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How the Coronavirus has affected the Zero Waste movement

From plastic bag charges to the promotion of reusable coffee cups, these were the steps included in the action plan for the UK public to be less wasteful. That was until 2020 hit the entire world with an unexpected health crisis, the Coronavirus.

At the beginning of March 2020, Starbucks made the decision to temporarily pause the use of personal cups or tumblers in their stores across the UK, as a precaution to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Many cafes and restaurants have made the switch to takeaway and delivery services, which too comes with its effects on the environment too. With food which would usually be served on a plate, now in takeaway packaging, and food waste rising due to unpredictable ordering patterns making it easy to prepare more food than is needed leading to an increase in food waste.

If you use an online grocery delivery service from supermarkets, you may have also noticed the plastic bag charge has been temporarily suspended by the Government and is expected to end on 21st September 2020. According to the Government, the change will speed up deliveries and reduce the risk of contamination. People have also taken it upon themselves to stop using their reusable shopping bags in stores, and start using the single-use plastic bags which they can then dispose of once they have finished with them. Indeed many delivery companies like Ocado have suspended their carrier bag takeback schemes.

For many Governments and Organisations across the world containing the virus is currently a greater priority than environmental concerns. But, no one truly knows how long these temporary changes will need to last. Can the zero waste movement survive the Coronavirus?

 

   

Thank you for the thank you’s

As isolation continues across the UK to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, people across the country have left their thank you messages for key workers who are continuing to provide vital services.

Along with the clap for the NHS and care workers every Thursday at 8pm, people have been leaving heart warming messages for refuse collectors who are also in amongst those classed as essential workers. From sticking notes to their bins, to writing on the pavement in chalk on collection day, which our Finance and Operations Administrator Helen, did to show her gratitude. The messages don’t go unnoticed and are certainly appreciated.

Waste collectors are vital to avoid the overflow of rubbish which if left to mount up, can cause a spread in diseases, attract vermin, harm the environment and ruin our community reputations. You can read more about this in our blog about fly tipping here.

If you have rubbish which you can’t put in your wheelie bins, perhaps you’ve had a clear out or it’s simply just over flowing, you can read about our on demand waste collections here or get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

 

   

Is your city the worst fly-tipped in the UK?

Fly tipping is the illegal dumping of waste onto land, including being tipped on a site with no license to accept waste, instead of using authorised methods such as kerbside collection.

Fly tipping is bad for the environment, it spreads diseases and encourages vermin, and the earth could absorb toxins leading to the prevention of future greenery growth. It’s bad for wildlife, household goods could contain substances which potentially can kill a wild animal if it gets ingested, or they can get entangled in plastic which can lead to suffocation or strangulation. And, it gives communities a bad reputation as being run down or dirty.

The Solar Centre have looked at 59 cities across the UK and ranked them against 10 key eco-friendly metric, we’re going to focus on fly tipping to identify the worst and least fly-tipped cities.

The Worst Fly-Tipped City

With a score of 0/10 the worst fly-tipped city is Plymouth, according to Plymouth Live, “A third of all reported incidents of fly-tipping in the South West, for the financial year ending in March 2019, came from Plymouth. Statistics released by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) showed that 59,334 incidents occurred, 19,622 of which were in Plymouth. That number is up from the 13,953 incidents from the previous year, an increase of more than 40%.” Closely followed is Southhampton, and Leeds.

   

The Least Fly-Tipped City

Scoring a perfect 10, Chester is the least fly-tipped city according to The Solar Centre, closely followed by Chelmsford and Bangor.

What to do if you have waste you need to get rid of?

We can provide a wide of services to suit you and the waste you have, from skip hire to on demand waste collections, to pallet collections, we can help. All you have to do is get in touch with us on 0115 896 5460 or click contact us below, and we’ll do the rest.

 

   

Clearing out your work space?

Like many of us across the country, you may have reduced business due to the restrictions in place while we tackle the Coronavirus. That doesn’t mean the time has to be spent being unproductive, it’s time to get those jobs done that you’ve been meaning to start but just haven’t had time for in normal business. Maybe that’s clearing out an old office, or sorting your archive cupboard, or maybe even disposing of redundant products. Now is the time to get those jobs done that you keep putting off, so you’re ready to bounce back once this is all over. And to help you during this process we’ll act as a single point of contact for all of your waste disposal needs, so you don’t need to waste time finding different companies, you can focus on clearing out your workspace.

Can you really collect all types of waste?

Our clearance teams are on hand to safely collect and recycle pretty much any type of waste product you have, but if you’re unsure what type of waste we’ll collect, here is a list of common items we remove from clearance jobs. Don’t worry if your items aren’t on here, get in touch with us and we’ll try our best to help!

Pallets – you can download our helpful resource on the types of wood pallets here.

Oil Rags

Tyres

Cardboard and Paper – Do you produce cardboard on a regular basis? Find out about our cardboard collection service here.

Baled Waste

Hard and Soft Plastic

Old Furniture

Rubble

Soil

Wood

Fabric

Newspapers and Pamphlets

We can provide a variety of services to suit your needs from skip hire, you can find out what size skip will suit you here, or we can offer on-demand waste services. Our on-demand waste service is a fast, and efficient all in one rubbish collection that we can offer nationwide. Get in touch to find the right option for you.

 

   

On demand waste collection

What to do with your waste during Covid-19

We’ve been in lockdown for some time now and with it being unknown when we will see it come to an end, more of us have been trying to keep busy by doing work around our homes. From giving the garden some TLC to giving your living room a makeover or even just having a good clear out, maybe you’ve done all of those! As we’re seeing more people getting stuck in with their DIY projects, we’re unfortunately also seeing a rise in fly-tipping up and down the country. In fact, The Countryside Alliance reports a 300% rise in fly-tipping in some areas after local authorities closed recycling centres, allowing them to concentrate on kerbside collections.

We do have a solution for you because we know how important it is to some people to keep busy during these challenging times. It’s a solution which means you don’t need to illegally dump your waste, you don’t need to stop your projects, you don’t even need to leave your home.  Our solution is our on-demand waste collection service, all you have to do is get in touch with us and we’ll come out to collect your waste. Whether you’re overflowing with rubbish, had a garage clear out, or maybe you’re looking for an alternative to a skip. Well, our man and a van collection service may be the answer for you.

We’re here to help you, no matter how out of ordinary your enquiry is for us. We have been helping people nationwide with their waste collections, and have even provided a delivery and collection service. We had someone reach out to us who couldn’t get their sofa delivered. So we arranged for one of our on-demand waste collectors to go and pick it up and then deliver it safely to their door.

Our customers are one of our top priorities and we will always do our best to support you, more so now than ever during this difficult time.

Get in touch, we’ll be happy to help.


   

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?