The judges said: “This is an excellent example of how communication, information and awareness can achieve significant results. This is very good practice shown by an entry balances carrot, stick and education.”
The waste management team at Regent’s Place in London has long-term aims to reduce the residual waste stream on site and focus on extracting the organic and recyclable streams. It wants to do this while delivering efficient waste monitoring and charging to its tenants, and ensuring frequent and thorough training for staff at all levels.
In January 2013, retail and office tenants on the site were already accustomed to a culture of separating waste into the recyclable streams of glass, paper and plastic and a residual waste stream, collected by Bywaters.
In 2014, it introduced a food waste stream and encouraged the occupiers to minimise their residual waste by focusing on the new food waste stream. The team aims to introduce food bins to all floors, and to encourage tenants to use them. Bins for non-recyclable waste have therefore been replaced with smaller containers, which will eventually be phased out so that they are minimal in each building.
Since the summer of 2013, the team has focused its attention on two buildings, 350 Euston Road and 20 Triton Street, and gradually removed the majority of residual waste bins from all floors. At 350 Euston Road, the recycling rates had plateaued at around 65-70%. Although adjustments could be made in the building, they would have a small effect on the overall figures. Use of the phased reduction of residual waste bins on the tenant floors at 350 Euston Road has seen marked improvements in the recycling rates for the building. There has been an increase in recycling rates from 63% in July 2013 to 91% in August 2013, which had increased to 97% by the end of 2013. This is an overall increase of 32% from January to December 2013.
In order to ensure good practice, food bins have been installed not only on occupier floors, but also in building management offices, to lead by example. The management team has also worked closely with individual retail tenants on the campus to target their waste streams. For example, Giovanni Rana, a restaurant on site, was producing a high level of non-recyclable waste. The restaurant, which has food deliveries that are usually packaged in cardboard or plastic, had no reason to be producing such high levels of general waste, so the campus manager went through the bins with the restaurant team and explained that it could easily achieve zero non-recyclable waste by using the recyclable and food streams correctly.
In order to reduce the level of food waste being removed from the site, the management team has invested in two food digesters for the campus. Each machine is able to digest up to two tonnes of food waste per month saving approximately £11,000, once the pay-pack period of two years has passed. This saving will be re-invested into further waste saving initiatives, such as purchasing a third digester.
A new charging system was introduced across the campus in 2013 and applied to the waste produced by occupiers on the site, both recyclable and non-recyclable. Previously, tenants were charged in proportion to the space leased, but the new system means that companies are charged according to the percentage of waste they generate, from the building’s total waste production. As the collection charge for residual waste is almost three-times that of recyclable waste, there are potential financial benefits for businesses that internally encourage recycling within their company.
Before the new scheme started, the management team collated each occupier’s waste figures for the previous year, 2012/2013, and calculated how much each company would have spent if the new system had been in place. The purpose of this, in some cases, was to encourage occupiers to pro-actively reduce their production of non-recyclable waste to reduce costs
The introduction and focus on the food waste stream has been largely effective across the site. In January 2013 the total monthly food waste taken from the site was 2.64 tonnes, which had increased to a total of 9.11 tonnes by December 2013. This increase in food waste corresponds with an increase in the overall recycling rate of the site from 67% in January 2013 to 81% by December 2013, suggesting that the team have been successful in changing the habits of those working at Regent’s Place.
The main challenge the waste management team found is the reluctance of occupiers to pro-actively recycle and use the waste streams provided, in particular the organic waste stream. To overcome this, the team has made sure that all facility managers and cleaning teams are fully trained in waste disposal, and understand the need to recycle. Tours of a Bywaters recycling facility are offered to occupiers, so that they can experience what happens to waste once it is removed from site. The building management team also encourage occupiers to take an active role in recycling by making them aware of the benefits to individual companies. In reducing the level of residual waste collected from site by using its waste streams correctly, the occupiers will see reduced costs in their service charge. An increase in recycling rates is also beneficial to companies in terms of their CSR image.
The phased removal of the residual waste stream across the site was a risk due to the possibility of creating higher levels of contamination, but the benefits far outweighed the risk. By removing the residual waste stream, staff should be more conscious of what they are throwing away. To help with this, the team produced a clear, photographic poster for display next to every bin, to explain what should and should not be placed in each waste stream.
The Regent’s Place team is committed to becoming a centre of excellence for waste management for local businesses and the community. This included taking part in the Camden Climate Week in March 2013 and hosting a facilities tour of the campus and a practical workshop on waste management attended by local business representatives.