18 years ago, Renewi and the East London Waste Authority signed a 25-year private finance initiative contract to create public-private partnerships and deliver an integrated waste management service. Since then, Renewi have invested over £100m in new and improved facilities, waste transportation, and municipal communications. The project manages 445,000 tonnes of annual municipal waste, 93% of which is recycled.
On average Renewi had been operating at a £3m annual loss with a target to pay back £1.4m per year. This number more than doubled to achieve £3.8m in cost savings with an additional £1.5m-£2m opportunity in benefits.
This was achieved via a continuous improvement project that targeted the mindset of employees. Initially there was resistance to change, but this was addressed by implementing and monitoring achievable KPIs and value-added tasks, as well as self-assessed control processes to boost operators’ autonomy. These projects covered areas such as maintenance and engineering, rationalisation and maintenance spend, maintenance activity frequency and associated work standards, cleaning routines, refinement innovation, and crane missions.
The success of these projects meant that the next step was the sustainability of them. Continuous improvement, by definition, does not stop. If implemented properly, it becomes a way of life. Once this project had achieved above and beyond its desired results, it became increasingly backed by stakeholders, allowing Renewi to stretch their boundaries. They now aim to deliver less than 1% downtime across the site and to hit recycling rates that have not been hit in 18 years.
Renewi has over 6,000 employees across 174 operating sites in Europe and aims to be the leading waste-to-product company in the world’s most advanced circular economy.