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RWM Preview: NRA retail: opening page and winner

Standfirst: This year’s National Recycling Awards, held in July at the Hilton on London’s Park Lane, received a record number of entries, highlighting the best practice and innovation that is taking place across the UK in resource management.

The entries for ‘Retail or Service Recycler of the Year’ were particularly strong, impressing the judges with their high standard, and making it difficult for them to choose a winner. This was heartening given that the sector is often accused for not doing enough in the sphere of waste prevention and reduction.  

As part of its drive to share best practice, MRW looks at the impressive initiatives that made up this year’s shortlist for ‘Retail or Service Recycler of the Year’ at the National Recycling Awards.


Winner: Booker

The judges said: “This is superb, a wholesaler dealing in a holistic way with a wide range of challenging materials for many different customers. This company is not just saying it – but doing it in impressive style.”


Food and drink wholesaler Booker Group was one of the first companies in the UK to achieve the new Carbon Trust waste standard, showing a 7.34% improvement in waste management, externally verified, over the measurement period.

It did this through reducing food waste, supporting local communities, promoting reuse, and helping its customers to recycle, as well as taking wider industry action.

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 prevent the creation of waste, or at least minimise it, through measures such as reduced packaging. An on-going 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 packaging if it reduces food waste further along the chain: improving the packaging of its Chef’s Larder Pate more than doubled its shelf life, preventing food waste later.

It actively 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, Booker prioritises donating suitable food to local communities and the under privileged. Food not fit for human consumption goes to animal feed, or anaerobic digestion if it is not suitable for feed.  

For customers, Booker has introduced a customer packaging recycling service at all branches, allowing customers to recycle their cardboard and shrink-wrap free of charge. It also allows customers to recycle used cooking oil, either dropping it off at a branch or collecting it; and it offers in-branch battery recycling points.

Tying this all together are its green champions at each branch and distribution centre, 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%.

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