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Mountain of waste saved from landfill by green Thames Water staff

Monday 7th June 2021 11:06

Thames Water staff have saved huge amounts of waste from landfill by recycling at the company's sites

Thames Water staff have saved huge amounts of waste from landfill by recycling at the company's sites

Eco-friendly Thames Water staff, including those at the company’s Reading headquarters, have saved a mountain of waste the size of 14 Space Shuttles from landfill by recycling plastic, glass, metal and paper.

The water company’s new waste management system saw workers meticulously set aside their waste at dozens of sites across London and the Thames Valley to stop it going to dumps, where it can have a huge impact on the environment.

It’s been so successful that over the last two years, Thames Water has collected and recycled the equivalent of 1.2 million two-litre plastic bottles, 2,000 330ml glass bottles and 2.6 tonnes of aluminium cans, while recycling paper and cardboard has saved almost 4 million litres of water and the equivalent of more than 2,500 trees.

About 470 tonnes of metal was also recycled, generating more than £40,000 which was reinvested back into the company’s vital work to provide clean and wastewater services to its 15 million customers.

The savings weren’t restricted to operational sites, with corporate offices including the Clearwater Court in Reading installing new recycling bins which ensured that none of the 470,000kg of waste produced went to landfill and was instead processed at the Lakeside energy-from-waste plant in Colnbrook, Slough.

The total amount of energy saved by sending waste for recycling and recovery was enough to power 395 households for the entire year.

Thames Water already encourages staff to cut down on the waste they produce by avoiding single-use plastic containers, limiting the amount of pages they print and using digital rather than physical documents when possible.

Justin Lambourne, Thames Water’s head of operational projects and logistics, said: “Protecting the environment is at the heart of everything we do and ensuring we’re recycling as much as possible at all our sites is one of the simplest ways to help achieve this.

“Colleagues across the business have been integral to this and I want to thank them for their dedication to recycling and reusing, whether that’s bringing in their own reusable water bottles, cutting down on the amount of paper they’re using or just making sure their waste goes in the right bin.

“Alongside our ambitious carbon zero and green energy commitments, these changes will help ensure Thames Water remains and environmentally conscious and responsible company in the future.”

Thames Water also runs a GreenTag scheme which has seen old, unused equipment shared between company sites, sold to other organisations and even donated to charities.

In August last year, reels of old hose pipes destined for landfill were turned into feeders, toys and play equipment for animals at Port Lympne Reserve in Kent and Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary in Berkshire.

Thames Water has committed to reaching net carbon zero by 2030 and then going beyond, while it also produces huge amounts of renewable energy across its sites. Power generated during the sewage treatment process, together with wind and solar, currently generates around a quarter of the company’s electricity needs, saving around £40 million in energy costs each year.

Last year the company produced over 310GWh (gigawatt-hours) of renewable electricity across its sites, enough to power the London Borough of Bexley for a year, as well as recovering 150GWh of renewable heat from operations, reducing dependency on natural gas.