Although there are no figures about how much waste is produced by shopping centres in the UK, there’s no doubt that the numbers will be huge.
Why there is no will for waste
This year, the College of Estate Management published a report on UK Shopping Centres and the Sustainability Agenda which highlighted the main reason why retailers may not be prioritising sustainability – cost. Unless the introduction of sustainable measures reduces their costs, retail outlets will have no incentive to make their business more sustainable. The report cites Marks & Spencer as the only retailer using ‘greening’ as a way of getting a competitive advantage.
In shopping centres, there is an additional barrier when it comes to sustainable waste management, what the report’s authors call the “traditionally adversarial relationship between shopping centre landlords and retailers”.
What are centres doing about waste disposal?
However, the larger shopping centres are making efforts to deal with waste. In its 2015 sustainability report, the Westfield Corporation reported a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 19% over the previous year – the largest indirect decrease due to a reduction in emissions from waste going to landfill.
The Belle Vale Shopping Centre in Liverpool has recently won an environmental award for promoting best practice with regard to waste disposal. The Centre’s management team have introduced balers to deal with cardboard and polythene waste, which are then sent on for recycling. Recycling bins have been introduced to the mall to make it easier for everyone to recycle at source, e.g. drinks cans, plastic bottles, glass and food waste. Items are sent for recycling wherever possible and residual waste is sent to a power station. With these policies, the Centre has significantly reduced its waste management costs, and since 2012 hasachieved their target of zero landfill.
What your shopping centre can do to reduce waste disposal costs
Owners of shopping centres can cut the costs of waste management if they encourage all their retailers to consider what we call ‘the three Rs’ – reduce, reuse and recycle. By producing less waste in the first place, cost reductions will benefit all parties. Other waste costs can be reduced by the use of balers and compactors which result in the need for fewer collections.
Phoenix Compactors have helped some of the largest shopping centres in the UK reduce their waste costs.