Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) has diverted more than half of its waste from landfill by recycling food, card, paper and glass, enabling it to comply with the new Waste (Scotland) Regulations which came into force on 1 January 2014.
All businesses in Scotland are now legally required to separate key recyclable materials including paper and card, plastic, metals and glass for recycling collection. In addition, all food businesses which produce more than 50kg of food waste per week must present this for separate collection, unless they are located in a rural area.
In order to achieve its sustainability goals AECC wrote a Waste Management Plan and put an environmental management system in place.
The venue, which attracts more than 300,000 visitors to around 600 events a year, embarked on a campaign in May 2011 to recycle more, minimise hefty landfill charges and increase sustainability.
AECC’s efforts have earned the Centre Gold Status in the Green Tourism Business Scheme. Part-used radio-microphone batteries are offered for staff to take away and use rather than be disposed of. All items no longer needed such as used light bulbs, batteries and exhibition carpets are now sent to be recycled rather than sent direct to landfill.
The venue’s catering and beverage points use cups, plates and cutlery made from corn starch, which means these can be composted alongside food waste. All food waste and compostable packaging is collected for processing locally at an Anaerobic Digestion Plant in Aberdeenshire, turning the waste into compost which can be used by local farmers.
“For us, needing to become a more sustainable business was spurred on by our desire to cut costs commercially, given the high financial cost of sending waste to landfill,” said AECC catering general manager David McDonald. “We are not experts in this area by any means, but we are a group of focused individuals who want to make a difference.
“While the food waste requirements don’t include drinks, the particular challenge we had was how to deal with our liquid food waste. We overcame this problem by following Scottish Water’s best practice guidance for dealing with waste soup, stocks, sauces and milk products, which usually all contain fat and can congeal and harden in the drains. With agreement with our waste contractor, we simply leave them to cool and harden, scrape into container and place them in a food waste bin.”
Ian Gulland from Zero Waste Scotland, congratulated the venue. “It’s fantastic to see Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre is well on its way to helping Scotland’s hospitality industry achieve that saving. However, they have been effective across the board, not just with food waste, and through the measures implemented are in a great position to comply with the new waste regulations.”
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