Leafield Environmental

Leafield Environmental is an award-winning UK designer and manufacturer of plastic recycling and litter bins and has been operating for over 25 years. 

The company delivers consistent, high quality, tailor-made recycling solutions and now works with universities and colleges within the UK.

Leafield listens and connects with its customers, from first brief to installation, working as a team to design and manufacture tailor-made recycling solutions. The company works closely with our customers to create bespoke and personalised products from concept through design to manufacture and delivery.

Case study: Bath Spa University… On the Road to ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’

Bath Spa University was recognised as a First Class university in the People and Planet University League Table in 2015. The University has made significant strides over the past couple of years, towards its goal of ‘zero waste to landfill’, ably assisted by Leafield Environmental.

The journey started in an ad-hoc fashion some eight years ago with an attempt to segregate waste streams at source, both internally and externally. As the number of recyclate streams expanded the project became increasingly complicated and consequently less and less effective. That said, the University still managed to recycle over 50% of its waste, indicating a latent will amongst students and staff to ‘do the right thing’ and be more environmentally aware.

The decision to more than double the number of live-in students was the catalyst to revisit the recycling problem as Sustainability Manager Dr Julian Greaves explains:

“To continue recycling at source we would have had to isolate seven waste streams and that would have meant having no less than seven separate bins in each collection location. Clearly that was far too complex and unlikely to work well.

We found a contractor to handle three recyclate streams, food waste for composting or anaerobic digestion, mixed recycling for material recovery and residual waste for energy and then sought a supplier that could meet our requirements for collection bins. Having spoken to several bin manufacturers we quickly came to the conclusion that Leafield Environmental were the only company that really understood our requirements and were willing to develop products to meet them.”

Designing the Right Solutions
Leafield’s Key Accounts and Business Manager, Vince Wright, carried out a preliminary survey and made initial recommendations that involved the Leafield design team. In the words of Dr Greaves, “We formed a close partnership that is still working very well.”

The initial focus was to design and manufacture an economical bin for mixed recycling that could be spread liberally around internal working areas. The EcoAce Envirobin was specifically designed for this purpose, a simple bin with WRAP compliant, colour coded lid and graphics and a capacity of 62 litres.

In order to improve the overall efficiency of the waste collection and transport operation they decided, at an early stage, to adopt a bag-less approach. Black bags contain a lot of air and don’t fit efficiently into collection bins. This move not only increased ‘bin fill’ efficiency, it also resolved the problem of liquids dripping from bags and staining carpets. Furthermore, it put an end to the unsightly black bags that previously piled up around the bins and removed the litter problem caused by birds ripping and stealing from the bags, thereby improving the overall environment.

Bins for Every Location
The first hurdle over, the team turned its attention to the student halls of residence, especially the communal kitchen areas. The objective was to make provision for the collection of the afore-mentioned three waste streams throughout the campus but additionally to segregate glass in kitchen areas. Because space is at a premium in such places, several stacking bin concepts were suggested and a rectangular, slim-line design settled upon. This Envirostack bin has a spacious capacity of 52 litres and is now used in stacked groups of four in all communal kitchens.

The decision was taken to have dedicated Recycling Centres in other communal areas throughout the University, again to segregate the three waste streams. A pedal type bin was preferred for this situation but Leafield’s Steribin offered the required substantial modification to meet the need. A single lid variant with 110 litre capacity was produced with a single plastic liner to comply with the bag-less strategy. A late variation saw handles affixed to the lids to make them accessible for those using wheelchairs. Custom signage was also attached to each bin to discourage cross contamination.

For use in corridors, receptions and high footfall areas, Leafield’s stylish, slim-line, Meridian bins have been deployed. Again, the three waste streams are accommodated only this time having a 28 litre liner for general waste, a 63.5 litre liner for mixed recyclables and a 10 litre food caddy that sits within the mixed recycling liner.

External recycling collection has not been overlooked. Leafield’s Envirobank recycling bins again accommodate the three waste streams although in larger volumes. The Envirobank 240, as its name suggests, is used to take 240 litres of mixed recyclate while its smaller brother, the Envirobank Split, has two apertures and accommodates up to 90 litres each of food waste and general waste.

Apprehension and Education
“Our new approach to recycling is proving very successful,” continued Dr Greaves, “and it has gained good acceptance from students, staff and the existing cleaning team alike.

There was some apprehension about possible odours arising from food collection but we have installed a cleaning station with a jet lance cleaning arrangement so odour is kept to a minimum. We also have spare bin liners that we can ‘swap out’ while others are collected for cleaning. We estimate that we will save some £10,000 a year by not providing black bin bags so we have a financial saving as well as an environmental one.”

Recent focus has been on educating users on how to differentiate between the waste streams. Comprehensive graphics and signage alone will not automatically overcome potential contamination problems. Bath Spa University is fortunate to have a very proactive performing arts faculty and they have been instrumental in broadcasting the sustainability message to good effect. 

Students have also made a humorous rap video explaining the intricacies of identifying exactly what waste goes into each waste stream.

"The results of our recent grading in the People and Planet sustainability league are most encouraging,” concluded Dr Greaves. “One of the criteria by which we are judged is waste and water recycling and our partnership with Leafield Environmental has had a significant impact on our achievements in this area.”

Main Contact Name: Vince Wright, UK & Export Sales Manager
Main Contact Email & Telephone: vince.wright@leafield-environmental.com / 07818017257
Further information/website: www.leafieldrecycle.com
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