The boss of a shopping centre reckons it’s the greenest in Wales after achieving a recycling rate of 100 per cent – and slashing water and electricity usage.
Over the past few years Eagles Meadow in Wrexham has cut amount of daily waste from shops and restaurants which ends up in environment-damaging landfill from 160 tonnes a year to zero.
At the same time the centre has reduced the amount of water it uses by over a third and trimmed its electricity bill by more than a quarter.
Centre manager Kevin Critchley, who was behind the drive to introduce the package of planet-saving measures, says all this adds up to make Eagles Meadow the greenest shopping centre in the country.
He said: “When I first came here in 2009 it was one of my top priorities to reduce the centre’s environmental impact.
“We started by looking closely at the amount of waste we send to landfill which is a very unsustainable way of disposal.
“Seven years ago the centre was producing 250 tonnes of waste. Of that 90 tonnes was recycled but 160 tonnes was sent to landfill equating to a recycling rate of only 36 per cent.
“We’ve since put in a lot of work on looking at other ways of doing things and, thanks to the co-operation of our retailers and the way they carefully segregate the various types of waste, there have been gradual increases in the amount being recycled.
“The cardboard waste is baled up and sent away to a cardboard mill for re-use and it’s the same process with the waste glass.
“Last year we also introduced food recycling with the restaurants and caterers collecting up the waste in special containers which is then sent away for anaerobic decomposition. This means it’s allowed to rot down and is eventually turned into compost.
“Waste from the centre which is impractical to segregate and sort on site is sent initially to a material recycling facility and then the residue is being sent away to be treated and turned into refuse-derived fuel pellets. Even the waste from that operation is used elsewhere as our contractor, Veolia Environmental UK, send this as ballast for block manufacturing and infill.
“All this means that last year, although we produced 279 tonnes of waste, only a tiny 640 kilograms of it, or just 0.2%, ended up in landfill.
“Even better, so far this year we’ve produced 129 tonnes of waste, none of which has been sent to landfill, which is a recycling rate of 100 per cent.”
Kevin explained that the same green regime had been applied to cutting down on Eagles Meadow’s electricity and water usage.
He explained: “Back in 2010 the power consumption for the areas under centre management control was just over 1.6 million kilowatts but by 2015 we’d cut this by 28 per cent to around 1.1 million kilowatts.
“We achieved this by focusing on how and when we used electricity on things such as extractor fans, back-of-house lighting and, most effectively, simply turning on the lights later and switching them off earlier.
“Basically, it was lots of little things that have all added up to produce a very big saving.
“Over the past seven years we’ve also managed to make a significant reduction in our use of water.
“In 2009 when I arrived at Eagles Meadow we consumed 31,744 cubic metres and by using the same kind of close monitoring we had reduced this to 20,156 cubic metres by 2015, which is a very rewarding 36.5 per cent down.
“In terms of our environmental credentials I think the savings we’ve made on water and electricity plus our performance on recycling has been a smashing result.
“There have obviously been some significant financial savings but it’s down more to the issue of sustainability.
“Some people tend to forget that large organisations like ours have people working in them and that we all have an interest in reducing our impact on the environment.
“Many of us have children and grandchildren and that’s why we have put so much time and effort into these measures.”
He added: “With all that we have achieved I think we can definitely say we’re the greenest shopping centre in Wales.
“I think our figures are excellent but if there are any other centres out there who’ve managed to do better I’d be pleased but very surprised.”