When the Assembly Rooms reopened after an eighteen-month refurbishment project, it was with the vision of implementing policies that would take them closer to becoming a Zero Waste venue.
They set out to learn as much as they could about Zero Waste initiatives, and Bar Manager, John-Paul Valentine, attended conferences and spoke to industry peers to discover what they were doing to reduce the waste they sent to landfill.
He knew he wanted to explore working with Changeworks Recycling further, and around that time we won the tender to become the preferred waste management company for the Essential Edinburgh Business Improvement District. When he looked into how much it would cost them to switch, he saw that it made financial sense too. Apart from the preferred rates, the fact that we charge a fixed monthly fee for recycling, and a variable fee for general waste, helped Assembly Rooms drive behavioural change from the top. If waste costs start to rise, management gets involved to drive an increase in the amount of waste that’s recycled, thereby reducing their costs.
In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, Assembly Rooms started to separate their waste a couple of months before we took over the contract. We also undertook site visits with the general management to help them understand how our system works, and how we can support them to recycle more. We facilitated staff engagement sessions to help them understand the benefits of recycling more of their waste, which we continue to do in order to reinforce the message. All the preparation really paid off, the transition went smoothly and Assembly Rooms now recycles 90% of its waste. And as you can see from the quote at the beginning of this post, it was really easy once they got used to it: even in a busy bar environment.
Assembly Rooms are truly committed to playing their part in the protection of the environment. As well as switching to Changeworks Recycling for all of their waste management needs, they’re involved in a raft of other environmental projects. They supported the ArtCop Scotland circular economy project that saw an artist work with school children to look at everyday materials and resources, and examine how they can be reused or upcycled. They displayed the children’s artwork in both Assembly Rooms and Church Hill Theatre, and came up with the idea of making a film with the children, of which Changeworks Recycling funded half. They’re also involved with a Government initiative to house beehives on the roof, and in August, during the Edinburgh Festival, when they weren’t allowed to serve drinks in glasses, they used compostable plastic cups and recycled them as food waste. It’s really no wonder that they were nominated for a VIBES (Vision in Business for the Environment of Scotland) award.