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Maximising recycling at UBM


Recycling services; waste management; confidential media; food waste recycling

Winner of the Green Apple award in environmental excellence

What was UBM looking for?

UBM Plc is a global events-led marketing and communications services business. Its London corporate head office is located in a 10-floor office building in Southwark, London. The building hosts 2,000 office workers, including UBM employees and other tenants (Capita, GFK, and Lombard Risk). Mitie is UBM’s waste outsourcing partner and manages the waste for the whole building.

Following a waste audit, findings highlighted that 80% of the materials in the general waste bags were actually recyclable. Because of the public profile of UBM, sustainability is at the heart of their operations and together with Mitie, they aimed to revolutionise how the waste was managed to achieve 100% diversion from landfill and change the internal culture from waste disposal to think sustainable resource management.

How did we help?

Implementing this strategy happened gradually. First, a segregation of all Dry Mixed Recycling (DMR) replaced the previous segregation scheme in place and new recycling bins appeared on all floors. New batteries, toner and printer cartridges bins were also introduced next to the printers. Other office wastes such as WEEE, fluorescent tubes or CD / media were also collected and disposed of sustainability.

Food waste was collected from the restaurant on the ground floor at the start of the implementation and food waste caddies were introduced in the kitchenettes on all floors in 2013. The food waste was then sent to AD, which generates renewable energy and produces agricultural soil conditioner.

Collections points for clothes and shoes were equally added, with links to charities. An informal practice of re-use started with books.

To support these changes, the Mitie team re-organised the waste collection schedule with the internal waste collectors, to capture all waste streams in the most efficient way. The first shift took all paper away; the second shift picked the DMR while the third and last shift collected the food waste. This was done while achieving an almost null contamination rate by assessing the content of the bins at the same time. This way, recyclables in black bags were moved to the DMR, which contributed to the high recycling rate.

The recycling collection round was also an opportunity to create a customer experience, as employees often ask questions and were educated on the do's and don’ts of recycling during the floor collections.

Communications campaigns (office roadshows, posters, intranet and emails) supported the changes. When asked, UBM employees were positive about the changes and most questions arose about food waste.

The results

UBM’s new recycling strategy in partnership with Mitie increased the on-site segregation rate to over 90%, resulting in one of the best recycling performance for an inner-city office block in the UK.

Every waste stream that can be recycled is recycled and segregation is strictly enforced in all offices. Transport has been reduced to minimum as materials are stored and baled in the basement with the greatest care.

No waste goes to landfill, and the food waste is collected and sent an Anaerobic Digestion plant while the residual waste goes to an energy-from-waste plant.


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