Article 13 criteria for selection:
One of the ten FTSE 350 companies identified in Article 13 new research “Business Unusual” as companies demonstrating evidence of significant innovation and potential transformation regarding business-critical world issues.
Turnover: £281m (2001)
Core Service: Environmental services
Profile: A waste management company which provides a wide range of environmental processing, recycling and disposal services for local authority and private commercial customers. Founded in the early 1980s, the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1994, becoming a member of the FTSE 250. The company processes more than 12 million tonnes of household, commercial and industrial waste a year. The Group manages around 190 licensed waste management facilities employing more than 800 people.
To be the market leader
To be the preferred choice of our customers
To maintain high levels of technical quality
To be environmentally and socially responsible
To be a good employer
Social innovation insights
Vision, mission and values
The company takes seriously the challenge of sustainable development. At the heart of its approach is the Group’s management system supported by the employees of the company. In 2002 the Group launched its Vision, Mission and Values statement, to lay out its aspirational goals. Innovation, team-working, creativity, excellence and a pro-active and “can-do” approach are some of the core values reflected in this statement.
We look at some examples of the Group’s activities that we would consider social innovation.
New 'green' products
Alongside its core service of waste management, Waste Recycling generated a series of environmentally beneficial production processes to create new “green” products.
For example, the company is now the market leader in green waste composting. Waste Recycling runs 21 green waste composting sites around the country, handling more than 220,000 tonnes of green waste per year. These sites produce compost which can be used as an alternative to peat based products.
The company has also developed technology to enable the recycling and recovery of organic household waste for use as soil conditioner. This is used in tree and shrub planting schemes alongside roadsides, traffic islands, in housing estates and commercial developments, often where there is poor soil condition.
A landfill site near Chester is one of the first of its kind in the UK to be designated “Best Practice” by the national Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), in recognition of its pioneering composting activities. Products from the site have also gained accreditation to the Composting Association standard.
Energy from Waste
Another innovative scheme is electricity generation from landfill gas. Waste Recycling is the European leader in this field, producing more than 90 megawatts of energy (enough to supply the needs of 90,000 homes) a year.
Back into the community
The Landfill Tax Act 1996 allows landfill operators to divert 20% of the tax levied on landfill waste to registered environmental bodies. WRG set up its own environmental body in 1997, the Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd. (WREN) to allocate their tax credits to qualifying projects.
Charities and other not for profit organisations have received funds from WREN. Since its inception, WREN has committed £52.8m to almost 2000 projects countrywide. These have been not only environmental projects, but also educational and social projects linked to local communities.
What is interesting about this body is the level of stakeholder involvement in the choice and direction of the funding. WREN consults with voluntary local advisory panels who have local knowledge and in many cases specialist skills. Thus WREN has been able to redirect the funds back into the communities that most need them to improve their social, physical and natural environment.
The Group’s policy on landfill has been to restore each site on an individual basis in agreement with local stakeholders and in keeping with the local environment. The overall aim is that there should be no net loss in biodiversity and that any actions should add value to the local area. In Oxfordshire, in a former 8 hectare sand and gravel quarry, a woodland and wetland area has been created.
The business benefit
Through its enterprising and innovation-focused approach, Waste Recycling has pushed the boundaries of best practice and performance.
The company has pro-actively engaged with new legislative challenges in waste management. Alongside this it has demonstrated commitment to maintaining high standards of service and customer satisfaction. The company has achieved good levels of growth and gained long-standing contracts with more than 40 local authorities around the country.
Waste Recycling has recognised the importance of sustainable development and the company’s role in delivering this. The company has gone further than mere compliance. Waste Recycling has delivered social innovation by investing in new technologies and developing sustainable markets for waste products. This has created competitive edge over other environmental service providers and also new income streams through its “green” products.
Waste Recycling is doing its part to deliver to Government targets but also facilitating a change in the wider marketplace to boost recycling and markets for recycled products.
Waste Recycling’s Report on Corporate Responsibility 2002
WREN Annual Report 2002
“Growth through innovation” Waste Recycling Group, 2001
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© Article 13 2004