Meet the Sustainability Leader: Waste Management – Canary Wharf Group

With entries now open for edie's Sustainability Leaders Awards 2020, this new feature series showcases the achievements of the 2019 winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: The winner of our Waste Management & Resource Efficiency Award, Canary Wharf Group (CWG).

Meet the Sustainability Leader: Waste Management – Canary Wharf Group

(L-R) Presenter David Taylor Smith

Housing 16 million square feet of office space and five shopping malls as well as a new residential district, the Canary Wharf Estate is a unique environment and requires an equally bespoke process to efficiently manage waste. This has been achieved via a combination of dedicated onsite sorting of waste, regular and dedicated communication and engagement with stakeholders and innovative public-facing projects.

CWG has recognised that rather than relying simply on back-of-house processes, effective waste and resource management should involve engagement with all stakeholders on the Estate, including retailers, other businesses and visitors. The relevant section of the firm’s Making Sustainability Real (MSR) strategy was devised to enhance the back-of-house waste management process at Canary Wharf by connecting with tenants and retailers, to educate and motivate in wasting less and recycling more. A large portion of the MSR campaign is focused on around waste management, but rather than simply focusing on the operational side, over time the strategy has evolved to include and engage with all stakeholders in an effort to drive behavioural change amongst tenants and individuals and make progress truly Estate-wide.

MSR aims to maintain and build upon the company’s commitment to send zero waste to landfill, engaging with businesses and employees. Whilst public areas are equipped with general waste and mixed recycling bins, contamination from consumers is inevitable so the back-of-house operation at Canary Wharf ensures every bag of waste from across the Estate is sorted to maximise recovery.

Additionally, operational staff collect waste from retailers, again ensuring maximum segregation. With more than 300 retailer tenants on the Estate, it is essential that requirements for waste segregation and recycling is standardised and clearly communicated. All retailers are provided with an MSR pack which includes a detailed handbook explaining the Estate’s sustainability objectives, as well as tenant requirements and individual waste streams. Individual waste stream posters are also included, along with an innovative ‘colour wheel’ which helps businesses and individuals to place items into the correct stream. To ensure that retailers are continually engaged with waste and recycling, the CWG engagement team visits retailers on a monthly basis to reiterate responsibilities, answer queries and act on issues reported by the operations team. This is especially important given the high turnover of retail staff.

On the consumer piece, CWG has successfully launched a number of innovative and engaging initiatives around food and drink packaging. These include the Estate’s first deposit return machine, which was installed in April. This automated machine uses an innovative 360-degree scanning recognition system to identify, segregate, collect and process waste drink containers. The unit has to date captured more than 10,000 single-use plastic bottles which would likely have ended up in other waste streams or taken off the Estate. CWG has also partnered with CPress (an on-site organic juice bar and coffee shop) to reward consumers who recycle their single-use plastic bottles via the unit, in the form of an in-store discount.

Another flagship initiative is CWG’s award-winning Wake Up and Smell the Coffee campaign, which has segregated almost a million coffee cups and recycled more than 255 tonnes of coffee grounds (which would otherwise have ended up in other waste streams) since 2017. Elsewhere, the property developer is using trackable water bottle refill stations and a gamified app to encourage bottle reuse.

The coffee and deposit return initiatives provide demonstrations of a truly circular economy in action. For instance, the plastic bottles collected by the deposit return unit during Recycle Week 2018 were sent to Klöckner Pentaplast, a global leader in plastic manufacturing, which used it in manufacturing recycled PET packaging. This was then used by Cranswick for their food products, a supplier for several retailers on the Estate, and plastic ended up back at Canary Wharf.

“[This] really is a validation of the teamwork of Canary Wharf – we couldn’t have done this if we didn’t do it by working as a team,” CWG’s sustainability manager Martin Gettings said.

What the judges said: “Operating outside of its core business remit, CWG  has clearly influenced other organisations to drive resource efficiency, and the judges were pleased to see the organisations developing such an innovative set of resource efficiency projects which will deliver significant savings.”

Since winning the award in February, CWG has been granted Plastic Free Community status by marine charity Surfers Against Sewage, making it the first commercial estate to achieve the accreditation.

edie’s 2020 Sustainability Leaders Awards

Now entering their 13th year for 2020, the RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are sure to be one of the biggest nights of the year in the sustainability and energy space, with some exciting new categories added to recognise excellence across the spectrum of sustainable business.   

The 2020 Sustainability Leaders are now OPEN for entries. The entry deadline is Friday 27 September 2019. The Awards will then take place on the night of 5 February 2020 at the Park Plaza London, Westminster. 


edie Staff

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