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The Awards for Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management

Posted on: May 19, 2015

Gary, our director, had the opportunity to attend the Awards for Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management this month. This week's blog, Gary gives us the highlights of this years' awards:

It's May, the month when I head down to that fancy London and attend the Awards for Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management.

These awards, organised by letsrecycle.com, showcase the best the industry has had to offer over the past year. I've been going to the awards since the beginning and every year they grow to reflect the quality and depth of the industry. Once the preserve of local authorities and dyed-in-the-wool waste companies, they are now a great way for blue-chip companies to showcase how they are helping the environment.

I think Marks and Spencer were key to this, launching their Plan A in 2007. Covering 100 environmental commitments, it was last year reviewed and renamed Plan A 2020, committing the company to another set of goals over seven years.

Plan A showed that a company can do more than pay lip service to recycling, they can make it part of their brand values. Since then we've seen a range of companies looking at how they can close the loop on their production processes, saving money and improving their environmental credentials in the process. An award for this work is the icing on the cake.

This year Novelis were a shining example in the Circular Economy Success category. The rolled aluminium supplier plans to increase the recycled content of its products from 33% to 80% by 2020. By recycling the same material they produce they are turning their customers into suppliers. Equally, O2 won the Waste Management Initiative in the Commercial and Public Sector because they have so far recycled 1.4 million devices in partnership with Redeem, creating a cradle to grave relationship with customers.

I was delighted to be on a table with two finalists, both in the Recycling Business of the Year category. PHS Waste Management, Attleborough were shortlisted because they are processing 90 tonnes of fluorescent tubes here in Norfolk. The company, known originally for its hygiene services, now has 17 divisions, covering data shredding, difficult wastes and work-wear. Meanwhile Simply Cups is trying to recover as many of the 2.5 billion paper cups put into the UK waste stream annually (yes you did read that right) as it can, and is currently setting its sights on 6 million per year.

Both were strong contenders, and the atmosphere around the table was jovial. But the tension grew when we reached their category, and the winner was announced as PHS.

There was further joy for Norfolk when the winner of the Retail Recycling Champion category was announced as Norwich's INTU Chapelfield, which is now sending zero waste to landfill, of which over 65% is recycled. Norfolk is a county often derided, so it's great to see it in the spotlight here, as it has been in other media recently (we also have the Radio 1 Big Weekend this summer at the UEA, just opposite The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts which was featured in the new Avengers film!)

It was a great afternoon, enlivened by the host, Eamonn Holmes, whose self-deprecation and dry wit put everybody in a good mood, apart from perhaps letsrecycle.com editor Steve Eminton, who was the butt of a joke about his beloved Southampton FC. To be fair he did start it. Here's to next year.

Awards for Excellence 2015