We're commited to managing our waste as carefully as possible to ensure that a large proprtion of it goes to recycling rather than to the rubbish tip. We've spent a lot of time and effort over the last six months in reviewing our policies and procedures, and this has lead to some drastic reforms in what we purchase from suppliers, how we manage waste in our cinemas and offices, and how we evaluate potential new suppliers and partner companies. Here's what we've been doing.
We separate our waste for recycling. All cinemas have various recycling pick ups from our main waste contractors - typically, waste is broken down into: plastic recycling, cardboard recycling, paper recycling, glass recycling and compostable packaging recycling. This means that we go through all of the waste left in auditoria after shows and separate them into relevant bags ready to go to recycling centres with our waste collections.
This has lead to drastic reduction in the amount of waste going into general refuse collections - in some cases cutting up to ten bags of general waste down to just one.
We've been working hard to determine which food packaging can be replaced with more environmentally friendly alternatives.
In January 2018, we started to introduce a brand new range of compostable packaging from Vegware. This includes compostable coffee cups, straws and recycled napkins.
Vegware coffee cups are lined with PLA rather than plastic. PLA is made from plants, is compostable with regular food waste, biodegrades within 12 weeks and uses 72% less carbon than plastic alternatives. The Vegware straws are made entirely from PLA. Coffee cup lids are made from CPLA and are also completely compostable
Elsewhere, we've been looking at all of our other packaging and have discontinued the use of black plastic trays in favour of cardboard alternatives.
This is an ongoing process. Some of our partner companies have specific methods of packaging that can't easily be changed, but we continue to work with suppliers to find alternative packaging methods. We no longer use any plastic in-house packaging.
How much of our packaging is recycled? A lot! Have a look at the following key ranges and items to see where the individual products go:
So what can't be recycled? Sadly, some food packaging just can't go into recycling - this includes sweets wrappers, pouches, cold drinks cups and ice cream tubs. Despite having a plastic lining, our cold drinks cups would actually be recyclable, if the facilities existed at local level. Our supplier is the founding member of an industry body aiming to drastically increase the number of local authorities able to recycle these items, and we look forward to hearing about developments in this area.
We re-use the majority of our "outer" packaging. Where items are delivered to us in boxes, we try to re-use them wherever possible. This means that when we ship things between cinemas, or we ship out competition prizes, we always re-use what we have. We don't buy packaging - ever. We always try to reuse jiffy envelopes as well, and anything that has been used in padding and packages sent to us. Once we can no longer use a box or other packaging, it goes into our regular recycling collections.
Some of our staff with a passion for gardening love to take home our used coffee grounds to spread on their gardens. If you'd like us to save you some, we're more than happy to do so - just ask in the Cinema.
We've overhauled our policies in this area, working towards the following:
In the last five years we've made significant changes to the way we light our cinemas. We have undertaken a program of conversion from conventional filament lamp bulbs to LED. This has significantly cut down on the number of lamp bulbs that we dispose of. We have committed that every new-build or refurbished cinema will only feature LED lighting. Existing filament and CFL lamps are disposed of in line with WEEE regulations.
Cinema Xenon Lamps: Cinema projectors typically use a high-powered Xenon lamp as their light source. Xenon lamps are made of a quartz envelope, filled with highly pressurised Xenon gas, and a tungsten electrode. These type of lamps can't be disposed of by most lamp refuse contractors. We have an agreement in place with a company in Newport who collect our lamps and break them down for onward recycling. This is done wholly within WEEE regulations.
There has been a lot of press coverage lately regarding the use of plastic packaging and how it is unsafe in a marine environment. We absolutely agree with all points made in the press and other media; and so:
Compostable packaging is a great idea - we love it. The idea that packaging can be composted with regular commericial food waste and turned into other things is brilliant, if of course, local facilities exist to handle this.
We're lucky that one of our waste contractors handles compostable food packaging, so you can be sure that the items are composted and biodegrade within just a few weeks.
Unfortunately, not all waste contractors can handle compostable packaging, so sadly it can still end up in landfill. Although not ideal, even if compostable packaging ends up in landfill it still biodegrades at a fraction of the time that it takes plastic to, and as such is certainly more favourable to us than using plastic-lined items. However, we'd love to see the loop closed by more companies and local facilities. If you run a facility that can handle compostable packaging waste, we'd love to hear from you.
We're keeping an eye on Vegwares 'Close the Loop' initiative as well.
The "Latte Levy" is a proposal whereby retailers who serve drinks in plastic-lined takeaway cups would be charged a 25p fee for each sale. We do wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be more accountability within our industry and others regarding the use of disposable cups. We've tried to make progress with this over the last 6 months, well before this levy was announced. By offering customers a choice of a porcelain mug, and switching to compostable cups (and selected other packaging materials), we like to think that we're doing the best we can to cut down on less environmentally friendly materials. We know that compostable packaging still has some way to go before it can be perfect, most notably, having the infrastructure readily available to "close the loop".
We'd love to see more waste contractors making provisions for handling compostable waste at local level, and we'd like to think that as more retailers start changing to more environmentally friendly packaging, the waste and recycling industries will follow suit. We would love to see the proposed levy take into account companies that are doing all they can to provide better options, but not be able to finish the job due to infrastructure problems. It's an area that we're keeping a close eye on, and where we're doing all we can to ensure we do our bit for the environment.