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Innovation and partnership steal the show at the CIWM Environmental Excellence Awards 2012

A wide range of companies across the industrial spectrum, as well as councils, public sector organisations and individuals, scooped prizes at the 2012 CIWM Awards for Environmental Excellence, which recognise and reward companies that have introduced successful measures to reduce their environmental impact through more sustainable waste and resource management.

The winners were announced at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square hotel yesterday, at an awards ceremony hosted by TV presenter Julia Bradbury.

The Innovative Practice in Waste Management and Resource Recovery Award went to Amgen Cymru in the SME category for a Mattress Recycling Centre, which is expected to handle up to 100,000 units/year, recycling both steel and textiles using a specially designed deconstruction machine. In the larger category, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council took the prize for its work with Scott Bros Ltd investigating the feasibility of using reed beds to treat wastes from its gully emptying and sweeping operations, effectively treating these waste streams and allowing them to be classified as household waste and contribute to the council’s recycling rate.

The Sustainable Construction & Demolition Award was presented to the McGrath Group for its environmental performance in the demolition of Phase 4B of the Silwood Estate Regeneration programme in New Cross, London – a council estate built in the early 1960s. Selected to carry out the demolition of two 6-storey tower blocks, McGrath’s demolition division, Demo One, achieved an exemplary overall recycling rate of 99.84%, and introduced two new initiatives as part of the project: the closed loop recycling of all the PVC windows and an assessment of the CO2 impact arising from the transport and crushing activities.

Demonstrating how to build local engagement in recycling, Warwickshire Community Recycling (WCR) won the Community Champion of the Year Award. A joint charitable enterprise, which took over the management of Stockton and Wellesbourne recycling centres from the County Council in April 2012, WCR provides the staff to operate the on-site shops, assist members of the public, and ensure recycling is sorted. In return, it receives the recycling income to cover the costs of operating the sites, with surpluses being donated to local charities. WCR also runs the HWRC re-use shops at Shipston-upon-Stour and Kenilworth, and also at a brand new recycling centre soon to open in North Warwickshire.

On-site service provider Sodexo and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT) beat off stiff competition to take away the Sustainable Facilities Management Performance of the Year Award for initiatives to improve waste prevention and recycling. CMFT is the leading provider of tertiary and specialist healthcare services in Manchester, treating more than one million patients every year from five specialist hospitals, and Sodexo was able to deliver a 50% decrease in the volume of food waste, with further initiatives in place, and increased the Trust’s recycling and recovery rates from 40% to 92% in less than six months.

Covering an important issue for the waste and recycling sector, the Health and Safety Best Practice Award went to Viridor this year for a co-ordinated health and safety initiative which has cut the company’s incident rate by over 50%. As well as increasing access to training, the firm’s ‘Act!On’ project included an updated staff induction film, a monthly e-newsletter to engage staff on health and safety issues and wider discussion and debate, and a 20 question test that requires a 100% pass rate. An award scheme has also been introduced which rewards staff contributions, with monetary prizes being handed out quarterly and a one-off prize given to the best idea of the year.

Safety stole the show again in the Vehicle, Plant and Equipment of the Year Award category, with Vision Techniques taking the honours for its new ‘Overview’ safety system for mobile plant and equipment to improve the safety of pedestrians and operatives working around the vehicle. Featuring a 360-degree real time view of the vehicle or machine and its surroundings, it helps eliminate blind spots, delivers driver warnings and is effective both during the daytime and at night.

Nampak Plastics’ Infini milk bottle, described as the first lightweight and fully recyclable bottle to be commercially available, picked up the Sustainable Product Development of the Year Award. The reduced weight of the bottles has resulted in a decrease of 15,000 tonnes worth of material, and has led to a carbon emissions reduction of 34,000 tonnes. Each bottle contains up to 15% recycled HDPE (rHDPE), and trials have already taken place that could result in the use of 30% recycled content in the near future. Over 20 million Infini bottles have already been manufactured and Nampak expect production to reach 100 million by the end of 2012.

Moving from 0 to 100% diversion from landfill in just ten years won HMP Onley the Recycling Performance of the Year (SME) Award this year. The judges were impressed by the range of measures put in place, including the collection, dewatering and in-vessel composting of the prison’s food waste to produce a soil conditioner which is then used on beds and borders across the site. This initiative, coupled with new recycling and re-use processes and systems across the site, allowed HMP Onley to divert 100 percent of the 182 tonnes of waste material collected in the first quarter of 2012 from landfill.

In the larger organisation category, EnvironCom scooped the Recycling Performance of the Year Award for its work to recycle PUR foam from waste fridges. The company, which receives half a million fridges for recycling every year, had already reached a recycling rate of 88 percent. Now, with the foam being recycled into wood-based laminate products, EnvironCom has upped its fridge recycling rate to 99% and has also shared the solution with competitors – helping to divert more than 5000 tonnes from landfill.

And last but certainly not least, Recycle for Manchester’s Watch Your Waste Week campaign stole the Communications Campaign of the Year Award. Timed to coincide with the European Week for Waste Reduction in November 2011, the aim of the campaign was to raise public awareness and understanding of waste prevention. Built around the theme of ‘Love the Pre-loved’ and focusing on fashion, style and furniture, the campaign highlighted ways in which waste can be prevented, promoting second hand clothes shops, furniture re-use organisations, and wider recycling projects such as the European Week for Waste Reduction. The campaign culminated in a fashion show, with all items of clothing donated for a variety of charity shops, and GMWDA received enthusiastic support from a number of local organisations.

CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said: "This year’s winners reflect the very real environmental and economic benefits – both to business and society – of waste prevention, recycling and resource efficiency. They also showcase best practice in some of the core operational areas for our sector such as Health & Safety. Sitting alongside the CIWM Professional Awards, they demonstrate that our industry is committed to innovation and excellence and is increasingly engaged with a range of other stakeholders to deliver a more sustainable future. "

Now in their sixth year, the CIWM Awards for Environmental Excellence recognise and reward best practice in the sustainable management of waste and resources and reduction of environmental impact, both within the resources and wastes industry and across a range of other commercial sectors including retail, construction and facilities management. The judges included Dr Liz Goodwin, chief executive of the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), John Ingham, environment editor of the Daily Express, Gemma Clinton, vice chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, Owen Jenkins, director of CIRIA and Mohamed Osmani, chair of CIRIA’s Environment Panel and senior lecturer at Loughborough University.

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