Green Business Awards 2010: Waste reduction and recycling

Winner - Leyland Trucks

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Landfill is one of the least environmentally friendly methods of getting rid of our waste.

It produces toxic liquids which can pollute waterways and methane gas which contributes to climate change. It's also becoming a lot more expensive as companies and public authorities have to pay steadily increasing landfill taxes.

Leyland Trucks, like many businesses, had already taken steps to reduce its waste to landfill and over a 10-year period had cut the percentage going to landfill from 75% to 34%. In 2008, the company set itself an altogether more ambitious goal: to eliminate all waste to landfill by the end of the year.

The approach taken was to set up a Six Sigma process management project, with the team carrying out a detailed audit of the different categories of waste being produced on the site and then identifying recycling methods for each of the waste types. Some of the ideas came from assembly operators who were the ones used to handling the materials and saw the opportunities.

The objectives of the project were publicised in weekly employee briefings and shop-floor and office teams held meetings to discuss what sort of waste was being generated in different areas of the factory. Suggestions were submitted through the company's ideas generation scheme, Every Little Counts.

The audit found the biggest source of waste was paint sludge, accounting for 65% of all material sent to landfill. General waste made up 29%, wood waste 4% and canteen waste and glass each contributed 1%.

Overspray from the paint booth is now sent to a plant where it is used to make cement. Packaging foam was put to a variety of uses, including making new household products and road building, treated wood was taken as a bio-fuel and general waste was sent to an Energy from Waste plant supplying electricity to the National Grid.

Even canteen waste which was previously collected by the local council refuse service and then disposed of in landfill is now handled in the same waste stream as Leyland's general waste and converted to energy. This reduces the number of external contractors used, diverts a further seven tonnes of waste per year away from landfill and realises a small cost saving.

The key to the project was found to be waste segregation at the point of use, which required awareness training and regular housekeeping audits. The objective was met and Leyland Trucks became the first commercial vehicle manufacturer in Europe to achieve zero waste to landfill. The company was paying £30,000 in landfill tax at the time of the project and when the increased tax levels are taken into account, the exercise will be cost neutral in the long term.

Leyland believes it has set an example other companies could readily follow and that would mean a lot less rubbish going into the ground in the years to come.


Coca-Cola Enterprises Egger UK

Fisher Scientific UK

Johnson Tiles

Lenzing Fibers Grimsby

Sponsored by RPS


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