Whilst virtually everything else in the world of waste management has changed over the last decade, the payment model used for the collection of commercial waste has hardly altered at all. So, unlike most of Europe, which has moved over to a ‘pay as you throw’ model, the UK has been resistant to change from the established ‘flat rate per bin’ payment method. However, there are now a growing number of waste management companies who see a number of distinct advantages to a more variable approach to pricing which, in turn, are encouraging waste producers to rethink their business model. One such company is the John Lewis Partnership, who is already exploring how, with the help of one of its main waste contractors, Simply Waste Solutions, to turn this from concept into a reality.
Mike Walters, the Partnership’s manager, waste & water resource, said: “This could just be the catalyst to help us further reduce the amount of waste we produce whilst at the same time achieving even greater levels of recycling. There would then be a clear incentive for us to throw less and, if we become even more mindful of what we put in our bins, we could even reduce our overall operational costs.”
Pay as you throw (PAYT) has become a practical reality in an increasing number of countries in Europe, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Finland, in both the residential and commercial sectors. The UK, on the other hand, has received no such legislative driver and, until recently, had little demand for PAYT from the waste industry itself. But this situation may well change, given the numerous benefits that a variable pricing model brings including a completely transparent insight into the amount of waste being collected.
What is now required, however, are progressive waste management companies who have the foresight to see the mutual benefits that this radical pricing mechanism can offer its customers, along with the investment in infrastructure and technology required to make it possible. One such waste contractor, Simply Waste Solutions, has already made this leap and is now in dialogue with a number of its clients, including the John Lewis Partnership, to explore ways in which a PAYT could be implemented.
Many businesses today are under more scrutiny from their customers, suppliers, partners and employees who are all keen to know what waste policy is in place, what targets have been set and whether they are being hit. Many, particularly in the retailing sector, have gone even further by identifying a rewarding behaviour from their stakeholders that will help them achieve their own waste targets. The John Lewis Partnership, for example, has already achieved a 75% recycling rate and is on target to divert 95% of its operational waste from landfill by the end of this year. It also runs its own awards programme, The Waitrose Way Awards, that celebrates its suppliers’ outstanding initiatives to enhance the sustainability of their businesses and, ultimately, the food that ends up on consumers’ plates.
But the Partnership is not content to rest on its laurels and is actively exploring ways with its suppliers to help it increase recycling rates and even achieve zero to landfill. One of its key partners is Simply Waste Solutions who is already an active participant of the Partnership’s Waste Steering Group to help shape its future waste strategy through its expertise and specialist knowledge. The company, based in Langley Berkshire, was also ‘Highly Commended’ in this year’s Waitrose Way awards.
Over the course of the last three years, Simply Waste has been working closely with the Partnership to help it achieve its waste targets. It has also been making great strides in providing the John Lewis Partnership with robust management data, since according to Walters, “As soon as you can start measuring waste you can then begin to influence and reduce it”. The data not only tells the Partnership how much waste is being collected from its stores, but also what happens to it thereafter, broken down by the amount of recyclates and even the amount of CO² saved by diverting it away from landfill.
The growing demand for even greater levels of management data from its customers has now prompted Simply Waste to invest in new systems and technology that will provide even more transparency to those clients wanting to reach the next level of waste reduction. In August of this year, Simply Waste and MOBA Mobile Automation teamed up to introduce, for the first time on commercial waste vehicles in the UK, the most sophisticated on-board weighing and bin identification solution currently available in the market place.
MOBA, the European market leader in identification systems and weighing technology for construction machinery and waste disposal vehicles, has begun implementing its sophisticated vibrating-wire technology across Simply Waste’s fleet which will deliver extremely accurate weighing measurements together with immunity from interference and electronic signal processing. This technology is far superior to conventional strain gauge load cells as it not only delivers improved weighing accuracy but, significantly, also means the bin lifter no longer needs to be operated at a slow speed in order to achieve a stable weighing signal.
And together with bin identification technology and integrated telematics data, Simply Waste is now able to provide customers with exact data on the time and location of the bin that was lifted but also its weight. It can also tell the customer the quantity of recyclables and food waste was lifted, if these were segregated into separate bins.
The possibilities that this combination of technology can bring is now exciting Simply Waste’s customers and already there are a number who are already thinking beyond simply better data to a point where they could be automatically billed depending on the weight of the bin. For those customers with multiple sites, such as retailers or pub chains, an average weight across all bins collected could be levied but the transparency will bring into sharp focus those sites are creating excessive amounts of waste or not doing enough to segregate that which can be recycled.
James Capel, managing director, of Simply Waste Solutions, said: “The investment we are now making into both our vehicle fleet and back-office systems will enable our customers to transform the way they behave about waste. It will provide them a direct incentive to cut waste streams across the whole of their business because if they are able to throw less, they will pay less.”