Ian Baxter, recently appointed director of waste solutions at ISS, outlines how FM service providers can deliver integrated waste management services.
12 February 2014
The waste and recycling industry has achieved unprecedented growth and diversification.
The confluence of many major flux points in the sector creates an ever-challenging business landscape. Heavily driven by legislation - both UK and Europe-wide - the market is also affected by transient business strategies, treatment technologies and new ideas on environmental best practice.
The sector has passed through numerous cycles. While the traditional tenet of waste management may 'simply' have been disposal of a physical product, there's been a major transition in how we regard waste.
Increasingly, waste is understood as an implicitly valuable natural commodity, not a problem. This viewpoint is however delicately balanced against the drive for renewable energy which sees us moving closer to Waste-to-Energy - detrimental of course to recycling.
Many businesses are familiar with 'reduce, reuse, recycle' as a key strategy for waste management, but the market space can change rapidly, requiring different approaches to waste solutions. The EU Landfill review, due April 2014, could have major impact on UK waste services sector development.
Since 1996 (landfill tax was introduced), the price of landfill has risen from £8 a tonne to (a predicted) £80 in April 2014 in an effort to drive recycling initially and, more recently, support 'Zero Waste to Landfill' objectives. Add in the costs of compliance, reporting and labour, and previously 'simple' disposal becomes a complex set of priorities.
The cumulative effect of these changes brings various cleantech and waste treatment innovations. Strategic investment based on market insight is necessary to ensure organisations avoid committing to an option made redundant in subsequent legislative change; or potentially abandoned in favour of innovation with an improved set of environmental credentials - according to their industry's 'Best Practice'.
Industry priorities again provide challenges. Waste-to-Energy has seen heavy investment on a cyclical basis for many years but questions arise as to whether Waste-to-Energy is sustainable when driven by the economies of consumption. Indeed, if Zero Waste to Landfill is truly feasible - with Waste-to-Energy a key cornerstone - then we of course must recognise this as a volume reduction technology rather than waste elimination.
Waste in FM
The ongoing debates and changes bring alterations to processes, systems and technologies for waste management. These changes can provide distinct advantages in using FM service providers for waste management. FM providers work across a range of industry sectors; the nature by which FM integrates into an organisation to drive best practice, and provide investment benefits and expertise in a range of solutions is a key opportunity as the market advances.
FM delivery of waste management services doesn't stand alone; waste management affects every part of a business. It's as varied as the clients served and their industry sectors. Some organisations prioritise value-add, strategic alignment or risk management, while others perhaps need support to implement/improve reporting systems to meet myriad legislative requirements. Such varying strategic and purchasing requirement means FM must provide tailored, integrated solutions.
Waste outsourcing to FM service providers offers real value owing to their close client relationships and sharing best practice across various industry sectors with considerable benchmarking capabilities.
Organisational prioritisation in waste and environmental services is a moveable feast - dependent on industry, company and strategic priorities.
The 'Zero Waste to Landfill' target has been a KPI adopted by many organisations, and the manner in which companies choose to meet this depends on their objectives. Stansted Airport for example has stringent recycling targets to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2015. Litter-picking, cleaning and recycling are a key part of the solution. As at Q1 2014, Stansted diverts 93% of its waste from landfill; most impressive is their absolute commitment to source segregation of waste materials, achieving rates exceeding 65% in a challenging environment.
In January 2014, Stansted gained the top 'Gold' accreditation by National Recycling Stars, a waste industry accreditation scheme.
The cyclical, dynamic and integrated nature of waste management means one of the key benefits FM firms can provide is in consulting - expert input, best practice and inspiration across all business areas. This may range from change management, to cleantech innovation and advanced measurement and reporting - all underpinned by compliance - and of course a shared set of objectives.
A robust IT solution is one of many FM innovations providing organisations with a dynamic view of their waste operations. It allows clients to interrogate a live system, offering total clarity on waste operations and subsequently generate measureable and meaningful KPIs.
FM companies are uniquely positioned to deliver fully integrated waste services strategy operating across diverse business sectors in varying scales. This is ultimately achieved through implementation of waste specific processes and strategies with the capability to deliver cost effective, sustainable waste services to clients.
FM as an industry should be developing innovations to improve the client's business and their own. Improved benchmarking and sharing best practice will benefit all stakeholders.
The best FM providers engage and deliver relationships, aligning the interests of clients to the capabilities and investments of its supply chain. This ensures all parties pull in the same direction to deliver real and sustainable benefits, whether they be financial, environmental, or operational.
Ian Baxter is director of waste solutions at ISS Facility Management Integrated Services