World FM Day: An Interview with Cymbeline Leadbitter

11 May 2022
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Happy World FM Day! To celebrate, we are delighted to share an interview with our resident FM account expert and our newest Account Director, Cymbeline Leadbitter on her thoughts on waste management in the FM sector.

How did you get into working in the waste management industry?

It wasnt planned! Around 8 years ago, I had left my career in the City of London having worked in Asset Management and Custodian Banking for 15 years and my job was very long hours with a lot of overseas travel, and I needed something that was more suited to life with a young family.

I took a temporary job at a local waste management company while I considered my next move. I ended up really enjoying the role and the industry, and I’m still here all these years later!

 

How have waste management approaches changed in the FM industry over the last 8 years?

The David Attenborough “Blue Planet” documentary on the effects of plastics in the oceans in 2018 was a seminal moment in our public consciousness and a huge turning point in attitudes to how waste is treated, both by individuals and businesses. Management of waste went from being considered as rubbish to dispose of to a resource, valuing a culture that drives reduction, reuse and recycling. It’s thought that up to 88% of individuals have changed their behaviour since this documentary acted as a catalyst.

The sustainability industry has become centre stage and Environmental Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) is now of key importance to all organisations. The publication of the government Waste and Resources Strategy at the end of 2018 and the legislation that followed provided a drive to this change.

All of this has elevated the position of waste management in the workplace. We work with property management and facilities management companies on waste management strategies to help them meet their ESG targets, and getting it right is now a priority for most businesses. The industry is no longer about running the logistics of collecting waste, but now about consulting on how to help our clients achieve the best results and support ESG goals.

 

What do you find most challenging about managing waste in the FM and property management sector?

It can be a challenge to work with a building with a high number and diverse range of tenants; some properties have a mix of residential, hospitality, retail, and office tenants, and they all have their own soft services contractors, so the number of stakeholders we are working with is vast.

The challenge here is in delivering the strategy and tailoring it to the needs of each tenant so that is meaningful and will be successful. The end result is all the more rewarding though!

 

How can the waste management industry support the FM industry in their sustainability goals?

It’s important that the waste management company understands the nature of the property or business that they are working with and the waste that is generated, as every situation is different. This knowledge means that the waste management company can advise on best practices and apply the principles of the waste hierarchy in the plan so that the strategy isn’t limited to just recycling, but waste prevention too. It’s also important to provide the right training and support.

Lastly, good quality reporting is important so that the starting point and needs can be identified and results can be measured against targets and shared with the stakeholders.

 

How do you see waste management evolving in the FM industry over the next 10 years?

Legislation is an important driver for innovation; we can see that extended producer responsibility, the plastics tax, and the deposit return scheme have all generated innovations in technology and this will be the direction of travel for some time to come.

Waste reduction and reuse/redistribution are also opening up commercial and charitable opportunities in the coordination of redistribution of food and used office furniture. In terms of technology, funding is going into the development of new reprocessing plants to increase facility recycling capabilities, technological developments with equipment such as smart bins and sensors, and electric vehicles are being introduced as vehicles need replacing.

There is also an increasing amount of work being done to provide accurate reporting, using vehicle weighing technology.

The coordinated effect of all of these will be to ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of the industry.

 

Thank you, Cymbeline! We hope you enjoyed this interview, and Happy World FM Day!

? Did you know...

Businesses are legally required to manage their waste in line with the Waste Hierarchy, which means taking steps to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste wherever possible?

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