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Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK smashes waste to landfill targets

Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK (SGBD), the parent company of leading builders merchant Jewson, has announced it has comfortably beaten its target for reducing waste to landfill in 2009.

SGBD is widely regarded as leading the sustainability agenda amongst builders’ merchants in the UK, one indication of which was the company’s decision to set and publish key environmental performance indicators through its annual Corporate Responsibility Statement. In 2008 SGBD set itself the long term aim of halving waste to landfill from a 2008 baseline of 21,310 tonnes down to 10,655 tonnes by the end of 2012. Annual targets were set for each intervening year to benchmark the company’s achievements.

Figures published by the company this week show that against a waste to landfill target of 19,400 tonnes in 2009, the company actually achieved a figure of 13,449 tonnes – smashing the target by 37%.

On a like for like basis this means a 25.8% reduction from 9.3 tonnes per £million of turnover to 6.9 tonnes per £million of turnover.

The primary focus of SGBD’s activity in reducing the waste is an innovative partnership with Biffa begun in 2007. Biffa now manages the disposal of waste from all Jewson and sister brand sites through out the UK where previously each site has been responsible for managing its own waste collection and disposal requirements. The partnership has seen many of the traditional on-site skips replaced by a series of containers to enable separate disposal of recyclable items such as timber, concrete rubble and cardboard significantly reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.

Steve Millward, Sustainability Director for SGBD and the man responsible for driving the company’s environmental policy, explains why SGBD have been so successful in reducing waste in 2009:

"There are four key drivers behind our being able to so comprehensively beat our waste to landfill targets in 2009.

Firstly, 2009 saw us complete the roll out of our partnership with Biffa so that it now encompasses all of our branches throughout the UK.

Secondly, we have invested heavily in training and education for all our branch staff to ensure they understand the importance of sustainability to the company and of the role of our waste initiative. We are seeing the results of this in 2009.

Thirdly, our ISO 14001 accreditation, the environmental management standard that recognises how organisations have reduced their impact on the environment, means that all our sustainability policies and activities are now being rigorously audited. This has an uncanny effect on driving performance in the branches!

Finally, we have been working closely with all of our suppliers to help them reduce the packaging of the products they deliver to our branches."

The reduction in landfill waste created is not only good news environmentally for SGBD it also has delivered significant commercial benefits as the company has been able to reduce the cost of processing its landfill waste by £1.2million in 2009.

Steve Millward sums up:

"Everyone is aware of the importance of addressing the environmental impact of our commercial activities but changing a company culture is notoriously difficult. We have not only changed it, but transformed it on a national scale and now we are seeing the results. Every single member of staff should be proud of that."

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