Planet Mark-certified recycling and resource management business, Bywaters, recently completed the largest solar PV array fitted to an existing London building at its Materials Recycling Facility in Bow, East London. Bywaters’ managing director, John Glover, discusses why the investment makes both commercial and social sense.

Bywaters rooftop solar array in East London

I am extremely proud that we are able to provide Londoners with a service that helps them improve their environmental performance. By minimising the amount of waste we send to landfill and maximising the availability of valuable secondary resources we are able to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pressure on the earth’s primary resources and help build more sustainable supply chains for the future. It is however an unfortunate truth that the mechanical processing technology required to achieve this improvement is relatively energy intensive.

After our wage bill, energy is our second biggest cost. As a result energy consumption is always pretty high on my radar! But it is not just the financial implication of our energy use that concerns me. With so many of our employees living locally Bywaters has always been acutely aware of our role in society and the need to make London a better place for Londoners. The issues surrounding climate change are well documented and recent ‘Toxic Air’ headlines in the Evening Standard indicate that air quality is becoming an increasing concern. In fact, in a recent YouGov poll 7 out of 10 parents in London said they were worried about the impact of air pollution on their children and ranked air pollution as one of the biggest health threats facing Londoners today.

The Mayor of London has set out to address these issues through his Climate Change Mitigation & Energy Strategy and Air Quality Strategy. The former aims to cut London’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power stations, home boilers and cars, or from industrial processes and sets a target to reduce London’s carbon dioxide emissions by 60% of their 1990 level by 2025. The Air Quality Strategy includes a number of initiatives to cut pollution. This includes the introduction of a new ‘Ultra Low Emissions Zone’ with only the newest, cleanest diesel vehicles will be allowed to drive in this area without paying a charge. London’s bus fleet has also been improved with the introduction of new hybrid vehicles and the retrofitting of existing fleets. In addition over 6000 of the oldest most polluting taxis have been removed from the roads.

We realise however that to make a significant change businesses such as ours need to take responsibility and start to take action ourselves. We have recently implemented a number of initiatives to minimise our environmental impact. This includes making use of London’s oldest infrastructure, its river and waterways, to dramatically reduce the number of vehicle movements in and around the capital. The partnership with Cory Environmental has enabled us to transport all the residual waste, which cannot be recycled to Cory’s R1 Status Belvedere Energy from Waste (EfW) facility via the River Thames. This saves road miles and associated carbon emissions whilst simultaneously providing a sustainable solution for clients and community. The use of London’s water ways has enabled us to eliminate around 3000 lorry movements per annum further reducing pollution and congestion within the capital.

We have also invested heavily in our vehicles and now operate a £7 million fleet of market leading eco-friendly vehicles, which meet Euro 5/6 emission standards. All vehicles servicing the Capital have an on board Dynafleet program which monitors and tracks both the vehicles environmental sustainability and driver patterns and behaviour. Reports are generated by Volvo to validate transparency of carbon dioxide emissions reporting, and overall vehicle productivity.

Our latest initiative has seen us find an innovative use for the roof of our flagship recycling facility in Bow, which is licenced to process 650,000 tonnes of material a year. Here we recently completed London’s largest Solar PV retrofit, installing over 4,000 panels. Power generated goes straight into the grid before being fed back into the building and the 1000kWp solar PV (photovoltaic) array provides enough to power daytime power for the whole facility.

The installation of solar PV will stabilise our energy supply and reduce our future carbon emissions and energy costs by around 45%. The investment is also an important demonstration of our commitment to developing a sustainable business and improving our own environmental performance. The array will save around 320 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum, which is equivalent to powering 237 homes for a year.

There continues to be a common misconception that ‘doing the right thing costs money’. However, in common with effective waste and recycling solutions the adoption of a more sustainable approach to our energy provision has enabled us to realise both commercial and environmental improvements benefiting our business, our customers and the community of which we are part.

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