Waste recycling concerns in this sector often centre around packaging: finding ways to reduce the packaging input while keeping produce intact.
Another common problem is finding outlets for damaged or surplus stock. The good news is, there is always someone waiting and willing to become the next guardian. Then its no longer a waste..
Food wastes are a major problem for the hospitality and events industry. The need to ‘over-order’ and the fact that the commodities perish quickly add to the concerns of those who are responsible for environmental standards in this sector.
Waste reduction and recycling is a major concern for manufacturers, who are often, unjustly and unnecessarily, seen as the ‘bad boys’ of environmental care.
We find the often wasteful nature of production line constraints gives CSR and environmental officers a headache, with component parts back-logging in the quest to find a balance in the quality-versus-quantity debate.
This is a highly regulated industry with ever-present issues surrounding licensing, quality and the confidentiality of research and development.
Hazardous waste streams are subject to stringent controls but we continue to find ways to channel them away from expensive, environmentally compromising incineration.
We appreciate that waste reduction and recycling in this sector is not only concerned with environmental standards but also proving value for money.
For the NHS, we work around the constraints of the need for continuity of supply. Meanwhile, for prisons and courts, for example, we need to adhere to high levels of security and confidentiality.
The cost and reputational sensitivities of this sector make our work especially rewarding. Often in the public eye and with irregular patterns of waste production, players in this sector appreciate innovation and every opportunity to enhance their environmental performance.
Construction and property management are currently boom sectors and the ecological efficiency of buildings is, happily, enjoying heightened interest. We work with construction companies, landlords and property managers to find new users for ‘waste’ materials and to explore different ways to re-engineer property bi-products.
Network Rail’s headquarters building has almost 3,000 staff and a number of cafes, canteens and shops. Around 120 tonnes of food was wasted every year, including plate scrapings, preparation leftovers and unsold retail items.
After evaluating a number of options we installed a food waste digester, which combines food wastes with a unique blend of microbes to create valuable biomass in about 12 hours.
The digester has reduced food waste by 80 per cent each year. It has also dramatically reduced the number of waste collections required, significantly decreasing the carbon footprint of waste vehicles.
Filter cake from a high-end aerospace manufacturer was going to landfill – before VisionRe proved it had value by extracting precious metals.
A popular car brand produces over 175,000 vehicles a year in the UK.
Common with other car manufacturers, the company uses laminated glass in its windscreens – glass interlaid with plastic to prevent it from shattering.
Due to the mix of substances, windscreen waste has traditionally been sent to landfill under a ‘general waste’ classification.
However, VisionRe consultants have identified a specialist re-processor, which has enabled the glass to be reused.
One very large chain with over 1,600 restaurants, bars and pubs used to place its waste card into containers designed for mixed recyclables.
That was preferable to putting it in the general waste bin – but also far removed from the best solution.
We put in place a system whereby all card is collected separately and sent directly to a specialist re-processor.
Instead of being charged £10 per bin collection the company now receives a rebate of £50 per tonne.
When we discovered a pharmaceutical company was taking its waste tetrahydrofuran (THF) by tanker to be decontaminated and dispersed into industry, we came up with a more sustainable solution.
Now, the THF is 90 per cent recovered and re-used as a raw material … by the same company which produced it.
In addition to the obvious environmental improvements, the company benefits from security of supply – and saves in excess of £100,000 a year as a direct result of this change.
We had our suspicions that the ingredients of a ‘waste’ bi-product of a popular, household-name food item may have hidden qualities.
Working in collaboration with a specialist research laboratory we’ve discovered that it does, indeed, have previously unidentified health benefits.
The ‘waste’ is now in high demand and commanding a high price from its producer.