Swindon's Brunel Shopping Centre has fought off tough competition from five other finalists to be crowned winners of a national award that recognises excellence in recycling and waste management.
The judges of the Sceptre Awards, run by Shopping Centre Magazine, recognised The Brunel’s impressive record of continuous improvement in recycling rates, and their involvement of the local community.
Last April The Brunel achieved a recycling rate of 97 percent, up from 85 percent in June 17, and 95 percent in January 18.
This means that 97 percent of all the waste materials generated by the centre’s shops, and by the restaurants at The Crossing the centre’s new food hub, are diverted from landfill.
In order to achieve this impressive figure The Brunel’s operations team, lead by operations manager Rob Faulkner, worked creatively looking at all types of waste produced and considering how they could best be recycled.
This involved coming up with ideas such as commissioning an innovative bespoke work bench that uses magnets to allow users to separate steel and aluminium cans. Soon a piercing machine, to handle pressurised cans, will be added.
“Different materials have different recycling methods so separation of the waste is key” said Rob. “We also try to segregate the waste at source to minimise handling and so have been trialling different types of bins, and bin labelling, on the shopping mall to encourage people to recycle correctly.
"We’re currently running a trial on recycling disposable cups, something that is very topical and we know many people will welcome.
“We also work with our retailers and tenants to help them to think about the types of waste they produce and how that can be recycled.
"For instance, Indy’s Vegan Kitchen serve their food in compostable containers so we now have a bin on the shopping mall near to Indy’s where both left-over food and the container can both go for composting.”
A regular tenant Waste & Recycling newsletter, distinctive recycling branding, and training for store managers were all recognised by the judges as strengths.
But it was The Brunel’s work in involving the community that helped the centre come out tops. For several years the centre has worked with schools to teach children about waste and recycling.
Along with the centre’s retailers, such as Marks and Spencer and McDonald’s, the team at The Brunel set pupils recycling challenges, competitions and litter-pick days and arrange for them to visit the recycling centre on the roof of the shopping centre.
The most recent school to take part in this project was St Hugh’s in Faringdon where, earlier this month, around 30 children visited the centre and learnt about recycling.
Rob added: “Winning this award is just great and was quite a surprise! We were up against some of the very large regional shopping centres so we’re delighted that the judges recognised that at The Brunel we have a true passion and commitment to ensuring that as little waste as possible ends up in landfill.
"We’ve shown that with hard work and a bit of imagination it’s possible to get great results and I’m very proud of the team here and what we’ve managed to achieve.”