Case study: Allen & York Slash Waste to Landfill Output

A leading recruitment specialist serving the natural and built environment sectors in the UK has made adjustments to its environmental policy, taking major steps in supporting sustainability. Tanya Bright, from Allen and York, explains how the company has driven down its impact on the environment.

Allen & York (A&Y) recognises and understands the importance of protecting the environment and promoting best practice, which led to the "greening" of their offices situated in Dorset, England.

Envirowise - the Government initiative providing practical environmental advice for business - was brought in to offer guidance and identify further ways to improve their environmental performance.

Waste to landfill, energy usage, water usage and transport were areas that were categorised to have significant environmental impact.

Working towards "zero waste" by producing less waste is one of Government's current goals for businesses. DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has put a strong emphasis on waste prevention and re-use.

A wormery, for compostable waste, has been implemented to reduce A&Y's waste to landfill by 50%. Worms digest food waste turning it into high quality compost that can be mixed into the soil when introducing new plants or added to houseplants.

In line with The Municipal Waste Recycling Act 2003 - which recognised that separation of materials at source is the key to proper management of the municipal waste stream - individual dustbins were replaced by a central rubbish collection point where three bins recycle plastic bottles, paper and cardboard and one bin took general waste.

By reducing the waste that gets taken to landfill sites, a large percentage of methane emissions that are produced as organic waste breaks down - currently 3% of UK greenhouse gas emissions - are being reduced.

Energy usage throughout the office could be minimised by 20% through no- and low-cost measures. Heat controls were installed for the heating, replacing a basic 'On/Off switch' with a thermostat.

Three water coolers were removed and a filter was fitted to the mains water on both levels of the building, saving on electricity to cool or heat the water coolers which had to be on continuously. There was a cost saving on the water - and a green saving on the transportation to deliver.

A number of strip-light bulbs from each lighting bank were removed as the office was over-lit, capitalising on the use of natural light.

Mark Allen, managing director, said: "I believe that our main corporate social responsibilities are to the environment as well as the interests of our stakeholders.

"Given the industry that we are in, it is important for us to be forward-focused and continually improving in this area."

An organisation's water usage contributes to their carbon footprint, but the Envirowise audit recognised that Allen & York's level of water use was well below the industry average, and therefore reinforced their claim of being a Carbon Neutral Company.

The concept of sustainable development is an integral part of Allen & York's environmental policy and Green Office Guide, promoting the sustainable use of transport for commuting and business travel through car sharing, bike riding and public transport over single car use.

The efficient use of resources - encompassing the Action Plan; reduce, re-use, recycle - has encouraged A&Y to embark on the journey to becoming increasingly paperless.

"As committed recyclers, I feel that we can help to set the standards of resource sustainability - not just in staffing provision but also in the way we operate," Mr Allen added.

www.allen-york.com

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