Birmingham NEC targets zero waste to landfill by 2014

The NEC complex in Birmingham is aiming to reach zero waste to landfill by June 2014, following the success of recent on-site recycling initiatives.

The complex, which spans a 611 acre site, includes the 20 exhibition halls inside the NEC centre and also the LG Arena. Together both venues attract around three million visitors a year.

In an exclusive interview with edieWaste, the NEC’s waste management team revealed that the complex as a whole is currently recycling 42% of its waste and aims to be recycling 50% by the end of 2013 – back in February 2009, this figure stood at zero.

Recycling rates have shot up over the past 18 months mainly due to a new on-site waste pre-treatment centre which opened in 2009, following a £300,000 investment.

Here materials are taken from the halls during show operations, including cardboard, wood, plastics, glass and carpet offcuts, bulked up and compacted before being taken for reprocessing off-site.

And last year to coincide with the Sustainabilitylive! show, 400 mobile recycling bins were rolled out across the complex to help capture more visitor waste – this has had a significant impact on the amount of dry recyclables being collected.

In addition, the NEC is now recycling over 80% of its catering waste which is source-segregated into five different waste streams

One of the NEC’s waste managers, Steve Cartmell, told edieWaste: “We’ve now set ourselves a target of zero waste to landfill by june 2014. We’re exploring avenues at the moment for the remainder of the waste that we can’t recycle by talking to various contractors.”

He added: “Historically the exhibition industry has been a very wasteful one – we realised that couldn’t continue. There’s also the escalating landfill costs so it wasn’t sustainable to carry on like we were before.”

Read the full interview with the NEC’s waste team 

Maxine Perella

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