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 western Europe, built close to the site of the 2012 London Olympic Park.
The retail establishment recently won the RWM Sustainable Facilities Management Award, thanks to its zero-waste to landfill initiative and recycling efforts.
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.
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 per cent and is currently at more than 90 per cent.
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.
St Marks Shopping Centre - Lincoln, UK
St Marks Shopping Centre is the largest retail outlet in Lincoln. Last year, 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.
St Marks Shopping Centre. Credit http://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 per cent and won a Golden Award in the Green Apple Environment Awards.