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Plastic bottle washed up on a beach

How does plastic actually harm the environment?

You see it on TV, you read it online, you can’t escape hearing about how bad plastic is for the environment. Over the years people have started to cut back on plastic consumption, and although many people are aware that plastic is bad for the environment, many people don’t actually know why.

What are the types of plastic?

They’re lots of different types of plastics. You may have noticed the little triangles on your plastic packages, a lot of people think they mean the item can be recycled but actually they represent the type of plastic that has been used. Here our chart explaining each triangle:

Is all plastic recyclable?

Nearly all types of plastics can be recycled but this depends on a lot of factors such as economic and logistics. The most recycled plastics are the two used to make items such as milk bottles, PET and HDPE. However, there is a limit to how many times plastic can be recycled, you can read more here.

Why is plastic so bad?

Plastic debris can be found everywhere from the Arctic to Antarctica. It kills millions of animals each year, from fish to birds and many others, whether it’s from entanglement, blocked digestive tracts or pierced organs. They’re many reasons why plastic is bad for animals, but it isn’t just them who are affected by plastic. It clogs street drains in cities, litters parks and has been found piling up on Mount Everest.

Plastic is also one of the main products of fracking which is bad for the planet for many reasons, it pollutes water, soil and air with toxins.

How plastic pollution can be reduced

They’re many ways we can reduce plastic pollution, such as buying reusable cups/bottles, purchasing metal straws to carry around with you, shopping at zero waste stores, here are our two favourites in Nottingham Shop Zero and The Good Weigh. Supermarkets like Iceland have an aim to be plastic-free by 2023 and Lidl has made lots of changes to reach their goals to reduce plastic.

And finally, recycle the plastic you have, get in touch with us for any advice or questions you might have. We can provide services tailored to you.

 

   

Image of litter in bin

School Waste: Where does it all go?

It’s estimated that on average 4.2 million tonnes of good food produced by schools is wasted each year. That isn’t including any other types of waste, which we’re going to discuss in this blog. If you’d like to find out more about where food waste goes head over to our blog Food Waste: What happens when it’s collected. Schools produce such a wide variety of waste types, and we’re going to look into all of them.

Paper and Card

Paper and card can both be recycled (as long as it doesn’t have any sort of glitter, foil etc on that you would usually find with Christmas or Birthday cards, so make sure you try to pull any off before recycling). When they have been collected, they’re taken to a recycling plant where they get separated by type and grade. It then gets washed with soapy water to remove ink, plastic film, staples and glue. This then is put into a large holder and mixed with water to create “slurry” and by adding different materials, different paper products can be created from newspaper to cardboard. The slurry then gets spread into large thin sheets using large rollers. Once the paper is dry it is ready to be cut and sent back to shops. However, the paper is made up of long fibres meaning, each time it is recycled, those fibres are shortened so, therefore, paper cannot be recycled indefinitely.

Plastic Waste

Some plastics can also be recycled, once collected it gets taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and plastics are sorted into polymer types, because not all plastic items are made from the same form of plastic, some are also mixed. Once the materials have been separated they get transported to reprocessing facilities to be recycled by plastic-type. The plastic will either be shredded into flakes or melt-processed to form pellets, which can then be moulded into new products such as water bottles.

Unfortunately, a lot of UK plastic recycling is exported abroad due to the labour cost and infrastructure in the UK waste industry, and while some of it is still recycled into new products it’s hard to track exactly what happens to it once it has left our borders.

Garden Waste

Garden waste gets taken to a composting site where it then gets turned into a nutritious soil conditioner. Once it arrives at the composting site any material that isn’t compostable gets removed, usually by hand, and the remaining waste is shredded, and then left to decompose. The last part of the recycling process is to screen the compost to remove any remaining contaminants and grade the material for various end uses. This process can take between 8 and 16 weeks.

Another process that is available is in-vessel composting, this is the same however is under pressure and microbes are added to the material to speed the process up.

General Waste

General waste is waste which can’t be recycled such as non-recyclable plastics, polythene, some packaging, etc. 10 years ago, This waste would have been disposed of in landfill sites but with the advances in technology and space in the landfills decreasing rapidly, it means that there are different ways that we can deal with general waste, such as recovering energy from waste. Non-recyclable products are taken to an incinerator which burns the waste and collects the gasses, the gasses produced are then treated and converted into Gas and Electric that powers your home/business.

Metals

Waste metal is segregated down into types and is sent to a furnace to get melted down into ingots, a mass of metal shaped suitably for further processing, and can be sent to manufacturers and production companies. These ingots can be shaped and moulded into a variety of products, one of the most common uses for recycled metals is packaging such as cans or even computer components.

Glass

Once glass waste has been collected and taken to be reprocessed it gets crushed, and contaminants are removed at this stage. The glass then gets melted in a furnace and moulded or blown into new bottles or jars. Glass is 100% recyclable and can be endlessly reprocessed with no loss of quality.

We can provide services for any of these waste types and will work with you to find the best sustainable solution for you.

 

   

International Women’s Day Special: The Story of Flame UK

Sunday 8th March is International Women’s Day, and we thought what a great time it would be to tell our story of how Flame UK began. In February 2015 our Managing Director, Pam Knight set up the company. But before we jump right to it, let’s rewind and start with a bit about Pam:

The story of Pam Knight

Pam was born into a hard-working background, growing up on her parents family farm in Long Bennington, Pam saw her parents work very hard from a young age. She recalls “My brothers, sister and I all helped. I was driving a tractor from the age of 8, doing all the ironing and cooking the family breakfast at 10 and potato picking at 12. I was brought up to appreciate hard work and the rewards from a young age.”

At the age of 13, Pam got her first job in Curry’s. “I was selling on the shop floor and signing up credit agreements – things were different back in the day! I left school at 16 and took an apprenticeship with a High Street Bank. I worked my way up to Bank Manager, and when I started my family, I took a career break. I then returned as the first job share Manager within Yorkshire Bank.”

“During my career break, I set up a property development business from the bank so that I could work around my children while they were young. Property has always been a passion of mine.”

So how did Pam get into the world of waste and energy?  “When my boys were little on a cold winters morning I was watching my eldest son play football. I got talking to one of the football Dads who was looking for some admin help in his waste business…the rest is history!”

“I set up the energy department for the business and started my career in Energy and Waste.  This started as a part-time position, however within a month it became full time as we were so busy, and there were only 3 people in the company at the time! I worked my way up to a directorship position and helped grow the company to 55 staff by the time the business was sold.

Very much like farming you sow your seeds and have to nurture them and wait a long time for them to grown, I feel a business is very similar, and when I set up Flame UK I knew it wouldn’t be for instant rewards

So, in February 2015 I set up Flame UK, and it was probably one of the biggest decisions of my life.  I live on my own with 3 boys to support, so everything always relied on me whether it was work or providing for the family.  I’m pretty sure my friends and family thought I was crazy when I sold the small property portfolio I had, which I used to live off, but they supported my vision. I didn’t pay myself a wage for the first couple of years as I started on my new business venture.”

The early days of Flame UK

“I started off in a small two-man office in the Bridgford Business Centre, I didn’t trade for my first six months of business as I needed to ensure I had the supplier infrastructure in place before trying to obtain business.

I moved from a two-man office into a six-man office and then moved again into an eight-man office in the first couple of years, before moving into our own premises on Churchill Business Park.

As a Director of a previous Waste and Energy business, I was involved at all levels of business, however, when you are on your own it really is a very different story.  You have to know and do everything yourself and keep yourself motivated even on really tough days, so the amazing title of Managing Director is Sales, Marketing, HR, Finance, Account Manager, Cleaner all rolled into one!

The last 5 years have been the biggest journey of my life so far, and I have learnt from the numerous mistakes I made in the early days.  My first website was shocking when I look back at it now, but at the time I thought I was doing the right thing by going with a cheap company and doing a lot of work myself.  I am now on my third website, which I am immensely proud of, but it has taken me 5 years to get there. Now it’s constantly being updated with the support of our in-house marketing department.”

The highs and lows

“I invested a lot of money into the staff to help me grow the business with me, but as supportive as some of them were they will never have the same drive and passion that you do.  Staffing will always be a challenge for any business, and sometimes there are very difficult decisions that have to be made. Sadly this is the reality of running a business and maybe as a woman, you become more compassionate with induvial circumstances, but at the end of the day business is business and you have to make those difficult decisions.

Just as I started to turn the corner with the business I was faced with probably the most difficult situation I have ever had to deal with. Embezzlement of money from the company by someone I had trusted to help me grow the business and appointed as a director. It took me through some very dark times whilst still putting on that brave face to my family who relied totally on me.

I decided at that time to involve someone that I had previously worked with, along with his business partner and dilute my shares to grow the business.  It was probably one of the hardest yet best decisions I have made to date in the business.  Having fellow like-minded positive people around me who shared my vision, the business started to go from strength to strength.

Setting up a business is not easy, and I probably work the longest hours I have ever worked in my life. Being in the office at 6am and working through until the job is done, I see staff leave at 5pm and know I have at least another couple of hours work to do.  However, I can honestly say it has been the most rewarding years of my life at the same time and my vision of 5 years ago has become a reality.

There are different decisions reflecting over the last 5 years that would have been made, however, you only know what you know at the time, and at the time they all felt like the right decisions.

I am looking forward to where I can take the business in the next 5 years with the dedicated and loyal team that now all support the same Flame vision.

Everyone has their own challenges in business and it is great to see so many women “just doing it” so well-done to everyone, and keep up the amazing work.”

Now we’re an ever-growing team of 12 and business is flourishing in both waste and energy, and it’s all down to Pam.

 

   

Gas Cylinder

Empty Gas Cylinders: What to do with them?

Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Industrial Gas cylinders are the property of the company named on the cylinder. If you receive gas cylinders to your site then they can be returned. You can contact us to arrange for UKLPG and BCGA members’ reusable cylinders to be collected.

What do you need to do?

The cylinders need to be stored securely and safely in an appropriate cage, and in an area that is safe for vehicles to park and the operator to load. The area should have hard standing, no build-up of slurry or mud and no overhead working taking place during collection.

Get in touch with us today and we will arrange for the relevant company or authorised agent to collect their cylinders.

 

   

Zero Waste Valentines Day Ideas

A lot of people have different opinions about Valentines Day. If you’re someone who likes to show your partner a bit more appreciation than you do any other day of the year, have you considered the effects of the waste produced? From food waste to packaging waste, it all piles up in the build-up to the one day.

So, here are our favourite ideas for a Zero Waste Valentines Day:

Homemade Meal

There’s no need to spend loads of money on a fancy meal at a posh restaurant when you can make your favourite meal at home. You can even go that extra bit further by making something tasty out of your leftovers. I know, that doesn’t sound very appetising, but Love Food Hate Waste has some great recipes made out of leftovers. You could even make a whole three-course meal. Not only will you not be contributing to food waste, but you won’t be physically going out to a restaurant, which means less Co2 emissions created by travelling to a restaurant.

A Shared Experience

Rather than spending money on chocolates, teddys, flowers, etc. Which not only contribute to the waste produced through packaging, they will most likely end up getting thrown away over time. So, why not tick something off the bucket list? Have you always wanted to go sky diving together, or perhaps there is a concert coming up that you both really want to go to. Gifting an experience is a great alternative, and will probably end up being appreciated a lot more. You don’t even need to spend loads of money either, it could be something as simple as Museum tickets.

A Break Away

Similar to a shared experience, you could plan a weekend away together. Travel via public transport such as a train to reduce your emissions, you could even go the extra mile by booking eco and sustainable accommodation.

Potted plants

Rather than gifting a bunch of flowers, which will eventually die and get thrown out, gift a potted flower or plant which you can keep alive.

Nothing

The best way to save the environment this Valentines Day? Do nothing. It’s always a big debate this time of year as to whether you should celebrate Valentines Day or not, a lot of people think it’s pointless. The opinion being that you shouldn’t need one day to show your partner you love them. What do you think, do you celebrate Valentines Day?

 

   

 

Food Waste: What happens when it’s collected?

The topic of food waste has started to pop up more and more as we are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact we have on the environment. Food waste can come from a variety of different outlets. From pubs, restaurants, cafes or food manufacturing sites, where ever it’s generated, we all have a part to play in reducing food waste.

Is separating food waste from general waste, actually worth it? Yes. Here is what happens to food waste once it’s collected, and why it’s worth separating.

What happens to food waste after it’s collected?

Food waste bins for commercial properties are around the same size as the bins we have at home. The services available are very flexible, both packaged food and uncooked food can be accepted within the collection. The bins come with a heavy-duty liner to ensure they remain clean and food waste from the prep area can be bagged and dropped into the bins at the end of the day. When these bins are collected, the truck driver will tie up the bin liner, put it straight on the collection truck, lift, tip and replace the liner when the bin has been emptied. The collections are flexible and based on the requirements of each customer.

Once the truck arrives back at the anaerobic digestion plant they tip into a specialised de-packaging area. Anaerobic digestion is the process of breaking down food waste to produce biogas and biofertiliser. During the process, bacteria break down the material and reacts to give off methane gas which is captured within the dome of the AD holding tanks. The methane is then captured and used as a fuel to power generators which feed electricity back into the National Grid. The remainder of the material can then be used as fertiliser, local farmers collect the fertiliser and spread it back onto their fields creating the perfect closed-loop approach.

It’s really important for businesses that produce food waste to consider this approach. Many waste processors are opting for energy from waste, however, leaving wet food waste in your business waste means that energy from waste facilities don’t want it. Leaving landfill as the only option even after the waste has been sorted.

Food is now a recyclable, just as card and plastics are. We pride ourselves in giving our customers a flexible service and offering a route of disposal for all materials, to suit every business need.

 

   

Waste disposal costs are rising – here’s why

The waste industry in the UK is having a difficult time, global markets have driven recycling revenues down, tax increases and levies threaten disposal routes, and the uncertainty of the market post-Brexit has all added to an already struggling market.

It has been well publicised how the world’s doors have closed to UK exported waste and recyclable materials, being at the forefront of sustainable solutions has been harder to keep up with than ever for UK businesses over the past 12 months.

Many businesses have been exposed to cost increases for the disposal and handling of its waste, as well as tumbling recycling rebates. In some areas of the UK, businesses have reportedly had no option but to pay for the disposal of their cardboard and paper recycling.

Government Taxes over the past 10 years have increased the strain on disposal costs, and a serious shortfall of infrastructure capacity of UK based waste to energy facilities are being blamed. The UK government are licensing more power plants than ever before, but ultimately, is it too little, too late? I guess we will have to find out.

The changing situation in the UK and the EU

A large percentage of the UK’s 32 million-plus tonnes of waste produced each year is sent for recovery through energy from waste plants. The UK has a small number of plants however, plants in Northern Europe are used to process waste into energy. Some countries in Northern Europe have now implemented additional taxes for plants turning waste into energy, these incineration taxes have impacted on UK disposal routes gate fees.

Cardboard and Paper

Recycling rates for the UK’s cardboard and paper have dropped by as much as 70% in 2019, as demand for our recycled material dried up, without new licenses being issued and recyclers opening their doors to the UK product, we can expect yet more reductions. Some parts of the UK have already seen rebates totally dry up, and some businesses are being charged for the removal of cardboard. Specification for recyclable cardboard has also increased during the last 12 months, putting pressure on recycling facilities to improve the grades of material they accept and process.

Helpful articles for you

We have done our research and put together a list of the articles we think will be the most helpful to you:

Cost of rubbish disposal to rise £1bn as landfill taxes increase

Landfill Tax: increase in rates

Dutch RDF import tax could see waste cost hike

Sweden introduces energy from waste tax on refuse derived fuel (RDF)

Dutch senate backs ‘RDF tax’ but court case looms

Sweden confirms EfW tax from April 2020

Quality push remains in falling cardboard market

Working through the worst of times (for cardboard recycling)

 

   

 

 

Waste Management – Solutions for every size event

The team at Flame UK has been in the event waste management industry for over 15 years, providing assistance with event planning, logistics and waste management for every size event. Here’s how we do it:

Litter picking/clean up services

Our litter pickers are dedicated, hard workers who are all employed by the company. Whether it be in a field or a stadium, we provide our litter pickers with the correct tools and equipment to ensure the job is done properly, no matter the weather conditions.

Did you know some sites will impose fines if you leave the event untidy or with litter? By using Flame UK’s litter pickers, we’ll ensure your site is left just as it was before your event.

Waste disposal and storage

We can offer a wide variety of wheelie binsskips and roll on off containers which are available for rental or to purchase. With years of experience in the waste management industry, we put our skills to excellent use, helping you to budget, plan and understand the options available for your event.

Bins on truck for event

Outdoor temporary lighting and power

Flame UK offers a broad range of temporary and portable lighting solutions. Suitable for any works environment or event, whether indoor or outdoor, we have a selection of lights and power solutions for hire that’ll suit your needs.

Temporary fencing and barrier hire

Events often use temporary fencing for hire as a short term and cost-effective perimeter for their venue, we have a range of barrier solutions to ensure your event is secure.

Water storage

We offer a range of services including water tankers, pallets of bottled water and deployment of bowsers and static tanks to any location, ensuring that your event flows as smoothly as possible.

Portable toilets and washrooms

Our portable toilets and washrooms are fully maintained and serviced by us; we’ll empty and service all units on a schedule to fit the requirements of your event.

Our bespoke solutions mean that we can provide a service tailored to your event. We will provide a solution that meets your environmental and operational objectives within a single communication stream, combining the strengths of several individual suppliers under one umbrella.

   

Flame UKs highlights of 2019

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is almost over already! As we come up to the last few weeks of the year, we want to share with you some highlights of 2019 for Flame UK.

Meet our people

Flame UK has had a brilliant 2019; it’s been a year of growth both internally and externally. We had a lot of new starters to help manage the workload from our growing number of customers. To help you get to know us, we’ve all put together some fun individual blogs, check them out here.

We’d also like to mention that the image we have used at the top of this blog was actually hand-drawn by Henry, our Operations Officer. He really does have an amazing talent, so be sure to check out his blog!

Our fundraising activities

Dove Cottage – At the beginning of August, we got in touch with Dove Cottage Day Hospice who offer palliative daycare to people living with life-limiting illnesses. We got involved with their plastic bottle top campaign to help raise money for them, as well as taking part in the Santa Fun Run. Check out our blog to see how we did.

Wear It Pink – Here at Flame UK we like to do our bit in raising money for charity, so we decided to have a pink theme day to raise money for Breast Cancer Now on their Wear It Pink event.

Flame UKs 2020 chosen charity announced

Our chosen charity who we will be supporting throughout next year is Headway Nottingham, who is a local charity providing support, guidance and longer-term rehabilitation for people adapting to life after brain injury. Make sure you keep an eye on our social media and sign up to our mailing list to find out how we will be supporting Rhiana Lakin and the team at Headway Nottingham.

Our Team Building Exercises

We’re big fans of team building too, from meals out together to some friendly Go-Karting! We have had lots of fun outside of the work environment throughout 2019, and we already have our first team-building exercise planned for 2020. Make sure you’re following us on social media to see how we do.

How Flame UK has grown this year

SmartTrash – As you probably know by now we pride ourselves in delivering cutting edge solutions to energy and environmental challenges to each and every one of our clients, SmartTrash is an innovative solution that Flame UK have helped pioneer for the UK market. Tried and tested around the world now available here through Flame UK, reducing waste collections, saving money and cutting carbon SmartTrash is going to make a huge difference to UK businesses. We are currently looking for some test sites which will benefit from SmartTrash free of charge.

Pallet Collections – Recycling unwanted pallets has been one of our focuses over the past quarter, where we launched a localised pallet collection round. Centred in Nottingham our man and van have been collecting used and unwanted pallets, collecting and recycling pallets that others either can’t or won’t. Everything from small quantities, odd shapes and even damaged pallets we can collect without cost and put the pallets whole or in part back into the packaging chain in the most sustainable and environmentally efficient way possible.

On-Demand Waste Collections – As of November of 2019, we’re able to offer waste collections from as quick as 2 hours from call out. We can take the headache out of junk clearances. Providing the labour, recycling and disposal we literally take care of everything, all you need to do is call, and we take care of the rest, leaving your site clean and tidy and waste-free!

Finally, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from everyone here at Flame UK!

 

 

Flame UK Plastic Bottle Top winner annouced

Plastic Bottle Top Collection – Winners Announced

If you follow us on social media, then you may have seen us mention Dove Cottage Day Hospice.

But, who are Dove Cottage Day Hospice?

Dove Cottage Day Hospice is an independent organisation who offer palliative daycare to people living with life-limiting illnesses. With the hospice based in the Vale of Belvoir, they also have a tea room on the Grantham Canal and charity shops in Stathern, Bottesford, Cotgrave and Melton Mowbray.

How has Flame UK helped Dove Cottage?

One of our team members, Helen, spotted the “Save your plastic bottle tops” campaign in the Bottesford charity shop window.  As we are a waste company, we thought it would be a great campaign for us to get involved in because the bottle tops can be recycled in exchange for money, which then goes towards the hospice. We began to collect bottle tops ourselves, and over the last 3 months we got local schools, businesses, family and friends involved.

Plastic bottle top campaign flyer

What was the response?

The response to the campaign was brilliant; everyone who took part did amazingly well. This pile here isn’t even half of the bottle tops everyone collected!

Plastic bottle tops Plastic bottle tops

Flame UK gets festive at the Santa Fun Run

Dove Cottage Day Hospice hosted their 5th annual Santa Fun Run on Sunday 1st December in the beautiful grounds of Belvoir Castle. The day was packed with lots of fun things to do from a snow blizzard to best-dressed dog competition and even birds of prey.

Thank you to everyone who took part:

Joanne Cooper at Fruit Bowl

Dave McGowan at Profit Master

Jackie Slowen at Winterton Community School

Claire Grainge at All Hallows C of E Primary School

Wendy Haywood at Burton Joyce Primary School

Gemma Atherley at PDW Group

Emma Cripwell at SAAF Education

Christine Lonergan at St Hugh’s

Mark Lonergan at Normanby Hall Parkrun Community

Well Being Consultant, Alison Jarvis

Chris Williams at Kingswood Residential Investment Management

Chris Oakes at OAX Life Coaching

Mike Sylvester at Sylvester Associates

Tim Ryan at Volute Web Design

Anna Webster at Circle Insurance Services Limited

Kathryn Rodgers at Face2Face HR Ltd

Katherin Wilson at Number 8 Glass

David Anderson at Anderson IT Management

Tony Towers and Simon Clark at Veracity Financial Planning

John McLean at John McLean Photography

Barinder Gahir at Barinder Designs

Fiona Wagland at Viva Vacations Ltd

Sally Richards at Sally Ann Sews

Haidee Watson at Adcock Accounting

Shamshad Walker at Shamshad Walker Marketing

Quinton Quayle at Quayle Industries Ltd

Personal Stylist, Suzanne Suthers

Shawn Bailey MBE at Utility Warehouse

Shilpa Miah at Hopkins Solicitors

Alex Thornton at Ignite Gas Plumbing & Electrics

Anton Fowler at Bubble

Anne Abba at Speak Confidently 

Stephanie Nash at Grantham A & E Department (ULHT)

Nichola Francis at Willow Brook Care Home

Claire Chetwyn at British Geological Survey

And all of the family and friends of our Flame UK team who got involved

Thank you card for everyone who collected the plastic bottle tops

The winners!

The school who collected the most bottle tops was All Hallows C of E Primary School, and the business who collected the most was Fruit Bowl!

 The school winner of the plastic bottle top competitionThe business winner of the plastic bottle top competition

Our chosen charity for next year is Headway Nottingham, stay tuned to find out who they are and how we’re supporting them.