and magazines on board and tenants who operate businesses at its stations.

It can therefore only achieve good recycling results by influencing what its passengers and tenants do with their waste and working closely with its waste service providers to manage the waste responsibly.

At the start of its rail franchise, it was recycling around 58% of this type of non-hazardous waste. This was good performance at that time, but the operator knew it could do better.

So, along with other environmental key performance indicators, it committed itself to calculating waste arisings on a four-weekly basis and reporting them internally to its board, in order to give them the right level of management focus.

It also set up an Environmental Leadership Group, chaired by its managing director, to oversee environmental performance. And it identified two areas it wanted to manage strategically, to deliver a step change in its environmental performance: waste and energy. To help with this, it set up three executive-led working groups: a waste and recycling group, to focus on reducing the waste it generates, encourage more recycling and moving residual waste away from landfill; a traction energy group to focus on reducing the energy needed to run trains; and a premises energy group to focus on the energy and utility use at stations, railway sidings, points/offices and train maintenance depots.

The waste and recycling working group is chaired by the engineering director who is passionate about recycling and has enlisted help from staff across the business, from train crew, to cleaning crew, to IT. Key contractors are also part of the team, an entirely voluntary initiative, and team members are responsible for identifying opportunities to recycle more and deliver zero waste to landfill in their own parts of the business. In effect, members of the waste and recycling group are waste champions for the business.

The group meets every six weeks and reviews performance, shares best practice and helps to implement change. Its aims are simple: to reduce waste arisings, recycle more and avoid landfill.

It focused its waste reduction efforts on its own operational waste, and introduced an internal freecycle service, to encourage staff to share unneeded materials and equipment rather than asking for a skip. This has helped to identify ‘waste’ like old benches and furniture, which it has then been able to assign to other sites instead of throwing it away and buying new.

It also worked with its supply chain to reduce the amount of packaging on its supplies, which has resulted in significant waste reductions.

By working its waste services provider, Biffa, it has provided recycling and general waste bins at all of its facilities, and increased the percentage of this waste that is recycled. In January 2014 this figure was 98.8%, while its average annual recycling figure was 95.32%. In 2013, it prevented the landfill of 2,307 tonnes of waste.

Hazardous wastes are also produced by its operations, mainly oil and solvents. With a new contract in place, data has only started being collected recently, but reporting shows recycling rates are in the region of 99%. Its new contract stipulates good waste management practice and pre-treatment, recycling or energy recovery to be used. Data from its new contractor will help the business create a map of waste across the business, so that further increase recycling. New colour-coded bins being introduced at its depots should also prevent others wastes being inadvertently placed in yellow spill kit containers for fluids and oils.

The business is committed to achieving zero waste to landfill, and also plans to improve its data quality by creating London Midland specific conversion factors. It plans to focus further efforts on its materials and downstream impacts.

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