Last Updated On August 1st 2023
In this article we take a look at some of the best shopping centres for recycling, taking into account innovations and recycling rates. The retail industry knows that it’s a significant contributor to plastic pollution worldwide. Every year, it churns out millions of plastic-encased products and sells them to consumers, often for rock bottom prices.
While this might be a great boon for people in the short term, if too much plastic saturates the environment, it could become extremely harmful in the long-run. Some shopping centres, therefore, are looking at ways to improve plastic recycling and mitigate their effect on the environment.
Let’s take a look at the top five shopping centres from across the globe and what they’re doing to tackle the issue of recycling.
Westfield Stratford City – London, UK
Westfield shopping centre is the largest shopping complex in Europe, built close to the site of the 2012 London Olympic Park.
The retail establishment won the RWM Sustainable Facilities Management Award in 2013, thanks to its zero-waste to landfill initiative and recycling efforts. They also received a Green Apple Environment Award in 2018, which recognise and reward environmental best practices across the world.
Westfield is different from many shopping centres. It segregates all waste on site and stores it in silos until its ready for processing.
The outlet also runs what it calls the “Green Academy” where it encourages staff to compete against each other to reduce waste. It’s a mix between a recycling awareness campaign and a chance for colleagues from all over the shopping centre to learn about best practice. By implementing large-scale behavioural change, managers at the shopping centre hope to make consumerism more sustainable.
The Westfield Good Festival
Westfield also partnered with Amplify for the launch of the Westfield Good Festival in April – May 2023. Over 10 days, visitors experienced how sustainability will evolve in the future.
The agency worked with Westfield to highlight its sustainability, community and CSR approach. They created a space within Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City, showcasing an entertainment stage curated by locally sourced partners and hosts for a variety of talks & panels.
Bluewater Shopping Centre – London, UK
When Bluewater Shopping Centre opened in 1999, one of its core tenets was to operate sustainably. Since then, it’s worked hard to improve recycling and waste management.
The statistics at Bluewater are impressive.
The shopping centre has sent no waste to landfill since 2008. It’s also actively working towards a recycling rate of 100% and is currently at more than 90%.
In fiscal year 2017, Bluewater recycled more than half a million kilos of food waste and nearly five million kilos in total. The company is also committed to reducing single-use plastic consumption and allows customers to fill up water bottles at any retailer with the Refill Me sticker.
Throughout August 2023, Bluewater is also hosting free eco-craft workshops. These are designed to promote sustainability and teach visitors about bees and the vital role they play in maintaining our ecosystem.
St Marks Shopping Centre – Lincoln, UK
St Marks Shopping Centre is the largest retail outlet in Lincoln. In 2018, it noticed that recycling rates for coffee cups at the outlet’s numerous coffee houses were poor.
Recycling rates for coffee cups are worse than for most disposable products because of the way that the cups are made. The inner lining of the cups is made from a type of plastic, while the outer shell is cardboard. While each is widely recyclable individually, the same is not the case when they are together.
St Marks Shopping Centre decided that it had had enough of this sorry state of affairs and contacted recycling specialists to make a special bin for coffee cups. The new containers make the job of recycling coffee cups much easier. Customers just deposit their cups in these bins and the shopping centre ships them off to a recycling centre that takes care of the rest.
ReTuna – Eskilstuna, Sweden
ReTuna is a shopping mall in Eskilstuna, near Stockholm, that’s taking advantage of its location to recycle practically everything it sells.
First, every item in the shopping centre is second-hand. Practically every store offers products which have been “upcycled” – things which were unwanted that retailers have made into something desirable.
Second, the mall is located right next to the city’s recycling centre. The residents of Stockholm drive to the recycling centre, drop off the things that they don’t need and leave it to the mall to create new value from them. Retailers are free to pick through the waste, look for the things that they need, and then use them to make new products.
In 2021, IKEA Retail Sweden opened the world’s 1st IKEA secondhand store as a test in Retuna Recycling mall in Eskilstuna. Now in 2023, they have announced the store will be extended until 2025.
St Marks Shopping Centre. Credit https://explorelincolnshire.co.uk
Clyde Shopping Centre – Clydebank, UK
Clyde Shopping Centre already has quite a reputation for its green credentials, having won a Green Apple Award For its environmental aspirations. Now it is looking to achieve even greater things and become one of the greenest places to shop in the UK.
One of the most successful schemes has been the implementation of a new wood chipper for recycling wood pallets. When a company finishes with a wood pallet, they send it to the onsite chipper. The chipper then breaks down the wood into small, constituent parts ready for composting. Once the compositing is completed, the shopping centre can use the resulting material for its landscaping. Since implementing the machine, Clyde Shopping Centre improved recycling rates to 96% and won a Golden Award in the Green Apple Environment Awards.