With customers needing fewer waste collections during lockdown, our recycling team has been able to help our sister charity FareShare Greater Manchester deliver an unprecedented amount of surplus food to communities in need.
FareShare GM is based next to our recycling operation in New Smithfield Market and has faced sky-rocketing demand since the lockdown came into effect. Around 51,000 people in Greater Manchester are now accessing its food from frontline charities each week, and well over a million meals worth of food has been re-distributed in just a matter of weeks.
Here at EMERGE Recycling we’ve played our part. Our vans have been re-tasked to help with food deliveries, about a third of our warehouse space has been turned over to surplus food storage and some staff were redeployed to provide skills such as forklift driving to move supplies as quickly as possible and maximise throughput.
We’ve also provided vital office-based support to help FareShare on-board new community food members (CFMs) like FC United of Manchester, just one of a number of new emergency food hubs that have set up since the COVID-19 outbreak.
EMERGE Recycling Director, Gareth Jones, explained:
“During lockdown the vast majority of our regular recycling clients closed down, so we’ve been operating at about 15-20% of normal capacity. Instead of resting on our laurels, we saw this as an opportunity to turn over our logistics infrastructure to help with the food distribution effort.
FareShare GM has been able to deliver more surplus food to charities than ever before, so we’re really proud of our whole team and the bodies on the ground who have helped make it happen.”
Plans for the future
Moving forward, EMERGE Recycling is looking to adapt to the new realities of life after COVID-19.
“Although more of our regular clients are beginning to open up again, we have to recognise that some parts of the business community may never be the same again. For example, the move to remote working means less commercial paper waste is being generated in offices. From April to June we collected 18 tonnes of confidential paper waste for shredding, compared to 86 tonnes this time last year.
We’re still working with the same reprocessors in Greater Manchester to support local jobs during the recovery, but we’re also looking to pivot our business towards other waste streams such as plastic and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). We’re even looking at the potential to create our own recycled products in future such as eco-packaging.”
One of our more exciting developments is our new WEEE recycling and reuse service. We’ve been awarded £60,000 from the Material Focus campaign to make it easier for everyone to reuse and recycle unwanted electricals such as old IT equipment, small electricals like hair dryers, and other equipment from homes. We’ll be announcing more on this very soon, so watch this space.