Reducing our waste and material consumption

With the world's resources being depleted at unsustainable rates and landfill space in the UK rapidly filling up, we're paying more attention to the lifecycle of raw materials used in our business, with a strategy to decouple material consumption from business growth and move towards a circular economy.

We’ve maintained our achievement of zero waste to landfill for all the ‘hub’ and food waste generated in our offices since 2012. Any materials not recovered are sent to generate energy through incineration. Between 2013 and 2017 we aimed to reduce our consumption of key inputs – paper, water – by 50%, as well as the hub and food waste we generate.  We also set an aspirational goal to get as close as possible to 100% reuse and recovery of our operational waste, eliminating incineration, wherever possible.

We’ve made fantastic progress on our paper and water consumption over the ten years since 2007. We’ve also reduced our day-to-day office waste by 61% over that period, in spite of the increase in our headcount. But, a periodic clear-out of old archived files increased the volume of paper we recycled, bringing our total waste reduction down to 46% – just shy of our 50% reduction target. However, the archive file clear-out also contributed to our recycling rate hitting 86% in 2017, compared to 55% in 2007. Much of the shortfall from the 100% target stems from non-recyclable items such as composite food packaging. We’re engaging stakeholders to identify potential solutions for this, but expect it to take time.

Our approach

We developed a long-term, waste and material consumption strategy that progressively adopts the principles of the ‘circular economy’ – reducing, reusing, recycling and transitioning to circular solutions. We implement this strategy via a combination of waste management, employee awareness and supplier engagement, collaborating to find and pioneer better solutions. This ‘Going Circular’ programme is underpinned by some ambitious, top-down, ten year waste targets. We've recently published a document that sets out the programme, phase by phase, and outlines the lessons we've learned so far, which you can download here.

Programmes

Reducing

Our waste strategy begins with reducing the materials we consume. Originally, we focused on our paper and water consumption, but we have increasingly been looking for ways to reduce our other material usage, working with suppliers to reduce the impact of everything we buy.

 

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Reusing

When products come to the end of their first life, we first look to see if they can be reused rather than disposing of them. For example, we’ve set up initiatives that enable us to maximise reuse of our old ITunwanted office furniture and the uniforms worn by suppliers working on our sites.

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Recycling

In 2008, we invested in recycling hubs in our coffee areas and removed all desk-side rubbish bins. All of our UK offices have had segregated recycling hubs in place since. We've set out more details on these hubs and our ‘Let’s Talk Rubbish’ employee engagement campaign - designed to maximise segregation and minimise contamination - in our Going Circular Lessons Learned.

 

Recycling

In 2008, we invested in recycling hubs in our coffee areas and removed all desk-side rubbish bins. All of our UK offices have had segregated recycling facilities in place since. More details on the hubs and our ‘Let’s Talk Rubbish’ employee engagement campaign - designed to maximise segregation and minimise contamination are set out in our Going Circular Lessons Learned.

Circular solutions

We’re also looking at the broader challenge of moving to a circular economy and pioneering solutions with lower environmental impact, wherever possible.

We’d already established a system with suppliers in our More London and Embankment Place offices, so that our archive paper is securely shredded and recycled into paper towels that we can use in our washrooms. In 2017, we diverted our waste office paper to a state-of-the-art recycling facility that uses no virgin wood, and significantly less water and energy than other recycled paper.  It can reuse the paper fibres up to 20 times – three times more than the market standard.

In 2011, we set up a multi-way partnership to refine the used cooking oil from our caterers into a carbon neutral biofuel which power the tri-generators in our More London Embankment Place head offices.  These trigenerators have a combined power output of 1.8 megawatts, and provided 10% of the energy in our buildings in 2017.

We send our food waste to either anaerobic digestion or composting, depending on local processing facilities, so that it is turned into useful by-products. And, to address the fact that traditional, composite food packaging can’t often be recycled, we’ve also replaced our wax cups and the food packaging issued in the catering facilities in our offices across the UK with a plant-based alternative, so that they can be composted.

We’re now exploring better end-of-life solutions for additional waste streams, as well as embedding ‘Going Circular’ thinking and innovation into more key supplier contracts to allow us to move towards fully ‘circular procurement’ post 2017.

Recycling

In 2008, we invested in recycling hubs in our coffee areas and removed all desk-side rubbish bins. All of our UK offices have had segregated recycling facilities in place since. More details on the hubs and our ‘Let’s Talk Rubbish’ employee engagement campaign - designed to maximise segregation and minimise contamination are set out in our Going Circular Lessons Learned.

Circular solutions

We’re also looking at the broader challenge of moving to a circular economy and pioneering solutions with lower environmental impact, wherever possible.

We’d already established a system with suppliers in our More London and Embankment Place offices, so that our archive paper is securely shredded and recycled into paper towels that we can use in our washrooms. In 2017, we diverted our waste office paper to a state-of-the-art recycling facility that uses no virgin wood, and significantly less water and energy than other recycled paper.  It can reuse the paper fibres up to 20 times – three times more than the market standard.

In 2011, we set up a multi-way partnership to refine the used cooking oil from our caterers into a carbon neutral biofuel which power the tri-generators in our More London Embankment Place head offices.  These trigenerators have a combined power output of 1.8 megawatts, and provided 10% of the energy in our buildings in 2017.

We send our food waste to either anaerobic digestion or composting, depending on local processing facilities, so that it is turned into useful by-products. And, to address the fact that traditional, composite food packaging can’t often be recycled, we’ve also replaced our wax cups and the food packaging issued in the catering facilities in our offices across the UK with a plant-based alternative, so that they can be composted.

We’re now exploring better end-of-life solutions for additional waste streams, as well as embedding ‘Going Circular’ thinking and innovation into more key supplier contracts to allow us to move towards fully ‘circular procurement’ post 2017.

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Circular solutions

We’re also looking at the broader challenge of moving to a circular economy and pioneering solutions with lower environmental impact, wherever possible.

We’d already established a system with suppliers in our More London and Embankment Place offices, so that our archive paper is securely shredded and recycled into paper towels that we can use in our washrooms. In 2017, we diverted our waste office paper to a state-of-the-art recycling facility that uses no virgin wood, and significantly less water and energy than other recycled paper.  It can reuse the paper fibres up to 20 times – three times more than the market standard.

In 2011, we set up a multi-way partnership to refine the used cooking oil from our caterers into a carbon neutral biofuel which power the tri-generators in our More London Embankment Place head offices.  These trigenerators have a combined power output of 1.8 megawatts, and provided 10% of the energy in our buildings in 2017.

We send our food waste to either anaerobic digestion or composting, depending on local processing facilities, so that it is turned into useful by-products. And, to address the fact that traditional, composite food packaging can’t often be recycled, we’ve also replaced our wax cups and the food packaging issued in the catering facilities in our offices across the UK with a plant-based alternative, so that they can be composted.

We’re now exploring better end-of-life solutions for additional waste streams, as well as embedding ‘Going Circular’ thinking and innovation into more key supplier contracts to allow us to move towards fully ‘circular procurement’ post 2017.

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Valuing our impact

We not only assess our operational performance relating to materials, but also the impact on society, using our TIMM framework. We valued the adverse impact on society from our waste at £6.6m in 2017, much of which occurs outside of our direct operations. We’re continuing to work with our suppliers to reduce this impact, where we can.

Contact us

Jon Barnes

Tel: +44 (0)20 7804 3015
Email

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