Waste Reduction Strategies In The UK Environmental Sciences Essay

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In the UK in 2003, shopping centres spent about £15 million on waste disposal. This cost is expected to rise to £18 million in 2004 when figures are finally collected. Given the true cost of waste there is a strong business case for taking action to prevent and reduce waste. This apparent failure of the industry or the FM profession to drive innovation in the area of waste management contracts is symptomatic of the drive towards managing innovation in multiple contract management that currently exists.

Envirowise (2002a) has identified various benefits that arise from waste reduction in business. These benefits include increased profits, competitiveness, improved management control and corporate image. For the retail sector, the greater public awareness of environmental issues has increased pressure on retailers, suppliers and shopping centre managers to improve their environmental performance. Retailers are subject to a number of regulations and other mandatory charges, e.g. the duty of care, the packaging waste regulations and the landfill tax. The costs of both waste disposal and compliance with environmental legislation are set to increase further in the near future which further justifies the proactive management of waste contracts through effective facilities management

The government introduced the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to govern waste management in the UK. This strategy is based on the introduction of a criminal duty of care that is designed to change the way in which waste is dealt with. In an attempt to promote awareness and obtain results, the government introduced landfill tax and strict control of waste going to landfill in 1996. This was intended to encourage sustainable waste management, recycling and to meet the European Union (EU) landfill directive's targets. The government expects the tax rates to increase annually till the landfill targets are met.

The landfill directive came into the UK on 16 July 2001. Its purpose was to enable the UK to meet its requirement as a member state of the European Union. It aims at reducing both the amount and range of material being disposed of to landfill sites across the European Union and to prevent or reduce the negative effects of landfilling waste on the environment.

The main targets in the landfill directive are to reduce biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) going to landfill to 75 per cent of baseline (1995) levels by 2006: to 50 per cent by 2009 and to 35 per cent by 2016. Most whole tyres are banned from landfill from 2003; shredded tyres are banned from landfill from 2006; no liquid wastes, infectious clinical wastes or explosive, corrosive, oxidising or flammable wastes are to be disposed of to landfill by 2001, banning co-disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste; material waste is to be reduced by 1 per cent per annum and increase market capacity of up to 50 per cent for three key recycled materials are to be established by 2003 (SEPA, 1999). With these targets being set, Burnley (2001) believes the UK will succeed in fulfilling them by building at least 35 new energy producing incinerators and developing the infrastructure needed to support national high-intensity recycling and composting schemes.

Limited landfill sites

Nearly 60 per cent of the annual waste produced by the UK is land filled (DEFRA, 2000). The Department of the Environment has expressed their concerns that land is not sustainable and that sites will become scarce (DEFRA, 2000). Cheeseman (2002) believes that with the quantity of waste generated increasing by approximately 3 per cent per annum, landfill capacity will need to be doubled by the year 2020 at the current rate of filling. As far as the industry is concerned, there will be serious knock-on effects as around 47 per cent of industrial and commercial waste was land filled in 2000 (DETR, 2000).

National waste strategy (NWS)

The EU requires the preparation of a NWS based on the principle of the waste hierarchy (Slater and Gemmell, 1999). England and Scotland have published their individual NWS and the strategies set out the changes needed to deliver more sustainable development. They acknowledge the need for waste minimisation to counter the trend of 3 per cent per annum waste growth, with emphasis on "breaking the link that exists between economic growth and increased waste production" (Read, 2000). Tools such as the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) are also used to aid waste management decision. The NWS sets out the waste hierarchy to assist in waste control. The now well established hierarchy options are waste minimisation/reduction; reuse; recovery; other recovery such as energy recovering from incineration and finally disposal to landfill.

NWS (England and Wales)

In 2000/2001, DEFRA had assessed the progress after the implementation of the NWS. In the "Municipal waste management statistics 2000/2001" issued by DEFRA on 16 April 2002, it was noted that despite a slight fall in the amount of waste landfilled, from 80 per cent (1999-2000) to 78 per cent (2001), the amount of the waste had increased steadily from 24.6 million tonnes in 1996/1997 to 28.2 million tonnes in 2000/2001. In total, 6 million tonnes (21 per cent) of waste had been recovered in 2000/2001, compared with just over 3 million tonnes (or 14 per cent) in 1996/1997. The proportion of waste being recycled or composted continued to increase, from 7 per cent in 1996/1997 to 12 per cent in 2000/2001. The proportion of waste incinerated with energy recovery increased from 6 per cent in 1996/1997 to 9 per cent in 2000/2001. The proportion of municipal waste being disposed of in landfill had continued to decline, from 84 per cent in 1996/1997 to 78 per cent in 2000/2001.

Landfill remained the dominant waste management route in all regions during 2000-2001. Even though the proportion of waste had decreased, the amount of waste disposed of to landfill increased.


Only around 5 per cent of all commercial waste is recycled in the UK. Little information exists as to the waste treatment and disposal methods used by both commerce and industry but it is evident that the preferred disposal route for these wastes is landfill (Waste Online, 2004). The commercial sector has been slow to initiate waste minimisation schemes. Lack of leadership, commitment from top management, awareness and waste management skills are some of the reasons why commercial sectors are slow to response. The problem however cannot be deflected away from poor contract management skills and a failure on the part of the facilities management discipline to effectively management outsourced waste management solutions.

Cardboard and plastic are the two major materials being recycled in shopping centres. Cardboard is a reasonably high value material but is unpopular for collection schemes because it is bulky - a large volume is needed to make collection economically viable. Many supermarkets and other big retailers with baling facilities have contracts for the disposal of the large volumes generated at the back of the store (FoE, 1991). For plastic, there has been a recent increase in the number of schemes encouraging the re-use of plastic carrier bags. Some shops for example now have a policy of putting goods in plastic bags only if requested by their customers (DoE, 1995).

Recycling markets

Although the government has been trying to reduce the use of landfill by encouraging recycling they have failed to create effective markets for recycling. Lack of recycling markets is one of the weaknesses that industry and government face which hinder the move to sustainable waste management. SEPA agrees that the development of local markets should be a priority. There is widespread concern that development of satisfactory alternative facilities to divert waste away from landfill will take considerable time in Scotland (SEPA, 1999).

To counter the problem, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) was set up by the government to overcome market barriers to promoting re-use and recycling (DETR, 2000). The programme is also involved in research and development in sustainable waste management and developing the necessary markets to allow recycling and composting to thrive. Similarly, the Scottish Executive is funding the re-made Scotland initiative to develop the market for recycled materials.

Waste management

The NWS has provided a revolutionary approach to waste management in the UK although Read (1999b) has expressed doubts in the implementation of the policy at the local level. He reports that 40 per cent of authorities in England are experiencing a policy implementation gap, with 70 per cent claiming to suffer from local implementation failure. This is due to the inadequacy of administration to manage the general policies proposed, identify and collect the relevant data and ensure the successful implementation of MW management. Read (2001) believes that the success of the NWS will depend upon its ability to influence three key areas: economics, public awareness and education, and industry action. Read (1999a) believes sustainable development can be delivered through the partnership between the local authorities, businesses, community groups, and the public. This is effectively suggesting that a strategic partnership is needed for the industry to recover and flourish. Read (1999b) also suggests another way is to tackle the growing mountain of waste. There are three elements which need to be in place if "cyclical systems" of materials recovery are to be effective: greater provision of single material waste streams; greater reprocessing capacity; and more use of recycled (secondary) materials in production processes. Until all three are guaranteed, the government's aims as set out in the NWS will remain "on the shelf" and not have the scale of impact on local service provision that was intended.

The NWS acknowledges that waste minimisation clubs have a major role to play in achieving sustainable waste management. Waste minimisation clubs are set up to encourage industry, commerce and the public to move towards sustainable waste management practice for economic and environmental reasons. Clarkson et al. (2002) study the development of waste minimisation clubs. They highlight that although the "first generation" demonstration clubs had realised significant savings, they had done so with substantial financial support. The "second generation" clubs utilised a "facilitated self-help" approach which had improved the cost effectiveness of clubs but significant investment was still required. Currently, the "third generation" clubs are to remedy the situation by using minimal investment, replying heavily on the formation of key local partnership. So far, the clubs have achieved savings of over £250,000 for an investment of £13,000 each. This ranks these clubs among the most cost effective run to date. Phillips et al. (2001) believe that the number of clubs will have to be approximately doubled in the next few years so as to have an adequate coverage of the UK. Phillips et al. (1999) conclude that significant reduction in waste arisings can occur when minimisation methodology is applied. Minimisation strategies often lead to improved resource efficiency and this is reflected in clear financial savings.

Implementation of a systematic waste minimisation programme can enable a greater understanding of material use, utility consumption, waste generation, waste management procedures, waste disposal costs; greater control of what is happening and the associated costs. A survey by the University of Sunderland for a number of selected companies and retailers from the food and retailing industry shows that 25 per cent currently have a formal environmental management programme - fewer than any other sector questioned. Fewer than half (48 per cent) of companies currently operate a waste minimisation programme, though of the remainder, a further 63 per cent (mainly small- and medium-sized organisations) are planning to implement a programme. Only a third (34 per cent) measures their annual waste spending, well below the cross industry average of 56 per cent (Biffa Waste Services, 1990). The survey is further justified by Wills (1995) as he suggests that approximately half of the companies in the UK have as yet made no plans to reduce the amount of waste they produce. According to a report, 53 per cent of companies believe that their waste disposal costs will remain stable or fall over the next five years. In 2001, the retail sector had sales of £225 billion in which waste minimisation could result in cost savings of approximately £2.25 billion per year across the sector as a whole. Although this is an estimate, it indicates there are opportunities to save significant sums of money. Most retail complexes now carry out some activities to reduce waste disposal to landfill, through cardboard recycling etc., but studies have found that by reducing waste at source much more could be achieved (Envirowise, 2002b). A waste minimisation programme is needed to ensure sustainable waste management. As far as shopping centres are concerned, it requires liaison and partnership with the retail units and the suppliers. The success depends on involving the shopping centre's tenants and their distributors and suppliers. Shopping centre managers can contribute directly by improving centralised opportunities for the re-use and recycling of waste produced by the tenants. They are in an important position to encourage retailers to adopt best practice (Envirowise, 2002a). The initiative however has to come from the FM. Strategic partnerships and alliances have proven successful in driving change within a particular service or sphere of operation.

An international waste problem

Environmental concern over waste disposal is an international issue and much has been done outside the UK to determine optimum waste management methods. The waste hierarchy options for different countries differ because of different geography, culture, environment, urban structure, planning system and etc. Different research is being carried out in different countries in perspectives that are important in their own national context. In New Zealand, a survey was conducted on organisations involved in the waste management industry. The objective was to gain information about the pollution prevention and waste management issues that organisations perceive they are facing as an important input to a review of the current policy and regulatory framework for waste management and pollution prevention. The survey found that the waste management and pollution prevention programme in New Zealand is vague, lacking in direction and funding and would not succeed in reducing waste production or effectively managing waste (Boyle, 2000). Assessing the suitability of different waste disposal options is critical because it determines the most effective method in disposal waste in every country's own context. Assessment of the methods can be conducted in different ways. For example, Fiorucciet al. (2003) have tested a new decision support system (DSS) on the municipality of Genova, Italy. The DSS allows to plan the optimal number of landfill and treatment plans, and to determine the optimal quantities and the characteristics of the refuse that has be sent to treatment plants, to landfill and to recycling. Using sampling, Koufodimos and Samaras (2002) carried out an analysis of the current waste management status in Greece. The investigation was conducted in the municipality of Pilea in Northern Greece on a one-year municipal waste sampling to identify the waste generation profile in order to determine the appropriate waste management options. The studies concluded that recycling is the most positively received of all waste management practices and recognised that it is an essential part of contemporary waste management strategies. In Sao Paulo City in Brazil, life cycle assessment is employed to compare the environmental impact of incineration and the landfilling of municipal solid waste (Mendes et al., 2004). Similarly, Beigl and Salhofer (2004) use the same method to compare the different waste management systems in Austria. The analysis uses data regarding the amount of household waste generated, collected and treated in a selected area in Austria. Diamadopoulos has developed an integer linear programming methodology for the optimal design of municipal solid waste recycling system. The model considers all costs, in present values, concerning recycling of products, disposal of solid wastes, as well as closure and monitoring of the old landfill, and opening of a new one. The model has been applied to the city of Chania for the recycling of paper, glass, aluminium and organic residues. Diamadopoulos concludes that the optimal recycling scheme depends on the characteristics of the areas that the city has been divided into. Also in recycling, Salhofer (2000) has conducted a study to determine in greater detail the volume of recyclable materials, sector-specific wastes and residual wastes from businesses within the Vienna city limits by using a matrix-type model to classify businesses according to commercial/industrial sector and business size. From another perspective to measure the efficiency of waste disposal, Kaseva and Mbuligwe (2005) assess the post privatisation of solid waste collection and disposal in Dares Salaam city, Tanzania. Fieldwork is carried out and the findings suggest that solid waste collection has improved as a result of privatisation. Kaseva recommends waste recycling and composting activities since this approach is considered to be the right measure in attaining sustainability in waste management. Bai and Sutanto (2002) claim that landfill is no longer sustainable and acknowledge that waste minimisation, the utilisation of incineration ashes, industrial waste management are regarded to be the major challenges in the future.

About SPAR

The Guild system has been a major factor in the ongoing success of SPAR, and is not only at the heart of the way SPAR is run in the UK, but also central to the international SPAR ethos in 33 countries all over the world. SPAR was founded in Holland in 1932 under the principle of voluntary, mutual co-operation between retailers, embodied in the original Dutch SPAR slogan: 'By united co-operation, all will profit'. The power of the founding ethos remains. This spirit of co-operative partnership between independent retailers and wholesalers to deliver a better and more relevant business has flourished ever since. To deliver this, SPAR operates a unique Guild structure, offering our independent retailers a voice and the ability to influence the decisions SPAR makes on their behalf.

CS R Initiatives by SPAR

SPAR owners Martin and David Finlay have come up with a novel way to reduce their store's waste and help local wildlife. The Finlay's SPAR on the Whitewell Road, Belfast regularly donate bread, and occasionally fresh produce, to the Elephants at Belfast Zoo. David Finlay said: "I wasn't happy with sending out dated food to landfill sites and looked at a better way to recycle some of our stock. Living and working at the foot of Cavehill, which houses the zoo, I thought that our waste could be used to help feed some of the animals. We are fortunate as a lot of the zoo workers use our store and they were able to help point us in the right direction and organise the logistics of collecting the out dated stock. Belfast Zoo are delighted and have used our loaves of bread and fresh produce to help feed the four resident elephants."

Effect of Training

The training is based on a train-the-trainer principle where Owners/Managers are trained and then they deliver that training in-store to their staff. The entire programme can be delivered in the space of a single day (we promise not to waste any time!). Even better, it's been proven to have an impact on motivation and retention - and ultimately your bottom line. Stores that have implemented the training have seen improvements of up to 12% uplift in sales, while a significant improvement has been noted by our customers.

Data analysis

Data Collection:

A SPAR located at Cardiff is considered for the current analysis of data. The data is collected from the store by contacting the mangers and sales consultants. The data gathered ranges from mid of the month, December till date. The month of December is considered because of the underlying reason of the seasonal sales that may show significant change and accurate results. The waste that needs to be managed at this season could be high and managing this waste would result in greater benefits for the store. As SPAR is a super market that runs for 24 hours a day, it would find the benefits of making its waste also a benefit or to reduce the waste that happens in their daily activities and transactions. There are five departments namely Meat, Food, Bread, Produce and Chilled items that are stored or sold in SPAR. The data is obtained calculating the sales from Dec 14 till date and the significant department that has the highest value is; Meat. There is no wonder that Meat is the leading seller for SPAR in the market as the people tend to purchase meat irrespective of the season and moreover, the store as a result of 24 hours a day availability helps the products to be sold in more quantity. However, meat is more consumed in UK compared to other departments which can be depicted from the department level sales graph.

Mostly, in countries like UK and USA, the people tend to use frozen food and the sales for that department should be at the highest level. But, the chilled food is given less importance by SPAR as the food has less nutritional benefits. As a CSR initiative, SPAR has fewer sales in chilled department as the chilled products would require more attention to them such as maintaining those products at fixed temperatures. If these are not maintained, the waste would be in huge number. So, SPAR considers chilled products to be less in number for both sales and storage. The next highest grosser for sales can be identified as Produce which has a consistent graph of sales in the market from Dec till date. The leading departments that are identified as reliable grosser are Meat, Food and Bread followed by Produce and Chilled departments.

The sales can be a differentiating factor in any department and store. However, the waste management depends mostly on the expected budget and the waste that is resulted from a store. The waste that is seen mostly from the graph in again in two departments that shows waste in big number namely chilled and Produce. The other departments as depicted from the Figure 1 shows that the sales are considerably more and can be less wasted comparative to these wastes. So, the two key departments that are considered to be wasted at a large proportion are Chilled and Produce. The approach of waste management needs to be applied on two departments for better benefits to the store.

To trace the chilled and Produce departments at the higher stake of waste and less values in sales shows that these two departments need to be properly monitored and analyzed for identifying the root cause where can this be improved in order to yield more benefits to SPAR with the help of waste management approach. This approach needs to be applied to one o these departments as the increase in sales percentage can be improved only when the items in each department are carefully maintained at the required temperatures. However, the cumulative budget and the waste are calculated which shows that the department " Produce" has shown a huge waste in the budget - waste ratio comparatively. The chilled products are less wasted compared to produce as their budget is too high and the waste level is also equally high whereas, for the department produce, the waste level is very high than the expected budget as shown in the graph.

The final result that is obtained after a deep analysis of less sales, more waste and high cumulative difference between waste and budget has sorted out the prioritized department as Produce. However, the produce has certain raw materials that are stored in SPAR are obtained from different areas of the world. The waste shown in the graph is more evenly distributed. This consistency in every week shows that the department Produce has resulted more waste in SPAR every week from Dec '09 till July '10. The different products under the produce that SPAR maintains are: Potatoes, Carrots, Cherry, and Tomatoes etc. These need to be maintained at certain temperature for effective use of these products. To make the waste minimal, they need to be stored in the appropriate temperatures. However, this is the place it is very difficult for SPAR to maintain this department at the required temperature. The underlying reason behind this is that the SPAR works for 24 hours a day and the door is opened frequently and this department is placed near to the entrance of the door for free access to the customers. So, the temperature varies and the produce department gets more wasted compared to all other departments. One more reason for this is the transportation of these materials under Produce department from various parts of the world. The below graph indicates that the products obtained are mostly from UK with a wide range of 35%. Another means of large supplier is Spanish with second highest of 27% which is transported from long distances. These importing of the materials and various products like Tomatoes, Cherry gets affected with this and this might be also a cause for the high wastage in Produce department.

To increase sales and decrease wastage in the SPAR store in all departments is mainly dependant on the individual who would be implementing the waste management approach. This approach needs to be followed by the managers and should be followed by the staff and supervisors. The employee ratio can also effect the sales as the number of people and labour would also count in the number of sales which was an attribute because of waste in a department. To increase sales, proper staffing and training needs to be maintained by SPAR. From the below graph, it is clearly evident that there are sufficient resources for the mangers and supervisor roles. However, the problem arises with the individuals or staff where the required should be four and the present sales staff at bakery is two. Hiring is another key attribute for SPAR as it may increase the sales and thereby directly resulting is minimizing the waste.