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Through its Impact on Society category, the BIFM Awards seek to link people’s awareness of FM to the broader social role it is clearly in a position to fulfil. 


06 November 2017 | The FM Team

Connecting waste management services to a broad range of social value outputs is the brilliantly executed idea that helped aptly named Recycling Lives claim this year’s BIFM Award for Impact on Society. A long-established waste management firm providing waste and recycling services for clients such as BT, Wates, and Beaverbrooks, Recycling Lives has over the past few years introduced a social welfare charity arm through which it has been able to offer rehabilitation and a route back into the workforce for offenders. The firm has also introduced a surplus food distribution operation that delivers to organisations as diverse as well-women centres, children’s centres, homeless shelters, pre and after-school groups, and pensioners’ groups.

Recycling Lives’ social mission links to the prison service’s academies programme, with men and women given the opportunity to ‘earn and learn’ while still in prison. Undertaking recycling processes such as dismantling waste electrical or electronic items into component parts, participants are provided with training that improves their chances of finding employment when released. 

Those who take part in this programme – currently more than 150 offenders – are likely to reoffend at a rate of just 6 per cent compared with the national average of 67 per cent.

Recycling Lives funds its food redistribution operation from money made from its FM services. Since its 2015 launch, this programme has seen 800,000 meals distributed, diverting 331 tonnes of food waste from landfill.

Perfectly summarised as an example of “how excellent facilities management contributes to the fabric of society”, Recycling Lives combines FM service lines with clear and measurable social value outputs. Judges said Recycling Lives has had a sustained impact on society, having evolved during the last five years to develop both a social and environmental legacy. It’s now one of the fastest-growing waste management companies in the UK.

Food services manager Jeff Green says there are three distinct elements to what Recycling Lives does; the environmental side, by stopping product going to landfill; the social side, by getting food out to communities and charities; and the people side, by developing the lives of the people providing the service.”

The company’s philosophy fits the times, says Green. “The culture’s changed. People are more socially conscious. We’ve gone past just recycling a few bottles and cans; we’re thinking a lot more about the society and communities we live in.”

Emma Potter