Midlands Arts Centre’s artistic approach to recycling

Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) is a pioneering arts complex for everyone, with a mission to make art an important part of people’s lives. With over 1 million visitors per year the amount of waste is significant and taking a new approach to working with a Carbon Neutral waste management company has allowed recycling to be simple for visitors, while further improving recycling levels.

MAC opened its doors in 1962 and now boasts three indoor theatre spaces, one outdoor theatre space, a cinema, café, galleries and a highly comprehensive course programme (pottery, yoga, jewellery making, painting, dance and more). Being open to public 364 days 9am until 10pm, except Christmas Day, MAC welcomes over one million visitors per year and has 200 staff on its books. All of whom carry a likelihood of leaving behind some waste.

The previous waste strategy involved numerous containers for many different waste streams including Dry Mixed Recycling, which was not being used properly, resulting in contaminated recyclate which could then not be recycled.

After a comprehensive tender process, Carbon Neutral B&M Waste Services partnered with MAC to alter the waste strategy to separate just cardboard and food waste, as they utilise Refuse Derived Fuel technology to generate greeen energy from non-recyclable waste as opposed to sending it to landfill.

Both waste areas – a main area in the rear yard and secondary bin store near to the kitchens – were kitted out with clearly labelled containers. Food caddies were provided to transport kitchen waste into the external food waste bin.

Extracting food waste from the general waste results in a lighter weight for the general waste bins, which off-sets the cost for introducing a food waste collection. Food waste is taken to an Anaerobic Digestion Facility which produces Biogas to generate electricty and heat.

Cardboard is stored separately and is 100% recycled into new cardboard.

Lizzie Moran, Head of Technical resources at MAC said “ I’m part of SAWM (Sustainable Arts West Midlands) which meet quarterly to share best practice about environmental projects. The Royal Shakespeare Company had moved to using B&M Waste last year and they came highly recommended so when it came to our tender I invited them to submit a proposal.”

“B&M Waste were cheaper with the bonus of being Carbon Neutral and diverting all waste from landfill. Due to restricted funding ,we need to consider outsourced services which are cheaper, and it’s a bonus that the service they provide is also greener. The move across to B&M Waste went very smoothly, and on ‘Bin Delivery Day’ we moved. The bins arrived without any issue and there have been no service issues since.”

Sean Sudworth, Area Sales Manager for B&M Waste said “As such a fantastic facility, MAC wanted to ensure a simple waste system which would guarantee landfill diversion and appeal to up to 13,000 visitors as an easy option when disposing of their waste when using MAC. It’s great to hear that they are not only reducing their costs, but additionally reducing their impact on the environment by using our service. Food waste segregation and recycling is of benefit to many of our customers who have to sell food for on-site consumption, and something the kitchen staff have found easy to adopt into their routine. We admire their commitment to not only a pleasant visitor and staff experience, but doing the right thing for the environment to boot ”

Lizzie continued “The Environmental report is very useful. All National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) such as ourselves are regularly funded by Arts Council England, and we have to submit an environmental report each year, which includes a report on waste. So having the report already for us to use, has been extremely useful as it demonstrates our recycling levels and diversion of 100% of waste from landfill. It also shows Carbon impact saved through using B&M Waste’s Carbon Neutral waste services in terms of trees and car miles equivalent. They’re flexible with our increasing demands for collections as the summer kicks in and visitor levels increase, and we look forward to working with them long-term”

“Based upon my experience so far I would definitely recommend B&M Waste to other companies looking for recycling initiatives for a fair price and reliable service.”

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