Sustainability at Spitalfields

At Spitalfields we have long been committed to minimising the impact we make on the environment. Since 2005 we have been recycling the waste produced by our tenants – the shops, eateries and market traders – which accounts for the majority of the waste produced in the Spitalfields Estate.

Zero Waste Sent to Landfill

A big thank you to all our tenants and visitors to Spitalfields. With your help we have been able to recycle 95% of all waste produced on the Estate in August 2012. The remaining 5% has been turned into Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). RDF is used in a variety of ways to produce electricity and can be used alongside traditional sources of fuel in coal power plants.

So far this year we've recycled 89% of waste on the Estate with the remaining 11% coverted in to RDF. As a result, we are very pleased to report that zero waste has gone to landfill.

Types of Waste Recycled at Spitalfields

Using Less Energy than Last Year

We’ve reduced energy consumption dramatically in 2012 through various methods including replacing lighting with energy efficient lamps and reducing equipment running times.

As a result, we’re on target for producing less than 14,000 kg of CO2 on average each month.

CO2 Produced

Using Less Water than Last Year

With the aid of a new water usage monitoring system, Spitalfields cleaning team are able to constantly review cleaning methods and equipment to ensure that water consumption is kept to a minimum. The first half of 2012 showed a significant reduction in water usage from 2011 and these reductions have continued into the latter half of the year.

Water Consumption

Commitment to Sustainability

Here’s a summary of some of the ways we recycle and reduce waste at Spitalfields.

  • Recycle waste produced by the shops, restaurants and market traders
  • Recycling bins for waste produced by visitors
  • Recycle food waste using Autothermal Thermophilic Aerobic Digestion
  • Reduce pollution and energy use through coordinated and efficient deliveries
  • Use of energy saving bulbs, timers and dedicated lighting to reduce energy usage
  • Reduce the water used in cleaning the estate through more efficient processes and practices
  • Attracting wildlife with the organic garden
  • Providing an opportunity for local children to learn about the environment by growing plants and vegetables from seed

Recycling Bins

Re-cycling bins in Spitalfields allow visitors to re-cycle on the go. The investment has been jointly funded by the Spitalfields Estate and Coca-Cola Enterprises who are working with Recoup, the UK’s leading authority on plastics waste management, to boost re-cycling of drink cans and bottles by making it easier and more convenient.

Food Waste Recycled into Compost

Food waste from Spitalfields is turned in to compost in a process called ‘Autothermal Thermophilic Aerobic Digestion’ (ATDT). State-of-the-art digestion vessels pasteurize our food waste and turn it into nutrient-rich fertilizer that’s being ploughed back into the soil to grow more food in just 72 hours.

Improving Deliveries to Cut Waste

The Spitalfields Estate has six restaurants which receive many deliveries each day. Noticing that excessive or prolonged deliveries meant delivery vehicles were running engines and cooling equipment unnecessarily, the Spitalfields management team monitored deliveries to find out which restaurants were being delivered to by which companies.

What we found was that many of the delivery companies were delivering more than one restaurant but at different times during any given day and that deliveries were delayed due to poor organisation.

We held discussions with the restaurant managers, neighbouring businesses and the main suppliers and organised delivery schedules to coincide with each other. As a result, we have been able to reduce the amount of vehicles delivering to site.

In addition, our security officers now instruct all vehicles to switch off engines and where possible, the cooling equipment while on site and a phone system has been installed so delivery drivers can easily and quickly notify the restaurants that their supplies have arrived. These two actions have dramatically cut waste and pollution from engine and cooling systems running while improving the efficiency of the delivery process. This has also reduced noise pollution and traffic congestion.

Reducing Energy Used for Lighting

The 40w bulbs lighting the Spitalfields Traders Market have been with low energy bulbs and timers have been fitted so that the lights are switched off when the market is empty. We have also reduced the amount of lighting we use during the dark winter months. Rather than leaving all the lights on in the market we are adding low energy lighting for specific areas where the lighting is poor. This will replace the need for the market lighting and reduce the energy consumption for the area.

Cutting Water Consumption

Our cleaning contractor, Office & General, is fully involved with all of our environmental based initiatives and many of our initiatives have been suggested by our cleaning manager. As we carry out scrubber a jet washing of our public space, we are conscious of our water consumption. Following a recent review we have been able to reduce water consumption even further by introducing new technologies that use high speed brushes and suction to give excellent performance on pavement cleaning. This allows us to reduce the use of jet washing to a minimum and to reduce the water consumption in our cleaning regime overall.

Organic Garden

The Spitalfields organic vegetable and herb garden, situated in the landscaped section of Bishops Square, is an ongoing environmental project taking place on the Spitalfields Estate. The plants, which are all grown from seed, are planted and nurtured by Paul Pulford from the local Spitalfields City Farm. Once harvested the vegetables are distributed to local residents and visitors to the Estate.

The organic garden has proved popular with local residents and wildlife alike attracting a wide variety of birds. So much so that a bird feeder modelled from the felled branches of a tree in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is due to be installed to provide them with a place to feed, drink and bathe undisturbed.

Paul worked on the design and construction of the Eden Project’s Places of Change garden, which won a Silver Medal in the 2010 Chelsea Flower Show. Continuing his work within the community, Paul is currently developing a project that will engage local school children in tending the Spitalfields organic garden. This will see the expansion of the organic gardens footprint across the landscaped areas in Bishops Square. Pupils will be taught how to plant and nurture the gardens as well as the impact organic green spaces can have on their local environment and wildlife.

Did You Know?

The Allen & Overy building in Spitalfields incorporates a substantial photovoltaic (solar panel) installation which generates enough electricity each year to light an average three-bed house for 90 years and saves over 30 tonnes of CO2 emissions.