Schneider Electric: a composting interview

We are delighted to announce that Schneider Electric are closing the loop! Switching disposables suppliers gave Schneider Electric the opportunity to switch to Vegware and set up composting collections at not just one site, but two. Leading the way in establishing these collections is Schneider Electric’s Environmental, Health and Safety Specialist, Rachel Cox. We spoke to Rachel to find out how she set up collections for used Vegware and food waste.

Hi Rachel, could you tell us about your role at Schneider Electric and what the business

“I joined Schneider Electric in 2020 just before the Covid lockdown as a Transport Administrator. Having an Environmental Science degree and after an epiphany during the pandemic, I wanted to steer my career path differently and moved into my current role as an Environmental, Health and Safety Specialist in March 2022. My role encompasses the health and safety of Schneider’s logistics colleagues, as well as local site biodiversity and sustainability actions, including energy. Schneider’s purpose is to empower the world to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability. In the UK, we are a sustainability partner and drive net zero, electrification, automation and the energy transition through our digital solutions products.”

At the very start of the process, you reached out to Vegware’s Environmental team. Could you tell us a bit more about your motivations for doing so?

Our canteen at Telford had switched suppliers and, in the process, some Vegware packaging had already been introduced. I reached out to Vegware to understand if the products would meet the standards set in our Biodiversity Guidelines handbook. We could implement compostable container alternatives for food and drink as long as they were certified to EN13432 and we had a segregated waste stream. I wanted to make sure we were implementing this change correctly and that we could promote composting practices that can be easily replicated at home.

Composting information on display at Schneider Electric's Telford office
You have been able to set up the composting collections for two sites, Leeds and Telford. Are you able to briefly describe the process?

I was closely involved in the implementation of composting collections at the Telford site. Once the packaging switch was agreed, our Facilities Management Provider set up the new waste provider. We had been advised by Vegware that the compost collection could run via a local company, and it would be composted in Shrewsbury. Eilidh (Senior Waste Management Consultant) at Vegware helped us navigate any issues and despite a brief delay, it was a quick process to onboard the waste company.

The collections are a significant change for both sites. How did Vegware’s Environmental team assist in implementing this change?

Eilidh was invaluable to our implementation at Telford from providing hints and tips on how not to fall at the first hurdle with items such as teabags, produce labels and the correct bin bags, to identifying the waste collection provider and following up when this wasn’t aligned correctly the first time. We wouldn’t have had such a smooth implementation without Vegware’s assistance. The posters and video links provided by Vegware were great to get people talking and highlight the changes as we ran a structured introduction on the run up to the go live date. We were also grateful for the Vegware Engagement Day on May 23rd as this really struck a chord with colleagues and opened up wider discussions about onsite sustainability

How have the collections been received by staff?

The collections have been well received by staff. We used internal direct mail, Yammer and displays by the canteen, with bright signage above each bin to make the changes as noticeable as possible. Following the Vegware Engagement Day we had lots of interest in the process at the composting facility. Many colleagues were surprised that the ‘plastic looking’ items could breakdown so quickly. The next step of our engagement is to visit the composting facility and create more promotional media and reminders. We have also started to weigh our collection bins so we can calculate how much compost we have created!

Schneider Electric place a lot of emphasis on sustainable practices. How do the composting collections fit in with this?

“Schneider places sustainability at the heart of its business, with a particular focus on the lifecycle of its solutions and the efficiency of products and services. The composting collections fits with these themes, as well as from a biodiversity and sustainability viewpoint. The purpose of our local level actions is to align and empower colleagues so that they can begin to make small steps towards sustainability both at work and at home. Small actions can accumulate to a large impact.”

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