JWS Assist The Lowry Outlet Mall to Win Prestigious Green Apple Award

The Lowry Outlet Mall has realised dramatic sustainability improvements by making simple changes to its lighting and waste management processes – achieving significant commercial gains at the same time.

JWS Waste assist Lowry Outlet Mill to win prestigious Green Apple award for sustainability achievements of recycling wasteSituated by Salford Quays, the Lowry Outlet Mall is a hub of leisure activity. With more than 80 stores, restaurants, cafes and an on-site cinema attracting almost five million visitors in 2011, the Mall is inevitably a significant user of energy and producer of waste. But, in November 2012, the Lowry Mall succeeded against more than 500 other competitors to win a prestigious Green Apple award for its sustainability achievements.

The Green Apple award was the culmination of several years’ work by the Mall’s operations manager, John O’Boyle, to recycle almost all waste produced by the Mall and radically reduce its carbon footprint. Over the past 12 months, O’Boyle has been working closely with internal staff and recycling company, JWS Waste & Recycling, to achieve an average recycling rate of 97%. This means that, over the past year, around 714 tonnes of waste have been recycled.

The Mall has also made significant energy efficient changes to reduce its electricity use and costs. Changing to lower-wattage bulbs in the centre’s ceiling lights and in the ground floor car park alone has resulted in a reduction of 356957.04 kgs of CO2 emissions and a financial saving of almost £75,000 a year.

“The changes we made had an immediate impact on operational running costs and laid the foundations for longer-term commercial gains,” says O’Boyle. “These positive results show that retail operations can make significant commercial gains while also adopting a more environmentally friendly approach.” 

As a result of this sustainability success and its Green Apple award, the Lowry Outlet Mall will have its winning paper published in The Green Book, a leading international work of reference on environmental best practice, so that others around the world can follow the Mall’s example and learn from its experience. 

Managing waste better

When O’Boyle joined the Lowry Outlet Mall in 2006, all of the waste generated by the Mall went into compactors and on to landfill. Having previously worked as an estates manager at a large college, O’Boyle brought with him a track record of more sustainable waste management that he sought to take forward in his new role.

Four years ago, the Mall installed the first balers for recycling cardboard and now has processes in place for the recycling of all the main waste streams.

The 714 tonnes of waste recycled over the past 12 months comprises:

  • plastic: 11.98 tonnes;
  • cardboard: 103.36 tonnes;
  • metal: 9.87 tonnes;
  • wood: 1.38 tonnes; and
  • general waste: 588 tonnes.

The only type of waste still being sent to landfill is food, and O’Boyle is already investigating potential methods of disposing of this waste stream in a more sustainable fashion.

The cost of the Mall’s recycling programme is paid out of the service charge (comprising income from current tenants such as retailers). The total outlay for the recycling programme for the 12 months to June 2012 was £65,669.

A recycling partnership 

In August 2010, the Lowry Outlet Mall entered into a total waste management (TWM) contract with one waste management supplier, JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited. Along with other suppliers, JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited had already been providing on-site waste management services with compactors and several roll-on/roll-off compactors at the Mall for a few years.

The Mall took the decision to centralise all waste management services with one supplier to implement a more effective waste management strategy. Following a tendering process and the award of the contract to JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited, a portable compactor and a cardboard baler were installed at both loading bays at the Mall, and the collection of metal, plastics and glass was incorporated into the contract.

According to O’Boyle, the contract with JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited is now well into its second year and is progressing well. As he comments: “Our relationship with JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited has gone from strength to strength due to their reliability, excellent standards and the remarkable results they have achieved year-on-year.”

JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited’ materials recovery facility (MRF) is permitted to process up to 375,000 tonnes of waste each year, using mechanical separation combined with strict quality control picking to ensure that over 90% of the waste materials processed is diverted to resource recovery or energy production.

Following the segregation of various waste materials, JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited prepares significant volumes of the waste ready to be made into a range of recycled materials, including:

  • aggregate for road and construction use;
  • wood for chipboard production;
  • soil for landscaping;
  • cardboard and paper for papermills; and
  • residual waste as energy – refuse derived fuel (RDF).

Under the service contract, JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited provides the Lowry Outlet Mall with a weekly report itemising the types and amount of waste that has been collected. A monthly report is also provided by JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited detailing the percentages of the different waste streams that have been recycled. The June certificate, for example, shows that JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited collected 46 tonnes of waste and recycled 100% of the plastic, cardboard, metal and wood timber waste collected that month, with 83% of the mixed municipal waste also recycled at its processing plant.

The Mall pays JWS Waste & Recycling Services Limited a transport fee per collection of waste, plus a disposal charge per tonne of waste that comes out of its compactors. The Mall does not pay anything for the collection of plastic, cardboard and metal waste. O’Boyle keeps a detailed record of the costs and savings associated with the waste management contract and says it is very cost-effective.

For 2012 the Mall has already saved more than £11,000 as it receives a rebate for some waste streams including cardboard plastic. “The more waste we produce for recycling, the more we save,” adds O’Boyle.

O’Boyle and his team have now installed recycling bins in its food court for general waste, cardboard, cans and plastic bottles. The plan is to extend this practice to the shopping centre itself.

Reducing the carbon footprint

Between May 2011 and April 2012 the Lowry Outlet Mall made a number of changes to the lighting in its communal areas and car parks to reduce electricity running costs and CO2 emissions.

During this period, O’Boyle and his team changed 408 light fittings in the Mall’s shopping area from 180W to 42W. This meant that the Mall’s electricity consumption in this area dropped from 1762.5 KWH per day to 411.2 KWH per day. The original annual running cost of this lighting was £57,900 but, with the lower wattage bulbs, the cost has fallen to £13,100.

The team also targeted one of the Mall’s three car parks for reduced electricity consumption in this first phase of its carbon reduction programme. In the lower car park 154 light fittings were converted to compact fluorescent fittings. This change reduced the wattage of each bulb from 180W to 60W and the daily electrical energy consumption from 665.3 KWH to 221.7 KWH. The annual running cost for this lighting has fallen by two-thirds – from £21,854 to £7,285.

A further 83 light fittings in the lower car park have been changed to twin fluorescent fittings. For these bulbs, the wattage has dropped from 180W to 120W with daily electricity consumption falling from 358.5 KWH to 239.1 KWH. The annual running cost for these 83 light fittings has reduced to £7,852 from £11,779.

In the shopping area itself, O’Boyle and his team have also begun to switch off around a third of the lighting, which is forecast to reduce the Mall’s carbon footprint by an additional 64,547 kg of CO2 emissions in the next year. This equates to an additional financial saving of  £13,510.

Return on investment

The Lowry Outlet Mall has demonstrated that a shopping centre can be environmentally friendly, save costs, and keep the equivalent quality of lighting at a reduced wattage – all at the same time. O’Boyle points out that these sustainability improvements have been made possible because lighting technology has developed significantly over the past few years.

“The Mall presents itself as a role model, to inspire other shopping centres and retail operations to follow suit,” says O’Boyle. “We have demonstrated that by making simple changes, particularly in lighting, you can make substantial sustainability gains. At the same, you can reduce commercial running costs and recoup more than the initial outlay in the first year.”

The total CO2 emissions saved over the 12 months to June 2012 following the lighting changes is 356,957.04 kg. The cost to implement the changes to the Lowry Outlet Mall lighting was £34,176, installed by in-house maintenance staff. When this is compared to the financial savings made in lighting costs, there is still a healthy margin of £40,536 overall savings.

O’Boyle says that the lighting changes are both innovative and commercial. For example, where the Mall changed from a 180 watt lamp to a 42 watt lamp, the new lower wattage lamps not only have the equivalent brightness, but they last twice as long: old lamps lasted 10,000 hours while new lamps last 20,000 hours.

The changes to lighting not only saved money in the short-term but are sustainable changes for the longer-term. “What we did not only impacts on savings from a lighting perspective, it has a knock on effect in reducing workload for the in-house maintenance team who have responsibility for changing the bulbs,” says O’Boyle. “Furthermore, the old fittings cost £13 each whereas the new fittings only cost £4, which brings in further cost savings.”

Next steps

According to O’Boyle, despite the tangible sustainability improvements already achieved, the Mall has only “scratched the surface” in terms of the future potential reduction in its carbon footprint – he estimates that the Mall could save a million kgs in CO2 emissions if all the lighting and other energy efficient changes he has planned are implemented.

Following the success of the lighting changes to the lower Mall car park, a business case to roll-out similar changes to the other car parks has already been submitted. The next phase will involve similar lighting changes to the Mall’s multi-storey car park. The Mall is also reviewing “movement sensory lighting” in certain places, which will only switch on when cars pass by.

All the hand-dryers are soon to be replaced which will deliver lower running as well as lower energy use.

On the waste management front, the aim is to achieve close to a 100% recycling rate and O’Boyle is already investigating a recycling solution for the Mall’s only waste stream – food – that has not yet been switched to a more sustainable end-of-life disposal route.

At the moment, the remit of O’Boyle’s operations team covers the communal areas and car parks and not the individual retail outlets. But the team has worked closely with the shops, restaurants, cinema and cafes to ensure that their waste is disposed off in line with the recycling procedures that have been set up. The potential energy savings that could be achieved by the individual retailers could also be a future focus.

O’Boyle says there have been two main challenges associated with making the Mall a more sustainable place to shop and relax. The first was gaining buy-in from the individual retailers for the new waste management programme, as the Mall boasts more than 80 stores.

The other hurdle was getting the go-ahead from senior management for the initial investment so that the lighting changes could be implemented, although that financial outlay has already more than paid for itself and represents a major part of the business case to secure future funding for similar projects.

“The changes we have made at the Mall serve as a working example of how other retail operations on this scale can become more sustainable and reduce commercial running costs at the same time,” says O’Boyle. “Given the tough economic climate in the retail industry, that can only be a positive message.”