Using resources efficiently
We are committed to using resources efficiently reducing the materials we use in our development activity and sourcing them from ethical and sustainable sources, promoting reuse and circular economy principles, encouraging recycling and using water wisely.
We continue to divert all our operational waste from landfill, and have recycled 65% across our portfolio, performing below our target of 75% recycled and reused by 2020. Due to our diversified portfolio, our waste management performance varies significantly across our assets. We have achieved this target across our commercial office portfolio, outperforming it for the last two years, achieving 82% in 2020/21. In 2018/19, our shopping centres also outperformed our target, at 76.8%, leaving only the outsourced managed leisure and retail parks as the portfolio segments not achieving 75% recycled and reused. Since we set our waste target, we’ve seen a significant improvement in the accuracy of waste data. Using actual waste data rather than estimated data, and a better understanding of offsite Material Recovery Facility (MRF) outputs, have resulted in a minor decrease in the reported recycling rates, especially within the retail portfolio.
Finally, and most significantly, this year the recycling rate across our retail portfolio has decreased to 67% from 72% in 2019/20, as a direct consequence of Covid-19 restrictions. A reduction in recyclable materials produced by brand partners and F&B (such as packaging materials, cardboard and glass) and a change in operational procedures to minimise infection risk to operational staff, has had a direct impact on the amount of waste collected as well as that recycled.
The 75% recycling target is still achievable, albeit challenging in the current climate. We are therefore extending our commitment for 75% recycling to 2030 to align with our expanded new construction waste commitments announced last year. We will support this by working with our employees and customer to reduce, re-use and recycle waste, running campaigns and incentives across the business, building upon our successes of recent similar campaigns.
Additionally, we are running an in-depth waste auditing exercise at the third-party managed retail and leisure portfolio on sites that produce a significant amount of waste but are not achieving our recycling target. We will use this information when retendering for the waste service in this portfolio. As part of our commitment to our community partners, we also donate any Surface Pros we no longer need to some of the charities we support.
Circular economy Initiatives
Closed-loop glass recycling
Glass is infinitely recyclable to its highest environmental value (that is, as glass) if it is segregated properly, so at Portland House we’re working with our demolition contractors, Erith, to segregate it carefully. To date, we’ve removed just under 100 tonnes of glass from site, avoiding an estimated 29 tonnes of CO2. We anticipate recovering an estimated additional 200 tonnes of glass from the project as it progresses. The glass then goes on to a specialist contractor, eventually to be re-melted as float glass. This improves on the traditional approach of mixing it with other waste to be used as aggregate.
A second life for used raised-access floor tiles
Raised-access floor tiles are standard products in the real estate industry, of standard size and specification. They’re also typically wasted, discarded during strip outs and demolition, only to be replaced by new tiles serving exactly the same function. This is costly and environmentally wasteful, especially as the tiles will sit underneath a floor covering. Tiles can be salvaged, cleaned, re-tested and re-installed. We work with one of the UK’s largest recycling companies for raised floors, developing a product where refurbished second-hand tiles can be painted with low-VOC paint, to ensure visual consistency on show floors. We created a prototype during the works at Dashwood this year, which proved acceptable to many leasing and technical partners. We estimate the recycled tiles are at least 50% less carbon intensive than new ones which can significantly contribute to further reduce the embodied carbon of new
Reducing single use plastic
In 2018 we launched our ‘Refill Me' campaign to help tackle the issue of single-use plastics. The campaign allows guests at our centres to request a free refill of water, in their own bottles, from brand partners without an obligation to make a purchase. Not only does this encourage people to refill reusable bottles, but also provides an opportunity for our brand partners to engage with our guests on sustainability and demonstrate that they are a responsible company.
Brand partners who sign up display a refill me sticker in their shopfront with animated digital signage and digital logos available for centres to advertise the campaign to guests. We continue to support our customers in reducing single use plastic by partnering with Ape2o and installing two of their filtered water dispensers within the public area of our One New Change and New Street Square sites. The machines allow the public to refill their own water bottles with chilled and sparkling water.
Reducing food waste
Three of our retail sites – including Westgate Oxford, – use eco food digesters, which use the process of aerobic digestion to break down up to one tonne of food waste a day into wastewater. This process not only ensures no food waste is taken to landfill, but it also contributes to a reduction in CO2 emissions by reducing the number of waste vehicles travelling to our centres.
Tackling textile waste
Fashion and textile waste is an emerging and increasingly high-profile problem. We aim to show that action can be taken to protect the environment without placing retailers under financial strain. We’re responding to calls from the government to place a levy on fashion items by mobilising an alternative plan focused on collaboration rather than taxation.
Our first response to the textiles issue was a trial scheme, ‘spring clean, think green’, launched in March 2019 at Westgate. During that time, we invited guests to drop-off used clothes and shoes for recycling, gave them information on the possibilities created by recycling and incentivised them through competitions. Following this trial, we’re planning to roll out textile recycling to other destinations.
What we buy and where we buy it matters at every level of our supply chain - from the design team and main contractor to the operatives on site and our suppliers producing materials across the UK and abroad. To get it right, we take a thorough approach to sourcing sustainable materials.
We’re committed to sourcing core construction products and materials responsibly. This includes environmental and ethical sourcing, health impacts, embodied carbon impacts and resource efficiency considerations. But supply chains in construction are often fragmented and transient. That’s why we’ve developed clear guidelines.
In early 2020, we published our Prohibited Materials List. This sets the minimum requirements for sourcing materials on our projects. Since then, we have expanded its scope and published our Materials Brief to provide guidance to design teams on materials that we would avoid, prefer and those that would be ideal. We circulate this guidance at the start of any project. From avoiding laminated glass to recommending air purifying paints, the list states clearly our expectation of high quality and thoughtful design. With construction progressing on four of our sites, our procurement has been a lot more varied in 2020. Despite this, we remain on track to source 100% of our core construction materials with responsible sourcing certification, and exclusively from the UK and Europe.
Our guidelines for our developments are simple. Core construction materials including steel, concrete, hard landscaping and facades should always come with responsible sourcing certification. Where certification isn’t available, we ask for evidence of basic health, safety and environmental management. And for every development we always target FSC Project Certification, to guarantee timber is from responsible sources. Across our development pipeline, we have early in-depth conversations with specialist contractors, to be able to influence design and specification, and we request information from suppliers to improve transparency in our decision making.
What’s on the surface matters too, and for our material finishes we’re recommending we select, wherever possible, natural low-carbon materials that can be sourced locally. At Nova East, the proposed palette includes extensive areas of carbon-negative materials such as cork and timber
To meet our carbon target, we’re also addressing supply chain emissions by specifying materials with recycled content, concrete with cement replacement, metals with low carbon emissions from their manufacturing process, and source heavy materials like stone locally. Other factors like cost, availability and lead in time are equally important, but we need carbon to be considered for every material choice if we want to reduce our supply chain emissions.
The first step is to simplify our designs to limit the cost of materials. Buying fewer materials is the best way to reduce carbon. For instance, at Lucent W1, we’re reducing embodied carbon by 20% by designing the structure to be leaner and simpler to build, alongside specifying low-carbon materials. This will save materials and programme costs. We’re also adopting modern methods of construction, such as a platform approach to design for manufacture and assembly, reducing the construction time, waste and cost. At Sumner Street, this approach achieves a reduction of over 19% in embodied carbon compared to traditional construction methods.
We then focus on the properties of the materials we specify and procure (alongside cost and availability), to adopt low-carbon alternatives wherever possible. This means careful analysis and selection of every raw material we use. Our aim is to avoid materials with a high-carbon intensity such as traditional steel and concrete. We replace them with materials that have a high recycled content, an inherently low-carbon profile, such as engineered timber, or that are sourced locally.
Our materials brief and prohibited materials list
The Global Slavery Index shows that certain countries have a substantial risk of slavery in manufacturing. So, when our designers specify materials or our contractors buy materials from outside the EU, we will engage with the supplier to ensure our expectations are met. Sometimes this will be in the form of an assessment, where we check suppliers against fair pay and labour standards using tools like SEDEX, EcoVardis and SA8000.
With our growing development pipeline, we’ve taken a closer look at our procurement policies to equip ourselves and our partners with the right tools for meeting our expectations.
That’s why we’ve published our new Materials Brief which includes our Prohibited Materials List, to strengthen our fight against modern slavery in the sourcing of construction materials. The brief contains the material requirements for common materials used on Landsec development and portfolio projects. It also sets out the materials we prohibit use of in our construction activities based on health impacts, responsible sourcing, embodied impact and resource efficiency considerations. The prohibited materials list is based on the Walkfree Global Slavery Index and on the Ethical Trading Initiative, to enable us to assess materials and geographical areas at risk, and promote sourcing of responsible materials.
We’re laying out our expectations from our partners clearly, so we can address human rights challenges within the industry and discuss how we’ll work together to increase transparency and minimise risk. Our Prohibited Materials List complements our Sustainability Brief for Developments.
As part of digitising our construction methods, we trialled a cloud-based software, at the Forge. This automates site data collection and uses artificial intelligence to provide accurate and immediate insights into waste and material movements to and from the construction site. It has proven extremely effective at minimising environmental risk. We have set a number of responsible procurement targets at the Forge. Since starting on site, Qflow has identified 159 risks early by flagging any noncompliance at the site gate, removing any human handling errors and minimising the time needed to address them. It has also given us insights into waste movements off site, allowing us to think how we can manage our waste more efficiently. It is making our supply chain more transparent and has proven vital to staying on track to achieve our sustainability targets at the Forge. The trial was so successful we have extended it for the duration of the construction, and are now working with QFlow to increase use of their data in our reporting and planning.