During the cold weather, the cost of energy bills – and the amount of energy used – often comes sharply into focus. As a result, the organisations Energy Saving Trust and Citizens Advice Bureau teamed up to create Big Energy Saving Week, aimed at highlighting ways to save energy and reduce bills. Big Energy Saving Week 2021 runs from 18th-24th January.
What you may not know is that effective waste management and recycling can also help save energy. This is an extra reason to consider the efficiency of how your business deals with waste, as well as its recycling goals.
Read on to find out more about how waste management and recycling can help save energy and how your business can benefit.
Sustainable practices at Commercial Waste Services
Sustainability is not just for Big Energy Saving Week! At Commercial Waste Services, we are committed to sustainability and responsible practices. Westminster City Council has goals of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and of making Westminster a carbon neutral city by 2040 (10 years ahead of national targets). Businesses that choose us as their waste collector will be aligned to these targets.
Why is this important? The answer is that Westminster has declared a climate emergency; it has some of the highest carbon emissions in the UK and is also an area of high water-stress. It is crucial to find ways to cut emissions and save energy, as part of the drive to make Westminster more sustainable and resilient to climate change.
Responsible waste management can help to prevent resources from being wasted, but it can also contribute to the generation of renewable energy. The following are two major ways in which we do this.
Generating energy and reducing waste
We send all of our general waste (that which cannot be recycled) to South East London’s SELCHP energy facility. Here, waste from households and some businesses is disposed of safely and used to generate renewable energy for electricity and heating. It powers up to 50,000 London homes each year.
It is amazing just how much energy can be reclaimed from general waste: every bagful generates enough electricity to power a TV for almost 24 hours. That is the same as the amount of energy for 7 showers’ worth of hot water.
Materials we collect that can be recycled are turned into raw resources for manufacturing and to create new products. This means that resources are re-used instead of creating or extracting brand-new materials. Recycling helps save energy since producing materials from waste materials saves a significant amount of energy compared to making them from new resources.
Commercial Waste Services help save energy by disposing almost all of the waste we collect in local facilities. Since we are locally based, we keep the mileage that waste travels from the point of generation to the point of treatment very short. This helps save significant quantities of transport fuel compared to some other waste collectors who travel across the country to dispose of waste, or they export it abroad. These lengthy journeys can be avoided when your waste is collected by us instead.
Investing in an electric fleet
Westminster City Council has moved towards operating a sustainable electric refuse collection fleet, which started with a plan to upcycle diesel-powered trucks that were reaching the end of their life. The trucks were overhauled with new electric motors to eliminate harmful tail-pipe emissions.
When we first investigated developing an electric fleet, we discovered that this is much more cost-effective than diesel, saving roughly £2,000 per month per eRCV. However, there is also a big bonus in terms of air quality: converting one waste collection vehicle to electric is the equivalent of taking 30 diesel cars off the street.
Our eRCV (electric refuse collection vehicle) project was recognised at the 2020 LAPV Future Fleet Awards as the ‘Most Sustainable Fleet Management Department’. We continue to trial other alternative fuels and to expand what is already an industry-leading fleet, aiming to make it more sustainable and future-proof. For example, some of the electricity used to power our electric collection trucks is generated by the SELCHP facility (which handles the general waste we collect).
Would you like to know how well your business is doing on the recycling front? Try our recycling performance calculator.
How your business can help in Big Energy Saving Week 2021 (and beyond)
Businesses in Westminster can also contribute to energy and cost saving when it comes to waste management. Here are some ideas for how to get started.
Download our ultimate guide to commercial waste recycling
This guide contains tips on how to make your waste management more efficient, recycle more, reduce environmental impact and increase cost-effectiveness, including ways to conserve raw materials and energy. Download the guide here.
Have a plan for waste management and recycling
A clear plan will help you see where you could increase efficiency and take action. This is something that Commercial Waste Services can help you with. We would generally start with a waste audit to assess how your business currently manages waste and recycling. We would then follow up by identifying better ways to implement these processes.
We offer support to manage waste, as well as training, plus help to measure progress so that you and your stakeholders can see how much of a difference your efforts are making.
Develop a sound Corporate Social Responsibility plan
Committing to a code of conduct or developing a set of ethics for your organisation can enhance the perception of your business, and have benefits for the environment and your local community. It can help to motivate staff and stakeholders, make clear who is answerable for achieving sustainability goals, and inspire your customers and clients. When you develop your plan, build in targets about how you will reduce waste, increase recycling and save energy.
For examples of how much difference recycling could make, here are some statistics:
- Recycled paper saves 31% of the energy, 53% of the water, 100% of the trees and produces 39% less solid waste than virgin fibre paper.
- The energy saved by recycling a single glass bottle will power a 100-watt light bulb for four hours.
- There is plenty of work still to do. In Germany and Sweden, the plastic bottle recycling rate is 90% but it is only 45% in the UK.
Avoid using private waste collection providers
Using private providers has a number of disadvantages for the environment and the community, including increased pollution levels and traffic congestion. Since Westminster streets are already covered by the council’s collection service, private collections duplicate journeys unnecessarily. Inefficient, out-of-date vehicles are often used, increasing emission levels. Using small vehicles also increases the number of trips that are needed to collect waste.
We pride ourselves on offering waste management that is low-cost, as well as reliable and environmentally friendly. Using the council’s existing services, rather than paying out for a different contractor, may also help you cut your business’s bills. In addition you will support the local Westminster community this way, not least because 30% of the staff we employ live locally in Westminster.
Be aware of how your provider is disposing of the waste it collects from you
If you are looking to save money, be doubly wary of unlicensed waste collectors. Only authorised service providers can collect waste. You should make sure your contractor is disposing of waste properly; if you are held responsible for illegal fly-tipping, even if your provider carries it out, you could receive a fine. This means incurring an expensive penalty, instead of cutting your bills!
Related read: How to avoid fly-tipping and waste fines
More information on making business and public sector buildings more energy efficient
Westminster has some of the UK’s worst carbon emissions and air pollution. Much of this is generated from the energy used in heating/powering buildings, including offices, hotels, homes and shops, and for transport. The environmental impact of Central London’s ‘built environment’ accounts for over 60% of the area’s carbon emissions.
For more your business can do to save energy, visit The Mayor of London’s Energy for Londoners page. The Mayor has two energy efficiency projects:
Retrofit Accelerator – Workplaces – an award-winning programme to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency for non-domestic public buildings through retrofitting.
Cleaner Heat Cashback – a boiler scrappage scheme that offers cash back to small businesses for replacing older polluting boilers, also creating up to a 25% saving on bills.
Committing to cost-effectiveness and saving energy
We can all make a difference to the environment, whether as householders, businesses or service providers. That starts with making the right choices about the actions we take and the plans we put in place.
Improving how your organisation deals with waste as part of your energy-saving plans does not have to be a journey you embark on alone!