Target #6: being a good neighbours as well as doing good things
14 January 2021
Keeping communities safe
We also work tirelessly to minimise the impact of our operations on local communities and remain committed to managing and reducing emissions to air, land and water, and pollution of any kind. There are times when we must proactively protect communities from the impact of the work on our sites. This may be due to odours, fires or leaks and spills of contaminants, and we make efforts to respond decisively. Fires in particular can be a hazard in our industry and are often caused by old batteries thrown into waste, which can easily combust. We therefore have sophisticated on-site firefighting equipment and educate the public on the dangers of throwing away hazardous waste such as batteries.
However, from time to time fires can have an impact, as was the case at the Forest site in Belgium in 2019, when a blaze caused disruption to the nearby railway service. In another case, fire extinguishing water flowed into the public sewer. While we respond swiftly and responsibly when such safety issues occur, we work hard to prevent hazards happening in the first place. We actively engage with the public to alert them to potential dangers caused by waste. For example, in October 2019 Renewi attended a safety day at Naaldwijk in the Netherlands to highlight the hazards of batteries in waste, as well as cycling in the blind spots of waste collection trucks. Lithiumion batteries are found in hundreds of items, from toys to phones, and when damaged can combust and ignite waste around them. Our experts’ advice received a very positive response from visitors to the safety day. This objective is tracked by the headline metric below, with a target for 2025:
Community engagement projects (total number of projects annually). Target 180
Performance (over three years)
Although we managed to lower the average number of complaints per site down to 2.7, we didn’t achieve our 1.4 target. The main focus area was the amount of odour complaints received at some of our UK operational sites. We did see positive developments in this area, however – an improvement partly due to the relatively stable amount of complaints received in the other Divisions.
Conclusion and outlook
While we reduced the average number of complaints per site received last year compared to the previous year, we weren’t able to achieve our 2020 target. This is all the more reason to continue our efforts. By doing this, we want to increase our active engagement, which will improve our positive relations with our neighbours and positively impact our communities.