Closing the loop on the circular economy

Whilst we are focused on reducing single use plastics, projects displaying this level of circularity are key to locking-in plastic waste and aiding the transition to a more sustainable society.

By purchasing products made from 100% recycled plastics, which are themselves 100% recyclable, we are helping to build a stable market for such materials, ensuring the continuation of recycling operations and preventing these materials from ending up in landfill.

Marston’s – Waste and Recycling Coordinator



Marston’s PLC is a leading FTSE 250 brewery, pub and bar chain. The company employs around 14,500 people and has over 1600 pubs and 5 breweries across the UK. It is also the UK’s leading brewer of premium cask and packaged beers including Hobgoblin, Pedigree, Wainwright and Bombardier.

Since 2016, Marston’s has been working with UKWSL to manage more than 27,000 tonnes per annum of waste being generated across the estate. Core services include the management of general waste, dry mixed recycling, cardboard, food & glass. Throughout the life of the contract, one of UKWSL’s core areas of focus has been to minimise waste to landfill with the ultimate goal of achieving Zero Waste to Landfill by 2020. UKWSL has exceeded expectations to the extent that Marston’s are understood to be the first ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’ company in the hospitality sector.

The commitment to developing a more sustainable business means that simply managing waste in an environmentally sound and responsible manner is no longer enough. Working in partnership, UKWSL and Marston’s have been committed to supporting the development of the Circular Economy by creating closed loop solutions for the management of specific waste streams. The focus on closed loop solutions means that we are able to move away from the traditional linear economy approach of make, use and dispose towards systems that retreat, repurpose and reuse the waste produced.

As a result, the company has been able to optimise the commercial and environmental value of these secondary resources and has strengthened its position as a frontrunner in the UK hospitality sector.

One of the first circular solutions implemented, enabled Marston’s to tackle the issue of plastic waste, whilst at the same time overcoming a significant operational challenge.

The Sun in Romsley is a traditional village pub with a large beer garden and plenty of outside seating for its customers to enjoy a sunny afternoon and a drink. With so many people enjoying the garden during the summer, there was a corresponding need to maintain and look after the paths, grass areas and timber furniture. However, keeping up Marston’s high garden standards was a challenge during busy periods, with signs of wear and tear inevitable in such a popular location.

Working together, Marston’s and UKWSL developed a solution to redesign the garden using an innovative plastic material manufactured by Plastecowood for all paths, fencing and benches.

Plastecowood receives low-grade, mixed plastic waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill or incineration, and reprocesses it to produce recycled plastic lumber, namely planks, boards and posts.

To close the loop, plastic from several pubs in Yorkshire and the North East is taken directly to Plastecowood’s facility where for every tonne of mixed plastic received, one tonne of product is manufactured, leaving no residual waste being sent for incineration or landfill. The loop is further tightened as all furniture can be collected at the end of its useful life and used again to make the same product. The plastic lumber used is maintenance-free, robust, and has a long-life making it perfect for busy external locations such as beer gardens.

Marston’s has now committed to installing Plastecowood throughout the whole estate as and when sites are due to be refurbished. This is testament to the success of the project.

So far 435 benches have been installed. This equates to 41 tonnes of plastic being reused. Recycling just one tonne of plastics saves 3,114 litres of oil, 5,774kW of energy and 1,500kg of Co2 compared to manufacturing new plastics.

As one of the UK’s largest brewers, Marston’s bottles their own beers for resale in pubs, restaurants and supermarkets up and down the country. Their key supplier OI Manufacturing operates a bottle manufacturing facility in Alloa, Scotland.
OI Manufacturing purchases its feedstock of crushed cullet glass from a variety of sources in and around the UK and Europe. UKWSL and Marston’s worked with the supplier to identify some of the UK sources of feedstock and cross-referenced this with the disposal routes being used when collecting and recycling glass bottles from public houses. 
By conducting this level of analysis of both supply chain and disposal route, we were able to identify that some of the glass waste being generated by Marston’s was able to be sent via disposal routes back to OI Manufacturing.

UKWSL operates an outsource business model as opposed to the traditional self-delivery model.  What makes us proud is our ability to add value to the services received by our customers. Not owning bins, trucks and facilities provides us with the flexibility to source the highest quality and best-fit service providers for our customers. Traditionally, the emphasis is on cost, quality and the avoidance of landfill. However, in this case, we were able to focus our supply chain on the use of very specific disposal routes to provide real closed loop solutions for Marston’s, without any adverse operational or financial impact to sites.

The closed loop solutions being created by UKWSL, Marston’s, Plastecowood and OI manufacturing are a starting point for closed loop solutions. Further mapping of production and disposal routes for aluminium and cardboard remain an ongoing project and we are hopeful that we will be able to close the loop on these materials as well.

Changing attitudes, coupled with the development of new recycling and reprocessing technologies, continually present new opportunities for UKWSL and Marston’s to close the loop and develop new and innovative ways to further improve resource efficiency. We look forward to our continuing work with the Marston’s team, and supporting them on their mission to deliver an increasingly sustainable business to support their future growth.