As we covered recently in our industry-insider piece on effective waste logistics management for the construction industry in London, our capital city, like many towns and cities in the UK, has a massive problem with a lack of space, ridiculous congestion, and a burgeoning population.
To compound these problems, we are having to deal with a growing waste epidemic. It’s a bad combination.
In this article, we move away from speaking about the construction industry and talk to those whose premises are restricted by Central London’s spatial issues.
The big squeeze – exponential population growth
First off, before we look at solutions for combatting London’s restricted space, we should make note of why the problem exists, and why it is only going to get worse. Sorry Londoners, we have to be honest, but it’s not all doom and gloom, don’t worry.
Currently, the population of London is 8.78 million, according to the Office for National Statistics. By 2025, we should expect to see 10 million living inside the city, but, with congestion a huge issue, and a shortage of housing, where are these extra 1.22 million people going to go, and how will they get around? That, our dear readers, we don’t know. This massive urbanization is not just happening to London; Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester are also experiencing rapid growth.
For businesses, of course, it means a more diverse and interesting workforce, but it also means that costs are liable to increase, demands for usable space will rise, and…
Rent per square foot will make casual storage too expensive
If it isn’t already, the cost of casual storage is going to be too expensive for most businesses. The fact that you can rent a box room in London for more than £1,000 per month should be indicative of how much it’s going to cost to store items in the future.
Currently, commercial space in 8 out of Central London’s 19 popular business districts cost more than £100 per square foot in London to rent per year (more than £8.50 per month). Whilst business storage options like Big Yellow, SafeStore and Access offer space for a fraction of that price, they don’t offer the convenience of having the store in the same place as your operations. They also don’t offer a solution for bulky or hazardous waste.
Services at the drop of a hat?
The average business in London produces enough waste to have a bin collection every 7-14 days. The problem is, what happens if that bin fills quicker, and there’s no available space to store the waste?
Alternatively, what if you produce a lot of waste, and you want to keep your waste streams separate, but your rent is increasing and you simply can’t afford the space that storing this waste affords? What happens when a business has bulky waste items, such as old furniture, IT equipment, and in some cases hazardous waste that cannot be stored?
The answer is to have a waste services provider who can take your waste at the drop of a hat, right? Well, yes (that’s what we do) but beyond that, the real answer starts at the source, and with the reduction or removal of packaging.
Companies that have a proactive and intelligent approach to storage can plan in advance and are in a much stronger position to minimise the spatial impacts on their commercial area. Combining this approach with intelligent purchasing and employee behaviour towards all things waste-related will help all businesses in tight units to manage space more effectively.
Managing bulk waste in Central London is a nightmare
One of our customers, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a facilities manager for one of London’s biggest skyscrapers. With more than 4,000 people working inside, there’s a huge amount of waste being created, and an incredible demand for space.
Storing bulky furniture is an absolute no go. If there is enough space to store a desk, it’s turned into an office. It’s there is enough space for a few chairs and cabinets, it becomes a meeting room. If there’s enough space for a couple of bins, there’s enough space for a desk. The value of space in business terms is way too great to consider storing waste or surplus assets.
Logistically and operationally that presents a problem that we see all too often in Central London, the client saying ‘We literally cannot store it. It has to go right now’. Of course, it’s an interesting challenge having to deal with bulky waste in Central London with such immediacy, especially having to navigate our way there and back without getting stuck in traffic all day.
The lack of space in the buildings then creates pressure on the roads, leading to congestion (another lack of space). London already has the worst traffic in Europe, with the average driver spending 96 hours per year sat idly in their car. When one space is created in Central London, it is simply taking space from something else, and that is the route of the nightmare.
Waste & London don’t go together
But even if they are a match made in hell, they still need someone to try and find solutions. Here at Enviro Waste, we are doing just that. We are looking at urban design, intelligent delivery and collection networking, waste processes and green business operations to find ways for Central London businesses to cope without storage space.
Right now, ‘last minute material’ is the solution that our customers need, and so we make it happen. We build waste strategies to keep waste to a minimum, recycling to a maximum and reuse as a consideration, even for businesses who are too busy for waste but require ongoing help. We share educational materials and try to promote sustainability, but truly the greatest service we offer to Central London businesses is the promise to get there quickly and take items as soon as we can.