Communities and Local Government has taken numerous steps over the last two years to reduce its volume of general waste produced and sent for incineration. The measures taken have included:
Reducing the number of personal general waste bins, to encourage staff to produce less waste and to dispose of recyclable materials in the appropriate facilities provided.
In headquarter buildings, plastic bottle recycling has been replaced by a system of 'total plastics recycling' enabling all common plastic polymers to be recycled, not just those used for bottles.
Introducing mobile phone and waste electronic and electrical equipment recycling systems, in addition to the standard recycling provisions such as paper, cardboard, glass and cans.
Organic waste recycling was also extended, enabling staff to compost waste in tea points of HQ buildings. This facility is also provided in kitchens and restaurant areas.
The number of printers has also been reduced to encourage less printing.
Communications campaigns are run at various intervals to remind staff to recycle; this has included focusing on avoiding the use of single use plastic bags and holding a 'Sustainability Month' during which staff were reminded to make full use of recycling facilities provided.
An environmental champions network has been established comprising staff volunteers who encourage their colleagues to foster more sustainable practices in the office, such as reducing waste production and recycling more.
Plastic food containers in staff restaurants have been replaced with biodegradable alternatives.
Major office furniture replacement projects have included ensuring redundant office furniture is disposed of by Green Works. Green Works is a not for profit social enterprise which redirects second hand furniture to third sector organisations such as schools and charities. The replacement office furniture has been selected ensuring a high level of reuse and recyclability to enable future general waste levels to be minimised.
Communities also relaunched its reusable water bottling scheme in its main HQ building. Instead of buying mineral water in glass bottles, the Department bottles filtered tap water on site in reusable glass bottles. This not only minimises waste but, similar to many sustainable waste solutions, reduces carbon dioxide emissions associated with waste treatment and transportation.
The Department will continue to identify further waste solutions to improve its future performance.