Set in the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, The Grove is part of the largest family-owned and run luxury hotel group in England and recognised as one of the Leading Hotels of the World.
The five-star hotel features two unique restaurants, an award-winning spa, championship golf course, and a host of luxury meeting and event spaces.
As might be expected, attention to detail and customer service is paramount throughout every corner of the 300-acre estate and that also extends to the hotel’s environmental credentials.
In May 2018, Grundon Waste Management took over the waste management contract and was set the goal of introducing a new waste strategy. Since then, The Grove has dramatically cut its amount of general waste, reduced its waste management spend and introduced a whole host of new initiatives to improve sustainability.
Jamie Grierson, The Grove’s Back of House and Logistics Manager, oversees waste management and is in charge of a team which includes kitchen porters, back-of-house supervisors, and operatives who empty the bins into the containers in the service yard.
He works closely with Jack Yarrow, Grundon’s Regional Sales Manager, who heads up the programme and has played an instrumental role in identifying and helping to implement the successful changes.
Jamie said: “Grundon has been very accommodating, they have driven the improvements and we have a very good relationship with Jack. Although we did some recycling before, it was nothing like this, Grundon has made big changes, improving our recycling figures and importantly, reducing our carbon footprint with fewer vehicle collections.
“It is not just about waste, it is about the whole process and we now make every effort to recycle as much as we can, which is really positive.”
Among the positive changes have been:
- Achieving zero waste to landfill
- Reducing general waste by nearly 25% over a 12 month period, which in turn meant 11 fewer collection journeys were required
- The introduction of over 60 new recycling bins to boost segregation
- An increase in glass bottle recycling means Grundon now collects 30 glass bins every week (only full bins are charged for) – over 60,000kgs of glass was collected in the first eight months of 2019
- Between January-August 2019, the following eco-savings have been achieved
- 631 trees saved
- 120,790kgs of CO2 saved
- 79MWh power generated
- Thanks to a recommendation made in the Grundon audit, polystyrene packaging is now collected for disposal by the supplier who delivered it
- The general waste compactor is now collected “on demand” as required, reducing the number of vehicle movements required
Improvements continue to be made and in July 2019, the amount of material sent for recycling reached a year-to-date high of nearly 28,000kgs.
Improving recycling, reducing costs and cutting carbon
The increased amount of recycling means The Grove receives credits on its waste account.
The reduction in The Grove’s carbon footprint has also been helped by the fact all Grundon’s waste collection vehicles are certified CarbonNeutral® and therefore do not add to their customers’ carbon footprint.
Jack Yarrow said: “The Grove had a number of goals it wanted to achieve as part of its waste strategy. Primarily it was to increase the amount of recycling and reduce costs, while also cutting carbon.
“We have substantially increased both the amount and types of waste being recycled and we have delivered real change, from practical improvements such as installing more recycling bins; to bigger projects like expanding the size of the cardboard storage area to help triple the rebate that can be earned on recycled cardboard.”
“One of our biggest initial achievements was introducing zero waste to landfill and we continue to look at how we can add more savings more on an ongoing basis.”
The first steps to waste management success
The success story began with Jack and the Grundon team undertaking a series of audits in order to understand procurement and delivery processes, waste types, and if any segregation was taking place. This included checking the service yard in order to review available space to expand existing facilities.
Staff education has played a big role in implementing changes and employees – including members of The Grove’s existing in-house Green Team – were invited to tour Grundon’s own waste facilities at Colnbrook, near Heathrow, which include a state-of-the-art Energy from Waste (EfW) facility and a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).
A further staff engagement event happened in September 2018, when Grundon organised a special on-site Waste Awareness Day at The Grove in order to reach as many other employees as possible.
Jack said: “We did three audits in total, working through every single department, talking to staff to find out what waste they were producing, we looked at incoming goods and how they were packaged, we spoke to suppliers to see how packaging could be improved, and we looked at how existing bins were being used.
“Employees found the facility visits very useful because they could see what we are doing to recycle, recover and reprocess waste, and it gave them a greater insight into the initiatives we have been putting forward.
“The Waste Awareness Day was also a great success. We had everyone from housekeeping staff, to events staff, laundry operatives and estate staff visiting our stand and they were really interested to hear what we had to say.”
The stand included Grundon giveaways in the shape of recycled pens and miniature wheelie bins, as well as information banners and leaflets, and a waste quiz giving everyone the chance to win a bottle of Grundon champagne.
Waste awareness and employee training
Jamie said: “Waste management training and awareness was a key factor in Grundon winning the tender. The environment is very important to us and we wanted to be able to prove to our customers that we are doing a good job.
“We weren’t just looking for a waste company that could save us money, we wanted someone who would work with us throughout the journey to improve our environmental credentials.
“We wanted to see things first-hand that we could start doing straight away and then, by the time we look to expand those services to our other properties, we want to be able to say we can do this and this too.”
Grundon has already provided a waste information page for The Grove’s induction toolkit for new staff and there are plans to introduce a waste handbook which all staff, including temporary seasonal staff, will have to read and sign to show they understand how to manage waste.
Any employees who are subsequently found to have flouted the procedures will be reported to the management team.
Bespoke new bins
One key initiative has been the installation of dozens of new internal recycling bins for the back-of-house areas.
A total of 65 new bins are now in place, meaning staff have no excuse not to segregate and recycle.
Demonstrating Grundon’s bespoke approach, Jack spoke to all back-of-house departments about their specific requirements and chose different bins in different shapes and sizes.
While some are tall and thin to fit in smaller areas, others are larger single use (mixed recycling), some are stackable, and the remainder are dual or triple purpose (a combination of mixed recycling, general waste and food waste), depending on where they need to be situated.
There are even plans to introduce dual recycling and general waste bins on The Grove’s prestigious golf course, which hosted the British Masters in 2016, and where newly-crowned Masters champion Tiger Woods won a World Golf Championship event.
Waste collections reduced as rebates rise
A Grundon review of the service yard saw one of the biggest changes, which should enable The Grove to triple the rebate it earns on its cardboard recycling.
Previously, the size of the existing cardboard storage area meant only 10-15 bales of flattened cardboard could be stored at any one time. Grundon recommended developing a new larger compound which, as well as giving more room, would also ensure stored cardboard is kept dry, therefore increasing its value. This is currently being built and should provide room for around 50 bales at a time, also helping to dramatically reduce the number of vehicle collections required.
A dedicated new metal skip has been installed, enabling The Grove to gain a further rebate on metal sent for reprocessing.
A new 32 cubic yard compactor has been installed for general waste and collections are “on demand” when required, rather than to the previous set timetable of once a week, which helps reduce vehicle movements.
Staff have been trained to recognise when the compactor is 80% full, at which point collection is arranged. Previously, compactor waste was sent to landfill, but now it goes to Energy from Waste (EfW), where the process generates green energy for export to the National Grid.
For more bulky general waste, which can’t fit into the compactor, a new skip has also been installed in the service yard. At double the size of the previous one, it has halved the number of collections required.
New hazardous waste service
Having identified that improvements were needed in the way the hotel’s hazardous waste (such as light bulbs, batteries, solvents, chemicals, aerosols and cleaning products), Grundon has introduced a new hazardous waste collection service.
The waste is now segregated into a dedicated hazardous waste container and collected by Grundon’s technical waste team. It is taken to the company’s Hazardous Waste Transfer Station at Ewelme in Oxfordshire for specialist treatment and reprocessing.
Nursery nappies segregated from general waste
With The Grove’s on-site children’s day nursery and crèche Anouska’s, looking after little ones while their parents enjoy some relaxing time to themselves, Grundon also realised there was an opportunity to tackle the disposal of nappies.
Until recently, soiled nappies went into the hotel’s general waste compactor, but as Jack explains: “Nappies are very heavy and added considerably to the weight of the general waste. We talked to our clinical waste experts who introduced a dedicated new service just for the nursery, which means nappies are segregated, collected and disposed of as offensive waste at our Energy from Waste facilities.
“This has saved the hotel money, both by reducing the weight of general waste, and the fact that the nursery now pays separately for the disposal of the nappies.”
Tackling bedroom recycling in the hotel
A number of environmental initiatives are also taking place across the hotel’s 215 luxury rooms and suites.
Plastic water bottles have been replaced with glass water bottles and a recycling programme has been introduced for guest toiletries.
Room maids empty the glass water bottles and put them into newly-delivered Grundon recycling bins in storeroom areas, where they are collected and sent for recycling. The small plastic bottles of toiletries (shampoo, conditioner and body wash), which previously went into a general waste compactor, are now collected and put into a large Gaylord box.
This is then collected by a charity which reprocesses and repackages the contents for onward distribution to needy families in both the UK and overseas.
The Grove has previously been a winner of The Triple ‘H Awards’ – The Hotel Housekeeping Honours – and Amelia Lawrence, Head of Housekeeping, said: “We try to look after the environment as much as we can and, with examples such as recycling the glass bottles and having the new bins, Grundon has helped us take some really big steps in the right direction.
“The toiletries programme has been a massive success and it has been 100% worth it. All the staff have been very positive about it too, they all recycle at home and now they can do so here too.”
In addition, a new initiative introduced in May to boost sustainability sees guests deciding how often they require their bedlinen and towels to be changed, rather than it happening on set days. Amelia says it has seen a “massive” improvement, with only between 3-5% of guests requesting regular changeover days.
Plans are also in place to look at introducing washing powders and other necessary products with reduced packaging.
Office waste recycling solutions adopted
Recycling is also increasingly being promoted in the office areas and one of the first areas to adopt the changes was the events team, where Kathryn Lawrence, Resort Sales Manager works with a team of 29 in the Meetings & Events sales office.
“Our office has a lot of paperwork, we print all sorts of reports, information and stats for events, now we can make sure it is all recycled and it is so easy,” she said. “Before we had under-desk bins and one big metal bin, so this is a big improvement.”
Grundon also provides a confidential waste collection service to handle the safe, secure and compliant disposal of confidential waste.
Food waste focus helps recycling improvements
The Grove already has an in-house food digester, which turns food waste from the kitchens into grey water.
Grundon has helped to make an additional difference by making sure that food waste from offices, which would previously have gone into general waste bins, is now segregated and also sent to the digester.
Additional food waste bins have also been installed in the kitchen areas.
The Grove’s wider environmental commitment
Waste management aside, The Grove also goes to great lengths to ensure other sustainable measures are in place. These include:
- Solar Panels installed both on top of the hotel and down in the GMB to cut down on electricity and do it in a greener way
- A full LED light changeover in both the back-of-house and front-of-house area, which will be completed early in 2019
- Introduction of five car charging electrical stations, to show its support towards and promote electric vehicles on site
- Membership of the Electrify Watford Initiative, which promotes public transport going electric. This would mean The Grove offering an electric and petrol taxi to guests and eventually having an electric shuttle bus for staff
- All spa members are now given The Grove branded re-usable water jugs as opposed to plastic water bottles. Plastic cups for the dispensing machine are also being replaced by bio-degradable or washable ones
- Reusable washable slippers now replace disposable ones in the spa
Looking ahead, future projects include de-scaling equipment to help with the limescale build up in the water system, thereby reducing the amount of chemicals being used and water cleaning treatments. In turn, this means less plastic and transport will be used. Within the next 18 months, The Grove is also looking at installing a Combined Heat & Power Unit Generator which will look to cut emissions by as much as 30%.