Absolute zero

You might expect a huge shopping centre to have a significant environmental impact - not so in Milton Keynes. Yvonne Shuttleworth explains the strategy behind its zero-waste policy


Although thecentre:mk is a regional shopping destination with an area available to let of
more than 120,000m2 and a non-profit-making status, there is a strong commitment towards the local community.

Unlike many other shopping-centre owners, environmental practices are at the core of Central Milton Keynes Shopping Management Company's (CMKSMC) operation, and we consider these achievable without detriment to cost or service. The CMKSMC management team intends to formulate best-practice standards within the shopping-centre industry. As a managing agent for a shopping centre, we also have an obligation to achieve best value while providing a high standard of services to our customers and tenants.

The centre's management team has altered attitudes towards waste and its disposal, and the team values waste as a resource. In 2000/1, all its waste was landfilled (about 1,900 tonnes a year). The centre has steadily improved its performance and established a target to reduce landfill by 35% during 2005/6.

The ambitious but achievable target is to have a zero-waste policy in place by 2006. The underlying approach is to reuse, refurbish and recycle resources as an alternative to landfill.

A total review of waste-management systems was done, including an analysis of practices, equipment, choice of waste contractors, training and staffing resources. A waste-stream analysis was also part of this process in order to ascertain percentage targets for different waste types.
The following actions were identified:
  • The service-road supervisor successfully completed a waste-management course to become the company's 'waste champion'.
  • A waste-management contractor was selected on the basis that they undertook a secondary picking of waste to minimise landfill.
  • Tenants producing large amounts of specific waste types were targeted to increase segregation for recycling.
  • Colour-coded bins for waste types were introduced.
  • Shop fittings began to be donated to charities.
    The company also facilitates intensive school programmes on environmental issues such as waste management.
    Overall costs have reduced, and are expected to continue do so, as a result of increased income from existing and new recycling initiatives. These have also had an additional positive impact by reducing landfill tax and container uplift costs.
    Recycling equipment has been either provided free of charge to support specific initiatives (for example bins for different waste types), or on a pay-back scheme where the value of recycled material (such as cardboard) has offset the capital cost until equipment has been fully paid for.

    The amount of cardboard baled during 2004/2005 has doubled to 470 tonnes in comparison with 227 tonnes in 2002/3, and 249 tonnes in 2003/4. The centre
    expects to recycle between 650 and 700 tonnes of waste during 2005/2006.

    The company's overall approach has led to the centre receiving an award in 2003 and 2004 from Hermes Property Management for Best Environmental Initiative across its vast portfolio of properties in recognition of our efforts to minimise the centre's environmental impact.
    Yvonne Shuttleworth is from thecentre:mk

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