Azzurri dispelling the myth – the pain of change

For many organisations the perceived ‘pain of change’ associated with changing to a new supplier is enough to deter them from even considering alternative solutions. As a result, many organisations remain in their comfort zone and operate with systems that are no longer best in class or fit for purpose, let alone innovative. They therefore fail to maximise the commercial and environmental benefits that can be extracted from stepping outside their comfort zone and selecting the right supplier to manage their waste.

Azzurri Restaurants Limited are a market leader in the casual dining sector. They specialise in Italian cuisine and operate some of the UK’s best-known brands including ASK Italian, Zizzi and Coco di Mama. The group employs nearly 6,000 people, serving over 15 million meals a year in its growing estate of over 250 restaurants.

In early 2018, UKWSL was awarded a long-term contract to partner with Azzurri to manage all waste streams at 183 restaurants across the UK. Over the course of the contract, UKWSL and Azzurri will work in partnership to deliver a minimum recycling rate of 80% and achieve the ambitious goal of zero waste to landfill.

From the outset, both parties recognised the importance of communication as being key to delivering a punctual and effective mobilisation. Failure to communicate change effectively is often the root cause of issues and can be a major factor in believing change is painful. UKWSL developed a comprehensive pre-mobilisation plan that was discussed with Azzurri key stakeholders on a regular basis throughout every stage of the mobilisation process.


UKWSL assigned a Mobilisation Manager who was responsible for the overall management of the project. Part of their role involved the early engagement of Azzurri’s operational, customer service and finance teams to ensure an inclusive approach. UKWSL’s account management team actively participated in the bidding process to provide continuity and consistency of approach to the relationship. This meant that UKWSL was able to deliver against the shared vision and values of Azzurri from day one of contract.

A bespoke Gantt chart mobilisation plan was developed to assign tasks to stakeholders, track performance and completion, as well as reviewing all stages of the process. Just a few examples included reviewing & agreeing T&C’s, invoice formatting, agreement of welcome pack contents and creating a training programme for users to be able to access and utilise UKWSL’s online portal, ‘THE HUB’.

In order to make sure that every detail of the new service was understood, UKWSL audited all 183 sites in just 4 weeks. This included a review of the actual containers on site versus containers Azzurri’s head office believed sites had. This key step is taken as developing the right solution can only be achieved if key stakeholders have all of the facts available to them. From the outset, UKWSL believed that the current solution in place across the estate was not the best one for Azzurri. Therefore, the most important objective of the audit was to establish the right solution that delivers against both the financial and environmental goals of the client.

The right solution required UKWSL auditors to focus on the key improvements:

Minimise the cost per cubic meter by ensuring the most suitable containers are placed on site

Rationalise services by ensuring half full bins are not being emptied

Optimise container solutions to ensure all recyclable material is placed into the relevant containers

Other key elements of the audit included:

• Comparison with similar sites to demonstrate best practise and uniformity of approach across all UK restaurants

• Review of site access requirements aimed at reducing collection failure rates

• Detailed collection time requirements to ensure any noise abatement orders, council restrictions or agreements with residents were adhered to

• Agree the need for education material and signage to maximise segregation at source

• A check that proposed services are viable and that managers buy in to the vision and change being undertaken

• Following the audit, a consolidated report was reviewed by all key stakeholders. The final specifications were given to the mobilisation department with a seven-week lead time to plan container deliveries.

A programme of communication with contractors was finalised. This was an important step to ensure that our service partners could meet all frequency, time and access requirements, as well as to secure their commitment to service quality. UKWSL’s mobilisation team also supported Azzurri in managing the relationship with their incumbent contractor to ensure that all parties understood the timeline to mobilise/demobilise and to guarantee there were no gaps in service. Minimising gaps in service is another key component to minimising the pain of change.


The detailed planning of the Azzurri mobilisation resulted in 95% of the services (equal to approximately 1,450 containers), being delivered on-time. The mobilisation of each site was planned for a specific day of the week and communicated via information packs which included:

• Service review documentation detailing delivery & removal dates as well as the new collection specifications.

• Welcome packs providing contact information for mobilisation and future account management as well as educational information and posters.

The mobilisation team contacted the relevant service partners the day before each delivery to confirm it was still on schedule, and then the day after to confirm completion. Regular meetings were held with Azzurri to communicate service success rates and to establish the reasons for any delivery failures and agree resolution timelines. Our mobilisation team also communicated directly with sites to ensure everybody was being kept up-to-date about issues and timelines for resolutions.

Where it was established that UKWSL or our service partners were at fault for the failure to deliver containers on-time, UKWSL committed to full site clearances where required, with no costs being passed on to Azzurri. This commitment to service excellence minimised the impact we had on site operations and budgets and was another key step in minimising the pain of change for Azzurri.

Post Mobilisation

Immediately following the mobilisation, any repeat instances of service misuse or failure were addressed through additional communication and engagement with the sites involved.

Moving forward, UKWSL has been able to utilise a range of analytical tools to identify sites where there is a risk of performance not being in-line with expectations. In this instance, stakeholders from both companies agreed a clear action plan. This included additional reviews, support and education to help bring sites up to the required standard.

From the outset, it was recognised that education and awareness should not stop simply because the mobilisation process had been completed. Both parties are committed to making cultural changes in waste handling so that all staff understand the impact they have on the environment. This is, and will continue to be, the emphasis of ongoing communications with staff. Creating a bespoke campaign such as the #RecyclingRevolution means that UKWSL and Azzurri can use social media platforms and internal communication packs to help raise awareness of performance, and the impact sites have on the environment. Other campaigns such as #LoveFoodHateWaste and #WorldEnvironmentDay will be utilised to communicate and share best practice, innovation and tools to maximise engagement.

Following the successful completion of the mobilisation programme, sites are now realising the significant environmental and commercial benefits associated with UKWSL’s industry leading service solution.

There is no doubt that the pain of change can be very real if the process isn’t managed in a coordinated and collaborative manner. It is, however, equally true that the process of changing supplier doesn’t need to be a viewed as a negative. The implementation of a new and improved service solution creates a great opportunity to engage with employees and further increase the awareness about how our actions directly impact the environment.

UKWSL lives by the core value that communication is key to managing change. This principle can be applied to making both technical and cultural changes to waste management solutions. UKWSL’s capability to deliver seamless change is the proof that the “Pain of Change” really can be a myth.