This year we aimed to increase the amount of waste we recycle as an entire business by at least 3%. We have managed to surpass this to 4.4%, taking our overall recycling rate this year to 82%.
Out of a total of 2,300 stores, 618 can recycle 95% of their waste compared to 347 last year. A further 351 stores recycle over 65% of their waste. The remaining 1331 stores are in shopping centres, where waste management is the responsibility of the centre’s landlord. We are involved in ongoing dialogue with centre owners to support a regime of continuous improvement. Signs are encouraging, landlords are engaging in helpful conversations around how we might work better together as the Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment starts to have greater impact.
Through these meetings this year we can confirm that so far 350 recycle 65% or more of their waste. We plan to investigate more stores next year. Our stores demonstrate that, where we control the store’s waste, we can drastically increase the amount of waste recycled. For instance, Outfit was the first Arcadia brand to achieve full recycling at all their stores and, as a result, Outfit Bradford won a Severnside Recycling Award for maximising recycling in May 2010. Since then they have been leaders in waste reduction initiatives.
Last year we reported on a trial of using empty vehicles returning from stores to distribution centres in order to transport cardboard and polythene for recycling.
This has expanded to 17 stores and is demonstrating success in terms of more efficient recycling. We had aimed to expand this to 30 stores so this is an ongoing project.
It is not just our stores and distribution centres that are the focus of waste reduction and recycling as we have embarked on some new initiatives within our head offices this year.
We undertook an exercise to measure just how much paper we were discarding at printer and copier stations around our main head office buildings. At the end of every working day a team would visit each location and gather uncollected printouts. We then reused the paper by turning it into 250-page A5 bound notepads that could be used by employees.
We have made this a permanent process, saving enough waste to create more than 100 of these notebooks for employees each month, instead of buying new ones. Clearly the long-term solution is to dissuade colleagues from creating waste in the first place and we will work with our Green Champions to ensure this message is getting through.
Our IT team, which boasts a number of Green Champions, has replaced paper reports with on screen reporting for data warehousing. This alone has saved several million sheets of paper – the equivalent of more than 60 trees. In stores we are sending as much communication as possible via our in-store intranet, which also saves on printing as well as transport emissions.
Our IT team has also been working on the environmentally friendly disposal of redundant computer equipment. As that equipment is ‘retired’ we are replacing energy inefficient CRT screens with flat LCD versions that offer further power savings.
The Sustainable Store
Our plan to establish an iterative blueprint for our stores to ensure their environmental impact is minimised continues to be a work in progress. Last year we discovered that using an existing store as a ‘live’ testing ground was both unfeasible and uneconomic. Instead we are focusing on creating elements of a trial store at our head offices that can benefit from input from our purchasing, maintenance, store design and property teams. Currently we have established a lighting strategy group that can report back on trials of LED lighting. Further such projects are expected to follow.
The combined BHS and Arcadia businesses consume a significant amount of water, just how much is currently being validated by a third party company that will give us insights on how to conserve this vital resource. In line with our aims, we have introduced 309 waterless urinal units across the business. This has saved 48 million litres of water this year already, enough to fill over 19 Olympicsized swimming pools. The next stage of our plan is to assess the potential for water metering in stores and head offices.
Last year we recycled 35 million hangers across the group. We have a system in place to reuse hangers up to seven times before they are broken down and recycled. Next year we will review and streamline the range of hanger styles we use.
We have seen a 10% reduction – exactly the figure we targeted for the year. We have scaled down next year’s carrier bag order accordingly and hope we can continue this trend. Legislation in Wales to charge 5p for paper carrier bags has reduced bag usage there by almost 70%. This charge has been donated to charities nominated by the Welsh store staff.
This year saw the introduction of 186 multi-functional devices (MFDs) into stores and 18 into our BHS head office. MFDs are highly efficient machines that replace printers, scanners, photocopiers and faxes with one single unit. These new machines are roughly 60% more energy efficient and will represent a significant saving in terms of energy, paper, toner cartridges and engineer call outs.
We have carried out an audit of our remaining head office printers to identify those capable of duplex printing. Any machine that reaches the end of its life will be replaced with one that is capable of double-sided printing.
Next year’s launch of the major project to refurbish our head office will include plans to install duplex printers as part of a more efficient approach to paper usage.