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Recycle week

Posted on 23 June 2014 10:19 AM by Backs1J

This week is Recycle Week and this year’s theme is ‘Recycling at Home and Away’.

The Wombles of Wimbledon Common made an impression on me when I was a child. For those that don’t remember, they were lovable pointy-nosed characters living in burrows who found creative ways to put other people’s rubbish to good use. They were ahead of their day in ‘Making good use of the things that we find, Things that the everyday folks leave behind’.

I recycle everything I possibly can when I’m at home. And as sustainability manager for UK Power Networks I’m always looking out for ways to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill sites by reusing, recycling and recovering as much ‘waste’ as possible.

Biggest achievement
One of our biggest achievements has been the way we manage the 342,000 tonnes of spoil excavated from our roadworks last year, just a fraction of which went to landfill sites. We sort anything we dig out of the ground to comply with national specifications, then put it back in the ground when the road or pavement is put back to normal.

Doing this has cut the amount of spoil we send to landfill from 80% in 2006 to below 3% in 2010. We’ve maintained these low levels ever since.

When new staff join us they sometimes notice we don’t have under desk bins like other workplaces do. They soon get used to our handy recycling zones where they can sort their rubbish into general waste, paper, plastic bottles, cans and cardboard. People know it’s the right thing to do and it’s the norm now.

Generating less rubbish
The same principle applies at our depots where waste is sorted into scrap metal, oil, batteries and general waste. Our staff play an active role and make a big difference to our waste management approach helping us reduce the amount of rubbish we send to landfill sites.

When you consider that landfill tax in the UK is currently £80 per tonne it makes economic and environmental sense to recycle as much as we possibly can.

It’s not all about recycling though. We also try to generate less rubbish to begin with. We introduced a new printing system last year which is saving tens of thousands of pages of paper already. We’re all familiar with the ‘think before you print’ campaign to save trees and paper which is sometimes easier said than done. This new system is helping because it lets staff delete any unwanted print jobs that are stored electronically when they come to collect them.

Read more about our recycling efforts

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