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KAREN CANNARD: Going for gold by reducing waste

A personal view
A personal view

Earlier this month I had the privilege of joining the judging panel for the Zero Waste Awards, bringing with it a chance to review an exciting range of applications from organisations around the UK that are making great strides in reducing waste.

Promoted by London-based Environment Media Group and LetsRecycle.com, the awards attract applications from manufacturers, retailers, shopping centres, the hospitality sector, service providers and public organisations.

Whether they’re a well-known brand or a small business, they have one thing in common, the recognition that reducing waste matters to their business and a proven commitment to creating lasting change.

Unlike many other national award schemes, applicants are not pitched against each other in competition. Instead, successful entries are each recognised on merit of achievement with bronze, silver or gold accolades awarded accordingly. So whether you’ve achieved a successful entry-level recycling rate or have managed to embed new practices to reach the more ambitious goal of Zero Waste, there are benefits in applying.

As I was reading the individual achievements, it struck me how far things have come in the last few years, not just in the increased opportunities for business recycling but how waste reduction and waste prevention are being increasingly recognised as drivers for financial savings as well as environmental sustainability.

For some organisations, increasing the range of recycling streams to reduce landfill charges is their first waste reduction goal but for others, it doesn’t stop there.

Zero Waste leaders are also demonstrating savings from re-evaluating processes or collaborating with their supply chain to reduce the amount of excess materials that go into or out of their business. Others have replaced single-use disposable components of their operations with reusable solutions.

It’s motivating to witness the range of experience being shared, with some organisations recognising that they are just starting out but are not afraid of declaring their commitment to a longer-term strategy to do more, to keep exploring solutions, with ambitious targets in mind. I’m going to find it interesting following their progress.

The awards are free to enter and I would encourage any local organisation that is actively reducing its waste footprint to check out the Zero Waste Awards website and apply for the next round. Whether your focus is on waste prevention, reuse, recycling or energy recovery, it’s a great opportunity for public recognition of successful projects and to join a network of like-minded organisations, sharing best practice.

Award recognition lasts for two years, with continuing opportunities to apply for a higher category in line with latest achievements.

Bridgebrooke Energy is one example of a local business that has been recognised in recent years, receiving a Bronze Zero Waste Award for the sustainable design and development of its ‘Hotties’ Heat Logs, a solid fuel created from clean recycled wood residues using renewable energy.

I know there are many other potential award winners too and there’s a real opportunity to put West Suffolk enterprises on the national Zero Waste map. So, if you’re inspired and have a story to share, please head over to www.zerowasteawards.com.

And with a more local focus, I’m also looking forward to the results of the forthcoming Creating the Greenest County awards, which will be announced at Snape Maltings on 15 April.

Congratulations and good luck to all those who have been shortlisted.

To keep up with the latest news, visit www.greensuffolk.org and if you missed the boat this year, be sure to apply when entries reopen later this year.

-- Looking for tips and ideas to take your organisation to the next level of resource efficiency? Check out www.wrap.org.uk/content/business-resource-efficiency-hub. Another interesting resource specific to the retail sector is www.retailenvironment.co.uk.