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.
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.
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 9% of the energy in our buildings in 2019.
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 plastic-lined 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 commercially composted.
We’re now exploring better end-of-life solutions for additional hard-to-treat waste streams, such as stationery and foil-backed food packaging, as well as embedding ‘Going Circular’ thinking and innovation into more key supplier contracts to allow us to move towards fully ‘circular procurement’.