Located in a picturesque corner of North Devon, Lambda UK is perhaps more aware of the potential of environmental impact than companies located elsewhere, which is why a team of employees has decided to wage its own war on waste. While Lambda UK had recycled cardboard and office paper for many years, the team felt that there was an opportunity to do more at the 300-employee Ilfracombe plant, where the firm manufactures its configurable power supplies.
Starting by identifying the materials that constituted the bulk of Lambda's waste, the team set about finding the optimum way of reducing the landfill burden. One of the first steps was to address the mountains of polypropylene and polystyrene component trays that are used in the normal course of operations. Maureen Woodger, leader of Lambda UK's recycling team, comments: "This was easy to identify and get employee buy-in. We are now returning these to our supplier where they are reused. A very pleasant side effect is a saving to Lambda of approximately £40,000 every year, although our primary focus is to minimise Lambda's environmental impact rather than just save cost."
Other measures included the 'save-a-cup' vending cup recycling scheme, which allowed everyone in the company to get involved. The cups are recycled and made into office equipment, with the proceeds going to charity.
One of the most effective methods of reducing landfill burden has been to employ a compaction and baling system. The compactor reduces the volume of waste going to landfill, while the baler is used to collect soft plastics for recycling. As a result, the number of 1100-litre wheelie bins collected per week has been cut back from 18 to four, in only nine months, or 700 wheelie bins worth a year – a reduction of 79 per cent. The compacting and baling equipment has already paid for itself, as the 770m3 of landfill space saved would have cost the company £7000 at today's landfill prices.
Lambda UK is now recycling an impressive 20 tonnes of cardboard packaging, 5 tonnes of office paper, 8 tonnes of process scrap or obsolete components, an estimated 10 tonnes of plastic packaging and 600 fluorescent tubes. However, Lambda UK's recycling team do not intend to stop there. The team has already set tough targets for next year, which include a further reduction in waste so that only one wheelie bin is collected per week, encouraging suppliers to reduce the quantity of expanded polystyrene they use, introducing biodegradable canteen food trays and improving collection efficiency.
Woodger says: "The key to success in recycling initiatives is to make it easy for people to segregate and dispose of items, so we made sure that the collection points are just as convenient as using regular waste bins."