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.
What constitutes a single use plastic? Put very simply, this is any item of plastic packaging that will be used just once before being thrown away. Whilst plastic drinks bottles come under this banner, so do items such as balloon stalks, tea stirrers and cotton buds. We're already pleased to assert that we don't use any of the latter items here, but we do still sell drinks in plastic bottles - so, why is this?
In cinemas, we sell bottled soft drinks - including water - in plastic bottles that are known by the product from which they are manufactured, PET. PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, and it's a form of polyester (just like the clothing fabric).
PET bottles are classed as a single-use plastic, however, one that is completely recyclable and has a lower carbon footprint than alternatives.
We recycle all plastic bottles that are left on our premises, and we know that 95% of the bottles we sell never leave the building, with the vast majority of customers leaving them at their seats after the film or depositing them in a bin which we then sort at the end of the night. We know that once recycled, a plastic bottle can be back on the shelf as another product within 6 weeks, and we also know that bottled drinks suppliers are starting to use more recycled content in their bottles.
When we talk about carbon footprint, we mean the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of any given process. Looking at drinks bottles, we take into account their manufacture, transport and end of life disposal or recycling method - as an example, because plastic bottles are much lighter than glass, they take less energy to transport between locations. A plastic bottle has a carbon footprint just 1/4 that of an aluminium can, and 1/5 that of a glass bottle. This is why the major drinks suppliers, such as PepsiCo or Coca Cola are focussng on recycling their products, rather than replacing them with alternatives that may not be better for the environment
Composite packaging is that which is made up of two or more different materials. Examples of this are cold drinks cups, ice cream tubs and some hot drinks cups - these kinds of packaging need a thin plastic coating in order to prevent the product itself from damaging the container and to keep it waterproof. These products are notoriously difficult to recycle because it is hard to separate the materials from each other. However, we've been pleased with the wider progress on this, with several companies in the country now being able to recycle these products - we're hoping to introduce a route to recycling for these very soon.
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 and pouches, but we are working on a solution - the Nestle Group are working on a project to 'take back' sweets wrappers, and we hope to see some progress on this early in 2020.
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.
Bring back your reusable containers, and save 25p on every purchase!
We've sold loads of different promotional cups and tins, so why not make the most out of your collection. Every time you bring in a reusable container, we'll give you a 25p discount on the item you're purchasing. You can also bring in any vessel of a comparable size to be refilled.
The offer is available on all sizes of Fountain drink, Ice Blast, Popcorn and hot drink. We're very sorry but we can't accept reusable containers for pick & mix (as we have to weight the sweets) and by law we can't accept them for alcohol.
All you need to do is make sure that your container is clean and present it to the cashier when you place your order. Hot drinks cups must have a lid otherwise we can't fill them (so you, or our staff, don't get burnt).
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.