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RWM Preview: NRA retail: The Cornerhouse

The judges said: “This showed excellent co-ordination of different tenants within the complex and evidence of good progress during the 12 months under consideration.  An entry from the whole Land Securities group could perhaps have been a stronger entry, showing greater corporate buy-in.”

 

The Cornerhouse is a 200,000 sq ft leisure and entertainment complex in the heart of Nottingham city centre. The site opened in 2000 and comprises of 22 bars, restaurants, a cinema, nightclub and cafes. It was purchased by Land Securities in May 2012. The Cornerhouse/Land Securities are responsible for the disposal of waste generated by the site’s tenants. This is done via its small service yard, which only has capacity for two lorries, one or two compactors, and has to deal with both deliveries and refuse handling.

Waste generated is primarily food waste, glass, cans, cardboard, paper, plastics, and general waste. Before 2012 the development recycled its glass, paper, cans and cardboard and had two large compactors for all other waste which was sent for energy-from-waste.

When Land Securities purchased The Cornerhouse, the site had to meet Land Securities’ environmental standards, which included a target of increasing the amount of waste diverted from landfill to 90% and aiming to recycle at least 70% by weight by March 2015.

In 2012, The Cornerhouse was diverting 100% of its waste from landfill but only recycling 32%. It therefore had to take a radical look at its waste and set itself new targets to measure all waste streams, increase its recycling rate to 60% in 2013 and then 70% in 2014, and to reduce the amount it sent to energy-from-waste, in order to send zero waste to landfill.

Through its research it identified that food waste from the restaurants was a major percentage of its waste, so it decided to remove this from the waste stream and recycle it, to reduce its residual waste volumes. It identified a company who could collect the food waste and take it to biomass, and simultaneously researched with its tenants whether, with encouragement, they could separate their food waste from their general waste.

In January 2013, it introduced food recycling, providing tenants with individual food bins. It also installed wheeled bins in its yard, carried out extensive training for kitchen staff, installed signage and took a leap of faith by removing one of its compactors.

Having also identified that metal and wood from the likes of pallets and kitchen equipment was being generated, it set up recycling streams for these materials too.

During 2013, the development collected 281 tonnes of food waste a year, sending it to biomass at a strawberry farm, with the methane providing the heating for the poly tunnels and the slurry being turned into fertilizer for the strawberry plants. People from the plant visited The Cornerhouse and vice versa, so that full understanding of everyone’s restrictions were understood.

As a result of the initiative, The Cornerhouse has revolutionised its refuse handling function. It now mploys five part time staff to manage the yard from 6am until 2am, matching its service to the tenants trading/preparation time. Tenants are no longer permitted to access the refuse area, which has resulted in benefits to cleanliness and health and safety. It now only operates one compactor, which has reduced costs in hire, transportation and electricity, as well as leaving more space in the yard.

By aligning with Environment Week and joining up with tenant TGI Fridays to demonstrate food recycling in practice, it has generated £12,500 advertising value equivalency PR about the project. It has also saved 12.48 tonnes of co2 over a year due to reduced transportation of the waste compactors and made financial savings.

Tenants are appreciative of the increased help they get with their waste, but the site does have to be vigilant to keep them on track. Each week tenants are reminded of the recycling systems through a weekly newsletter, and a quarterly update is issued with the recycling achievement statistics.

The recycling project has also now been incorporated into its site rules and regulations, meaning new tenants have to comply with its waste function from the start.

As a result of the initiative, its recycling rate compared to the weight of residual waste sent for energy-from-waste increased from a starting point of 32% in 2012 to 62% in 2013, exceeding its 60% target.

In 2014, it will join with the Sustainable Restaurant Association to work with the tenants further, as it believes there are more recycling avenues to be explored, including installation of food digesters on site.

The systems used at The Cornerhouse are now being rolled out to other Land Securities leisure properties. The site has shown that despite obstacles such as a small service yards, city centre site, lack of storage, transient staff, and the language barriers of kitchen staff, major strides can be made to achieve good strong recycling results. And it is aiming to achieve a minimum of 70% recycling in 2014.

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