Green Business Network
1445 tonnes of waste a year diverted from landfill
Weber’s resource efficiency story begins back in 2005, when the company joined GBN’s Resource Efficiency Club and started to look at environmental management. A visit from Envirowise helped environmental, health and safety manager Sara Kelly to identify where efficiencies could be implemented to save money and reduce waste.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Weber’s major waste problem came from cement based powder waste, usually resulting from inaccurate weight, loss of powder from bags or spillage. Just to compound the problem, in its raw state, cement based powder is classified as hazardous waste. And Weber was generating this at a rate of 1445 tonnes a year.
This waste was costing the company £130 per tonne for disposal, £33 for transport, not to mention the wasted time, energy and labour to produce the product. And let’s not forget escalating landfill taxes.
Finding ways of reducing this waste became Sara Kelly’s number one priority – and it proved to be extremely challenging, but her tenacity has yielded excellent results for Weber. A three-pronged approach proved to be the most effective way of disposing of this waste stream.
Firstly, working practices were investigated and quality monitoring improvements have been made to cut down generating the waste in the first place, but powder behaves like, well powder, and has a tendency to spill and escape from containers. So, while this reduced the problem, there was still a substantial amount of waste being generated.
The second solution: setting the cement into blocks, makes the material inert, which means it is no longer classified as hazardous. This reclassification alone saves as much as £3253 per load – taken over a year, this is a saving of £120,000.
Another avenue Weber has been exploring is that setting the cement makes it into a useable product rather than waste, as it can be crushed to be used as hardcore in construction projects.
The third stream for this waste product, however, was by far the best. Weber made contact with Envirotreat – a company involved in land reclamation projects – who “bought” the bagged powder to mix with its own e-clays to provide bedding for new developments. These projects involve creating barriers to prevent leachates escaping or contaminating land that is being used for building or other projects. To date, 90 tonnes of material have been used in this way.
Weber has also improved its working practices relating to keeping hazardous and other waste segregated, which has resulted in further savings of £17,037.
Alongside working on resource efficiency measures and environmental improvements, Sara has also been instrumental in the company achieving the prestigious ISO 14001 registration in 2007. According to Sara, “Implementing an environmental management system has helped enormously in identifying areas where we can make savings by managing what we do in a considered and methodical way.”
Where to next? Never a person to rest on her laurels, Sara is now looking at further cost savings measures, including corrugated cardboard recycling, reworking quality assurance tested bags, staff awareness training, and urinal flush controls.
And Sara’s verdict on being involved with GBN and its Resource Efficiency Project. She says, “It has been invaluable: networking with other companies in the area and free waste awareness training has helped us find routes for diverting our waste from landfill and reduce our costs and the GBN seminars were ideal training and networking for help with implementing ISO 14001”