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The UK generates about 100 million tonnes of waste each year - that's enough rubbish to fill the Albert Hall every two hours. Recycling could divert much of this from landfill sites which are predicted to be full before the end of the decade.
Waste is an important issue for Whitbread because our customers increasingly favour companies who are more responsible for their waste and reduce and recycle wherever possible. Annual increases in landfill tax also mean it is more cost effective for businesses to reduce waste levels and maximise how much is recycled.
We have a well established waste reduction programme across Whitbread and have set ourselves a goal of achieving zero waste to landfill by 2017. Our Hotels and Restaurants are already able to divert 83% of their waste from landfill and Costa are working hard to overcome additional operational challenges to ensure we meet our goal.
Our Hotels and Restaurants working together with our supplier, Veolia Environmental Services were able to achieve a 42% increase in the amount of waste diverted from landfill in just three years, which was recognised by the Climate Week Award for Land Diversion Initiative. We are confident that we can actually divert all our operational waste from Hotels and Restaurants away from landfill by 2014 as we own the majority of sites and contract directly with waste management providers. The investment involved in expanding our recycling streams will be mitigated by reduced landfill costs.
Unavoidable waste (from food preparation, plate scrapings, out of life products) is segregated by our team members and collected by Veolia. This represents 18 percent of our overall waste production. We support and implement food waste separation to avoid harmful degradation which generates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. If food waste is sent to anaerobic digestion plants, this methane can be captured and used to generate renewable electricity which is fed back onto the National Grid. Another end product is a low-odour, low-carbon, high-nutrient bio-fertiliser which is used on local farms.
Download our Environmental Report (PDF, 5.5 MB) for more information on our Waste Reduction programme
Unlike our hotel and restaurant sites where around 90% of waste collection is under our control our Costa stores contract directly for less than half of their waste services. This is because Costa stores tend to be either located in high streets, which only allow council-nominated waste contractors, or in shopping centres where waste collection is managed by the landlord.
Despite the additional complexity we have still set ourselves the goal of achieving zero waste to landfill within the next 3 years. We have already completed the roll out of a mixed recylates and food collection services to all equity sites in the South of the country. This means paper, plastic and tin are collected for recycling together with card and glass. This has helped us to reduce our general waste. The second phase sees stores in the North join the scheme in July 2012.We have also started to validate the waste provisions at the sites where we do not directly engage waste contractors.
Measuring our performance depends very much upon the quality of the waste data measurement. We have worked with Veolia to understand the Costa store waste profile and have used this insight to quantify current levels of waste being diverted from sites with landlord waste provision.
We have identified our major waste streams as card packaging, coffee grounds and food past its sell-by date. We have been trialling at 51 stores using our delivery vehicles to collect coffee grounds and food waste. At the end of each day the coffee grounds and food waste are bagged by our teams and returned to the distribution depot for recycling.
This allows more frequent pick-ups and more fuel efficient services.
We are even recycling the sacks, in which the coffee beans for Costa are supplied, to make the backing for our Premier Inn carpets and grow bags for gardeners! Our approach to waste and recycling is another example of how we combine running an efficient business with caring for our environment and being a responsible community partner.