Following the adoption of a radical new approach to recycling, Mermaid Quay has been shortlisted as a finalist in two prestigious national awards – the National Recycling Awards and the Sceptre Awards.
Frustrated by the limitations and costs of Mermaid Quay’s recycling arrangements when he was appointed in 2014, the centre’s manager, Justin Patel, identified this as his top priority and he quickly developed a phased strategy for dealing with the centre’s waste.
By December 2014 he had arranged for 100% of the general waste to be collected for environmentally efficient disposal an energy recovery centre just four miles away in Cardiff Bay. The proximity of the facility also reduced vehicle movements.
Early in 2015, he introduced a scheme to encourage the centre’s tenants to segregate waste on site and worked with each business to find individual bespoke solutions that were easy for each of them to implement and therefore more likely to be .
In March 2015, a BioNova C5 “digester” was installed at Mermaid Quay. This is now yielding a 60% to 70% saving in disposal costs and vehicle movements by converting the centre’s food waste into a “digestate” which can be used as either a soil improver or a biomass fuel. The digestate is currently being used in the planters around Mermaid Quay and at St Fagan’s (Cardiff’s open-air history museum), as well as for local landscaping projects and farming.
Justin Patel explained: “With most of the tenants at Mermaid Quay being restaurants, cafés or bars, and with over 5 million visitors a year, the centre produces a lot of food-related waste. Much of that used to go to landfill despite our previous recycling efforts.
“But now, we send nothing to landfill; the food waste creates soil improver; all the cardboard is collected free of charge; and our segregated recyclable waste is collected by local companies for less than a quarter of the previous cost.”
Plans for the future include working with the tenants to try to simplify their segregation of waste and identify further ways to reduce the levels of waste generated. The potential for using the digestate as a biofuel for a new boiler to generate heat and energy for use on site is also being investigated. As reducing energy consumption, this will also produce a further reduction in vehicle movements.
Justin Patel added: “Our tenants, our customers and the local environment are already winning through the centre’s reduced environmental footprint and the much lower costs associated with dealing with all of our waste. If we also manage to win an award or possibly two later this year, that would simply be the icing on the cake for Mermaid Quay.”
The Sceptre Awards are organised by Shopping Centre magazine. Mermaid Quay is a finalist in the “Waste Management” award category.
The annual National Recycling Awards are organised by the leading recycling industry publication, MRW (Materials Recycling World). Mermaid Quay is a finalist in the “Food Waste Initiative – Private Sector” category.