A Case Study at Center Parcs, Whinfell Forest
- Cost savings of over Á£40,400/year
- Annual water consumption reduced by over 30,000 m3
- Diversion from landfill of 25% of all waste generated at the site
- Improved environmental performance
Background Whinfell Forest opened in 1997 as a self-contained holiday village offering outdoor and indoor activities. It was acquired by Center Parcs as its fourth UK site in 2002. An initial environmental audit highlighted the large amount of work needed to bring Whinfell Forest up to the environmental standard of the companyÁ¢ÂÂs other villages. The
systematic approach formalised in the companyÁ¢ÂÂs environmental management system (EMS), which is certified to ISO 14001, was applied to the key areas of reducing water consumption and minimising the costs and quantities of waste sent to landfill.
Water Minimisation Initiatives
Center Parcs sites use large amounts of water in meeting the domestic, catering and leisure needs of their visitors. In 2003/04, Whinfell Forest village used some 301,600 m3 of water, which equates to around 34 m3/hour of water consumed and discharged to sewer. The majority of water is extracted and supplied to the site through two boreholes. Mains water is used only as a back-up if the borehole supply fails.
A leakage detection survey performed by the local water company in April 2003 identified a total of 89 leaks around the site. Repairs to these leaks were carried out as part of the everyday site maintenance programme, resulting in a reduction of over 6,000 m3/year in water use and Á£4,200/year in sewerage charges.
An initial water mass balance indicated that the lodges used the most water. Installation of various water minimisation devices in their bathrooms has reduced
water use significantly.
- Flow regulators have been fitted to 750 showers, reducing their flow rate from 30 to 9 litres/minute. This reduced water use by 23,000 m3/year, saving over Á£16,000/year in sewerage charges. A payback period of two weeks was obtained on the total cost of the devices of Á£600.
- Cistern volume adjusters saving 1 litre of water per flush have been fitted to 740 toilets. This resulted in water savings1 of over 1,000 m3/year, representing cost savings of Á£756/year in sewerage costs. The payback period was immediate as the devices were supplied free of charge by the water company. Additional savings will be achieved once every shower and cistern on the village is equipped with similar devices.
Waste Re-use and Recycling Schemes
A total of 18 different types of waste are currently recycled, re-used or composted at Whinfell Forest village including cardboard, glass, metals, adult and child bikes, furniture and computers.
Where possible, cardboard is re-used on site, for example, to package damaged bicycles sent off-site for refurbishment. Cardboard that cannot be re-used is baled (see Fig 1) and sent off-site for recycling. In 2004/05, 98.6 tonnes of cardboard and paper were recycled. At a resale value of card of Á£25/tonne, this generated revenue of Á£2,465 while also saving Á£5,523 in waste disposal costs.
Other waste initiatives include:
- towels and bath robes that are no longer fit-forpurpose are re-used and made into massage mitts for use in the siteÁ¢ÂÂs Aqua Sana spa;
- participation in the Á¢ÂÂSave a CupÁ¢ÂÂ scheme2 whereby all plastic drink cups are collected and sent off-site to be recycled into pencils (see Fig 2);
Fig 1 Cardboard is collected and baled prior to recycling off-site
Fig 2 Vending cups are collected and sent off-site for recycling into pencils
- developing a questionnaire for the siteÁ¢ÂÂs suppliers to complete, to demonstrate best practice and to encourage them to implement an EMS.
Guests are encouraged to make full use of the recycling facilities situated around the village. These are advertised in the guestsÁ¢ÂÂ Á¢ÂÂgreen packsÁ¢ÂÂ provided in each lodge and through the dedicated information channel on each television unit.
Working with Charities
Center Parcs donates a large number of re-usable items and equipment to various charitable trusts as part of its commitment to working with the local
community. Each year, the Whinfell Forest site donates approximately 300 bikes to the Inside Out Trust.3 This charity trains prison inmates to refurbish bikes, which
are then sent to Eastern Europe and Africa. The inmates benefit because they receive a recognised National Vocational Qualification (NVQ). Around
3.5 tonnes of waste are diverted from landfill each year through this scheme (see Fig 3), saving Á£56/tonne in waste disposal costs. Computers and some electrical goods are also donated to the Trust. Whinfell Forest village donates furniture to the charity Centrepoint, which supports the homeless. In the first six months of this scheme, 1,750 items of furniture (equivalent to 68 tonnes) were recycled.
Most of the waste originates from refurbishment projects on the lodges and apartments. A typical one-month refurbishment project sees approximately 50 small kitchen appliances (toasters and kettles), 20 double duvets, 35 single duvets, 144 pillows and 12 highchairs sent for recycling. Any additional items of bedding are donated to the Salvation Army.
Staff are actively involved in all initiatives designed to improve environmental performance. Á¢ÂÂBright IdeasÁ¢ÂÂ is a corporate scheme that has been in place for the last three years to encourage staff to provide suggestions for environmental and recycling improvements. Each suggestion implemented is awarded Á£25. An annual Á¢ÂÂGolden Wheelie BinÁ¢ÂÂ competition is also held to reward staff for their waste minimisation initiatives.
The various water saving and recycling initiatives at Cardboard 7,988 8,000 12 months Whinfell Forest village have resulted in cost savings of Glass* 7,280 over Á£40,000/year, with a payback period of only four months (see Table 1).
Fig 3 Damaged bicycles are stored prior to refurbishment
The initiatives at Whinfell Forest have resulted in:
- a reduction in water use of 30,107 m3/year;
- 298 tonnes less waste sent to landfill in 2004/05;
- 230 tonnes of waste recycled in 2004/05, of which
42.9% was paper/card and 56.6% was glass.
By the start of 2005, 15 Á¢ÂÂ" 20% of all waste was re-used or recycled. This figure has already increased to 25%, keeping the site well on its way to achieving a target of recycling 40% of its waste in the next 2 Á¢ÂÂ" 5 years.
The site is looking at ways to reduce the frequency of deliveries to and from the site, with the aim of reducing the number of vehicle movements and increasing the use of local suppliers. Research is also being carried out into rainwater capture and the possibility of greywater recycling.
Table 1 Summary of costs and savings for 2004/05
Whinfell Forest, Center Parcs
The 400-acre Whinfell Forest site near Penrith on the edge of the Lake District can accommodate up to 4,668 guests at any one time in 772 lodges and 79 apartments. With occupancy greater than 95% all year round, the site has an annual capacity of 1.35 million sleepers. The village houses a total of 12 restaurants, bars and shops. Other facilities include swimming pools, a sports plaza and a bowling alley complex. Whinfell Forest village employs approximately 1,600 staff (full-time and part-time).
Comments from Center Parcs
At Center Parcs, we view water efficiency and waste minimisation as essential steps on a longer journey. One thing is clear when it comes to water efficiency and waste
minimisation, having the ideas is easy. The hard part is turning these into action. But once these actions are taken, they are easily turned into savings.
Á¢ÂÂWe view water efficiency and waste minimisation as essential steps on a longer journey.Á¢ÂÂ
Mr S Drury, UK Environmental Manager Mr S Drury, UK Environmental Manager
Host Company: Center Parcs Ltd Head Office, 1 Edison Rise, New Ollerton, Newark, Notts, NG22 9DP
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Useful publications from Envirowise
(GG414) -Measuring to manage: the key to reducing waste costs
(GG26R) -Saving money through waste minimisation: reducing water use
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