Case Study: Silverstone - Putting waste management on pole position at Silverstone

As Lewis Hamilton celebrated his winning performance at Sunday’s Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix, the champagne bubbles had hardly had time to go flat before the big clean-up operation got under way.

Every summer, Silverstone race circuit attracts some 275,000 people over the three day event and in 2013 they left behind well over 300 tonnes of dry waste.

By 11pm this Sunday night however, the vast majority of the clean-up had been completed, with final operations taking place Monday and today (Tuesday).

With the help of partner Grundon Waste Management, a relationship which goes back some 20 years, Silverstone has established its own 13-strong dedicated waste team and vehicle fleet.

Grundon at the home of British Motor Racing Silverstone
Grundon at the home of British Motor Racing Silverstone

Taking a green approach is very important for venue manager Lee Howkins and his assistant manager Stuart Jenkins and, after the 2013 race weekend, Howkins was proud to report that 91% of all waste was recycled, reprocessed or sent to Energy from Waste (EfW).

Howkins’ team draws on past statistics and its own knowledge to determine where the highest volumes of waste are likely to be, ensuring compactors and bins are strategically placed to deliver the maximum benefits.

Waste stations with 1100 litre bins are installed at key points around the circuit, including outside each team’s garage and at each individual concession, with black bins for general waste and green ones for recycling. Some of the larger merchandising units also have their own waste station or a mobile compactor to make life even easier.

“We’ve undertaken education campaigns with on-site caterers and contractors to encourage them to ensure their waste is disposed of into the right containers at the designated pick-up areas and the majority of them now adhere to our guidelines,” continued Howkins.

“Silverstone has invested a lot of money over the years in recycling and the benefits we’re now seeing are huge. Being able to divert waste from landfill and achieve a 91% reprocessing and recycling rate was pretty fantastic.”

For 2014, Grundon introduced additional services, including a cardboard baler to take care of cardboard from the catering, merchandising and hospitality areas, as well as glass recycling units.

The collection process is carefully scheduled, including the not-so-small matter of wet waste from the temporary toilet blocks, tanker waste collections are timed to coincide with when the vast majority of race goers watching the cars (or bikes) on the track, rather than using the facilities.

As well as the premier Grand Prix weekend, the Northamptonshire venue hosts a myriad of other events, including the MotoGP weekend, driving experience days, corporate hospitality, conferences and exhibitions and overall, more than a million people walk through the gates every year.

Silverstone also has its own business park, with around 2,500-3,000 employees on site every day, working for a variety of companies.

Having its own two on-site refuse lorries enables waste to be collected on a daily basis before being compacted and stored at key locations until it is collected by Grundon for onward transportation to its Materials Recovery and Energy from Waste facilities.

Race weekend facts and figures:

  • 275,000 people attending over three days
  • 150 post-event litter pickers
  • 90% of waste collected by 11pm on the last day
  • 300 x 1100 litre bins
  • 500 x 240 litre bins
  • 2 x 12 yard glass skips and 12 x 240 litre bins for glass
  • Cardboard baler
  • Savings achieved = 84,400kg of CO2 or the equivalent of planting 880 trees

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