How we are working with Kent County Council to increase recycling, reduce waste and cut carbon

Kent County Council needed a new recycling partner to help reduce waste, increase recycling and deliver a cost-effective boost to their sustainability credentials. We teamed up with them to help them achieve their key sustainability targets through our global expertise, delivered locally.

Kent County Council (KCC) is the largest local authority in England. It comprises of 12 local authority districts and includes over 600,000 households. As part of the tender process, KCC was looking for a reliable mixed paper recycling partner within the County that could deliver a high quality and transparent service.

A strategy for sustainability

In recent years KCC has been working hard to improve its sustainability credentials. By being part of the  Kent Resource Partnership (a collaboration between the county council and 12 district councils), it has welcomed segregated waste collections and the development of a Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy to set improved recycling targets and monitor success. 

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In 2018/19 KCC achieved 47.2% recycling rate, placing the county in the top third of local authorities for its recycling performance1. By the end of 2020/21 they are aiming to increase this rate to a minimum of 50% of household waste being recycled and composted. Delivering on these targets would place KCC in the top 75 performing local authorities in England2.

A local solution with far reaching benefits

Following a competitive tender, DS Smith Recycling was awarded a contract to process KCC’s mixed paper. Our strategic partnership will now provide auditable recovery routes and total transparency through data driven analytics, plus comprehensive support from our experienced team who will work closely to increase recycling, reduce waste and reduce costs.

As Europe’s largest paper and cardboard recycler, we manage around 6 million tonnes of material every year, over half of which is processed through our own operations. Our biggest paper mill in the UK, Kemsley paper mill, is based in Kent and also has its own recycling depot. With an annual production capacity of over 820,000 tonnes, this will enable us to recycle all of KCC’s mixed paper recycling close to its source.

On top of managing KCC’s recycling, it also means we can help to reduce their carbon footprint by cutting road miles. This additional benefit aligns perfectly with our Now & Next Sustainability Strategy, which commits to a 30% reduction in CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions per tonne of production by 2030, against a 2015 baseline. In striving to achieve our emissions targets we are also helping our customers to achieve theirs.

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Better recycling means better quality

We believe it is critical to focus on improving recycling infrastructure through strategic partnerships, such as this, to ensure as much fibre is captured for recycling and therefore reducing waste going to landfill. With the surge in online shopping, rising 30% in 2020 compared to 10% in 2019, meaning more and more cardboard ends up in households, it puts further pressure on consumers and collection services. 

KCC’s actively supports the segregation of recycling at source and as such is already keeping more recycling in the supply chain for longer and, as part of our partnership, we plan to reduce contamination, improve the quality of mixed papers and educate residents about the best practices.

We are delighted to start a new recycling partnership with Kent County Council and are looking forward to working with them to reduce waste and increase recycling. Our innovative solutions, closed-loop model and account management will help to further reduce contamination, improve quality and ultimately push recycling rates even higher in the region.

— Sian Farrell, New Business & Contract Manager at DS Smith Recycling

We care about the communities we operate in

All our sites have an important role to play in their communities and we build strong connections with local people and play our part in supporting the improvement and protection of the environment.

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Over the years we have focused our attention on many community initiatives around our Kemsley paper mill and recycling depot including annual tree planting, beach cleans, litter picks in local green spaces and funding a book by local UK anti-litter charity ‘Litter Angels’. We are committed to inspiring and educating future generations to transition to the circular economy so we are also delighted to be working with local schools and youth groups.

Our partnership with DS Smith to provide recycling services for our paper and cardboard will support our efforts towards reaching our recycling targets. This is a new and exciting venture where we look forward to establishing a relationship with the Kemsley Paper Mill to improve Recycling in Kent. Its expertise in recycling and the location of the site within Kent County was an important factor in investing in this new partnership.

— David Beaver, Kent County Council
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