What makes a sustainability leader? Meet waste management champions Marston’s and UKWSL

With the 2021 Sustainability Leaders Awards approaching, this new feature series showcases the achievements of the 2020 winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: The winners of the Waste and Resource Management Project of the Year Award, Marston's and UKWSL.

What makes a sustainability leader? Meet waste management champions Marston’s and UKWSL

Compere Julia Bradbury (left) and Harvey Laud of Reconomy (right) presenting the Marston's team with the award

Leading UK pub chain Marston’s operates some 1,600 pubs and six breweries nationally, making any waste reduction programme a challenge. In response, the company has rolled out an extensive waste management strategy that empowers staff to place recycling at the forefront of business decisions to the point where it has become the “norm” to segregate waste streams.

In 2016 Marston’s was operating with a 60% recycling rate, 0% recovery rate and was sending 40% of its waste to landfill. Through a partnership with UKWSL, Marston’s has upped the performance across these metrics to 78% for recycling, 22% for recovery and just 0.5% for landfill as of 2019. These improvements came as the company strives to achieve zero-waste to landfill for 2020 – a vision underpinned with targets to boost the segregation of Dry Mixed Recycling (DMR) to 80% of the estate and segregate glass across 95% of the estate.

UKWSL and Marston’s worked collaboratively to develop a strategy around engaging and educating staff, designed to address historic issues with service specifications, aligning services to the needs of the business. As the estate comprises more than 1,000 managed properties over a broad geographical landscape, a rigorous audit programme was introduced. While one cluster of sites was being audited, another was being reviewed to agree on changes with key stakeholders and a third cluster would already be implementing the changes. This cyclical approach meant that auditing, proposals and implementation could be completed across 1,000 sites in just 12 months.

Re-educating staff about the need to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle was fundamental to the project’s success. Internal signage, posters and a bespoke e-learning video were created ensuring new and existing staff were made aware of the business objectives. These tools also highlighted the efficiency impact sites have on both the business and the environment. A key part of the ongoing process has been to demonstrate to general managers across all sites how the changes reduce costs and improve the business’ financial outcomes.

UKWSL also engaged with service partners, mapping end disposal locations for all general waste. Alternative disposal routes were explored and implemented to deliver a “zero landfill” solution. These projects were delivered by UKWSL’s account management and audit team in conjunction with Marston’s Facilities Management team and the firm has seen its waste budget reduce by £578,000 per annum, equal to 6%.

The goals for Recycling and Recovery were all achieved by the end of 2018. In fact, recycling rates have been exceeded in all categories. As of February 2020, 82% of food-led sites were segregating food wastage, 98% of the estate was segregating DMR and 99% of locations separated glass bottles. In addition, zero-landfill was achieved by the end of 2018. All these achievements exceed the target and the timeline set.

To ensure that long-term cultural change has been delivered, Marston’s and UKWSL use frameworks that enable continuous feedback and improvements based on easy-to-understand data. To maximise results, auditors review food sales’ trends determining optimal food waste services. A similar review ensured the optimal glass bottle collection service has been implemented.

The project has seen numerous innovative waste management solutions introduced including installing bottle banks with monthly collections at sites; reducing vehicle movements; installing cardboard balers; maximising volume per vehicle movement; utilising reverse logistics for cardboard for some food deliveries and sending plastic from pubs in Yorkshire to Plastecowood. This firm can turn the material into garden furniture that is being used in the pub gardens.

What edie’s judges said: “Working with UKWSL, Marston’s delivered impressive results against its own targets and outperformed the wider sector. The environmental and financial benefits of the project are clear and impressive.”

Are you our next winner?

Now entering their 14th year for 2021, the RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are a unique opportunity to shout about the achievements you and your company have made during this challenging year. 

Entries have now closed for the award scheme and our shortlist of finalists has been released. In a digital event on Wednesday 3 February 2021, entrants will get the chance to celebrate virtually with leaders from across the sustainability, CSR and energy space. Some exciting new categories have been added for 2021 to recognise excellence across the spectrum of sustainable business. 


edie Staff

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