As BP continues on our journey to supply goods and services whilst minimising our environmental impact we go behind the scenes to find out more about the 24/7 recycling and waste management operation managed by our UK retail logistics partner, DHL. We visit DHL’s BP Supply Chain facility in Lutterworth to find out how they are helping us to keep our stores stocked, remove our waste and run a zero landfill retail business
The majority of products in all of BP’s company owned forecourts start their journey here in Lutterworth, a small market town in Leicestershire. This 160,000 sq ft DHL warehouse managed in partnership with BP sends over 1.5m packets of crisps and 400,000 Wild Bean Cafe sandwiches every month to hungry drivers stopping to fuel up or grab a bite to eat at our BP forecourts. The depot manages the distribution of all ambient, chilled and frozen foods, as well as drinks, consumer goods, alcohol and cigarettes. It’s a massive operation as Nick Tretis the general manager at the site explains, “We have trucks that are on the roads 24hrs with deliveries taking place up and down the country, pickers working round the clock, new goods coming in and a team on waste recycling all hours. We have to manage all these processes as efficiently as possible.”
At the heart of this drive for efficiency is carbon neutrality. The depot has been proudly carbon neutral for five years. Nick explains, “We have been working with the BP Target Neutral and supply chain teams to put a plan in place to reduce, replace and neutralise carbon emissions and gain carbon neutral certification. It means we’ve had to look at all our processes and find smarter ways of working to reduce carbon emissions year on year.”
At the heart of this approach is BP’s commitment to zero landfill, which means the depot alongside BP operations and supply chain teams, has put in place an integrated waste management plan. All packaging and store waste gets loaded into the empty cages that were used for the delivery and sent back to the depot in the returning delivery trucks. This includes all unsold M&S and Wild Bean food that has passed its use by date.
Tracy Gowdy, DHL recycling and environmental manager runs the programme. “When the trucks return my team has to unload and sort the waste. Stores should segregate the recycling into plastics, cardboard, food waste and paper. Most stores are great at this but others need a bit more training on how to separate the waste. With over 20 tonnes of waste coming in each day, time is critical and therefore it is crucial that stores follow process.”
Once sorted all food waste goes into a food compactor which is collected by a third-party and taken to a bio-digester. Around nine tonnes of food waste is processed every day, “We are really proud that all the food waste and packaging goes into the bio-digester to be turned into gas and are working with our BP colleagues to see what other opportunities there are to make improvements.”
Tracy has seen huge gains in the volumes of material the stores send back for recycling, In January 2015 we had 73 tonnes of cardboard come back from the stores for recycling. In January 2017 this had nearly doubled to 132 tonnes. We have also seen increases in plastics and paper for recycling.
Getting the stores engaged in the waste management and the recycling process has been a major objective for Tracy, “Store staff change and we need to keep the communication up to ensure we get the waste back sorted and ready for processing. Mixed waste slows us down a lot so we are always trying to reach out to the stores to train staff in how to sort and pack the waste to make the process as efficient as possible – a lot goes on behind the scenes.”
BP’s supply chain team are working with Tracy to upgrade the plastic compactors and paper recycling shredding machines so her team can manage the increased volume of materials “These investments will really help to improve our ability to process the waste quickly and take on new stores in the future.”
BP has invested in technology to drive efficiency across the site. The pickers which fly around the warehouse collecting stock have moved to a new more efficient battery system which speeds the charge and lengthens the run-time. In the transport management centre they are using software to monitor and measure driver performance recording braking, engine idle, acceleration and combined coasting. Drivers are then scored A-G based on their performance with league tables and driver of the week incentives.
Phil Barwood, transport manager explains that this isn’t about ‘name and shame’ but incentivisation, “The drivers come back in and the first thing they ask is how they did. They develop a pretty good feel for the trip and where they think they can improve. They love the data and it’s all about helping them become better drivers. In whatever work you do, most people want to get better and this information supports that.”
The drivers come back in and the first thing they ask is how they did. They develop a pretty good feel for the trip and where they think they can improve. They love the data and it’s all about helping them become better drivers. In whatever work you do, most people want to get better and this information supports that.
The team are testing new vehicles with more efficient engines and improved aerodynamics as well as stop/start technology. Phil adds, “There’s always more we can do but we’ve seen significant reductions in fuel costs and maintenance outgoings across the fleet since we introduced the software so that spurs us on to look at new technology and process improvements.”
Upstairs in the offices Gary Pearce, the DHL HSE manager has been looking at other site-wide efficiencies. “We moved to low flush toilets a couple of years ago and have rolled out a LED lighting replacement programme which reduces energy consumption by 50% compared to fluorescent bulbs. Staff have become much better at recycling as we’ve taken away desk bins and replaced with recycling stations across the offices and communal areas.”
Gary is looking at using the considerable roof space for solar PV panels and wants to find ways to minimise heat loss from the building in winter. “There are lots of areas we can go after and we get great support from the senior management and BP to look at the options and see where we can make the gains. We won’t stand still because carbon neutral status requires that we target annual improvements.”
Mike Capper, a business development manager in BP Target Neutral has been working with DHL on carbon neutral certification. “The team here has made massive progress in the last five years. Visitors to our service stations will take a lot of comfort from knowing that our distribution partner is running a carbon neutral operation and maintains a zero landfill waste policy. It fits with BP’s objectives in the broader transition to the low carbon economy and we know that consumers increasingly care where their waste is going and where their food and drink is coming from.”
Nick adds, Running a carbon neutral business isn’t easy because it locks you into a process of continual improvements with efficiency gains harder to come by as time goes but we regard this as a fantastic challenge to keep us moving forwards. Most efficiency improvements come with cost as well as carbon reductions so it’s not only a good move for the climate but also good for our business.
BP’s UK retail supply chain manager, Rebecca Harrison says it’s a partnership approach, “It is BP’s vision to have zero going to landfill and therefore it is crucial that we work collaboratively with DHL, retail operation teams and buying teams to reduce food waste initially but then to recycle as much and as efficiently as possible. But being carbon neutral and environmentally conscious is not just about recycling; all aspects of the supply chain need to be considered. We have therefore worked with DHL on a number of initiatives to improve vehicle performance and also reduce mileage and trucks on the road and review all aspects of the depot.”