Zero waste solutions

Our customer keeps the lights on, the kettles boiling, and phones charged for 8 million people. They distribute electricity to 3.9 million homes and businesses through a network of more than 63,000 substations and some 60,000 miles of overhead lines and unground cables. UKWSL were awarded a long-term contract based on our commitment to ensuring compliance to waste legislation, improving poor recycling rates and delivering a ‘Zero Waste’ solution.

The Challenge

From the outset of the partnership, both companies shared a vision to improve both recycling and landfill diversion rates. By focusing on the waste hierarchy, all key stakeholders could clearly define the difference between “Recycling” and “Recovery”.  Our customer were already diverting approximately 80% of waste from landfill with their previous supplier. 

However, this rate had begun to plateau and there were few signs of innovation or creativity to drive continuous improvement so that the company could reach their goal of ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’. By focusing on taking this first step in the waste hierarchy, UKWSL needed to work closely with its supply chain to create a plan of action. Whilst delivering this project, both parties also recognised the need to improve recycling rates which again, had plateaued at approximately 12%.

The solution

UKWSL operates an outsource business model as opposed to the more traditional self-delivery model. What makes us proud, is our ability to add value to the services delivered to our customers. Not owning bins, trucks and facilities provides us with the flexibility to source the highest quality and best-fit service providers for our customers.

Our supply chain team worked closely with 17 suppliers to source solutions whereby the waste material was sent for usage through several technologies such as Energy From Waste and Refuse Derived Fuel. Prior to mobilising any changes, all key stakeholders reviewed the suppliers and disposal routes so that we all agreed that the solution met the challenge.

It was not possible to deliver a ‘Zero Waste’ solution from the outset of the relationship. However, through clear planning and engagement with suppliers and the customer, UKWSL was able to create a roadmap to success. Within 18 months of commencing the partnership, UKWSL has delivered on our commitment to our customer and achieved ‘Zero Waste’ status.

UKWSL identified that nearly half of the estate were failing to maximise the segregation of dry-mixed recyclables from general waste. In order to improve segregation our account management team undertook a review with the customer to determine the exact levels of recycling at each location to establish a baseline for all future improvement.

UKWSL engaged with sites to understand the root cause of the lack of segregation. The initial feedback from many of the sites was that the skip and roro containers made it easy to “just throw it all in one bin”.

Following site audits and feedback sessions, UKWSL outlined the key challenges to our customer. We agreed upon recommendations for change, and the control measures
that would be implemented to ensure the transition to a new recycling culture would be successful.

Key stakeholders from both UKWSL and the customer agreed a staggered timeline to mobilise service changes. We worked closely with sites and our supply chain to ensure a seamless transition to a solution that maximised recycling and optimised container usage. UKWSL engaged with sites to provide feedback regarding best practice.

This knowledge could then be used by site managers to provide further education and raise awareness about the impact people’s actions have on the waste hierarchy. 
In addition to this, UKWSL created bespoke stickers and signage to help drive home the awareness of what employees should and should not dispose of in the relevant containers.

The benefits of change

These projects ensured that our customer was compliant to all waste legislation and was maximising the benefits of change. This was the most important element of the project. However, the benefits of change also affect our customer’s financial and environmental credentials. Our solutions utilise a three-phase approach:

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

Rationalising services by ensuring half full bins not being emptied and that container capacity matched waste volumes.

Optimising container solutions to ensure all recyclable material is placed into the correct containers.

The result was that our customer was able to make significant reductions in their waste budget. The impact of change doesn’t just affect the ‘here and now’. Changing the working culture for waste handling helps to mitigate against future cost increases and changes in legislation that will place more emphasis on producers to consider the waste hierarchy.

Delivering a “Zero Waste” solution makes our customer stand out from the crowd and highlights their commitment to minimising the impact their operations have on the environment.

Our customer-centric approach and the emphasis we place upon the waste hierarchy means that UKWSL continuously strives to improve processes to support not only recycling and recovery options, but also solutions to reduce and reuse waste to give it a second lease of life.