We live in a throw away society, but there’s no such place as “away”…
When we throw things away, what we are really doing is sending them to be buried in a big hole in the ground – a landfill site – never to be seen or used again. Once it’s buried, all that material and energy embodied in our rubbish can never be captured or used again. What a waste! On top of that when biodegradable material is landfilled it decays to produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is contributing to climate change. And the UK only has so many holes in the ground to put things in, so what will we do when the space runs out? One thing is clear; we must find other ways of dealing with our waste…
At Alara we take waste management very seriously and we set ourselves the ambitious target of being a zero-waste manufacturing site by the end of 2010. Well, we became the first company to achieve ZERO WASTE in 2008 – two years earlier than our target deadline!
The company now throws nothing away, illustrating that it’s possible for a company, even a food producer to achieve a zero waste business and manufacturing process. Everything is recycled, composted or reused, including hard-to-recycle polystyrene, which is reused for packing.
How We Reduce
The best way to deal with waste is to stop it being produced in the first place. Here are some of the ways that we have reduced the amunt of waste that we are responsible for.
- We try to minimise the amount of packaging that we use on our products
- We wrap pallets in the thinnest material we can
- We constantly review packaging developments to make use of the best technology.
- We don’t print out documents unless it’s absolutely necessary
How We Reuse
A good way to deal with waste is to reuse it if we can…
- Lots of our ingredients arrive on our site in cardboard boxes. We send any undamaged boxes to a neighbouring wholesaler who uses them for packing goods.
- Other ingredients arrive in plastic sacks. We use these as recycling bags for collecting plastic film, or bin liners for material that we can’t yet recycle.
- We use laser printers in our offices which use toner cartridges. When they are empty, we send the toner cartridges to a local shop to be refilled.
- All of our ingredients arrive on wooden pallets.Any that are undamaged are used to pack our own finished product on, ready to send to our customers.
How We Recycle
- Any cardboard boxes that can’t be reused, get recycled. They are all put in a compactor which squashes them so they take up less volume and bales them up ready for collection by our recycling company
- Most of our cereal flakes like oats and wheat come in paper sacks, which also go straight into the compactor to be baled and recycled.
- When pallet loads of ingredients come in to our factory, they are all wrapped in plastic film. We collect the film and use a baler to make bales of plastic which are also collected to be recycled
- All our offices have separate bins for collecting office paper and that’s all recycled separately
Most of the lighting in our factory comes from fluorescent tubes. Apart from being made of glass and metal, these tubes also contain mercury, so it’s important not to send them to landfill as mercury is poisonous and could seriously contaminate the land. Any tubes that no longer work are collected in a large box and sent for recycling by a specialist company.