Astra Zeneca Case Study

a rocket composter installed inside a metal building, the composter has the astra zeneca logo on it

Sector: Corporate sites and Facilities Management
Equipment: A900 Rocket Food Waste Composter

The backstory

Multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca, has a 100-acre manufacturing site located in Macclesfield, Cheshire. This location is used to manufacture, pack, and distribute medicines to 130 global markets.

However, the firm’s facilities management team needed some help in making the site’s food waste practices more sustainable, in order to be best-in-class for how it handles its food and green waste.

The challenge

The Cheshire-based premises needed a circular solution for the 24 tonnes of annual food and green waste being generated from its 100-acre estate – which can hold up to 4,000 employees on site at any one time.

This decision to close the food waste management loop at source formed part of the firm’s wider sustainability target to reduce waste and embrace a circular economy. And as part of this environmental commitment, the company is also aiming to achieve zero-carbon status, by 2025.

The tins needed another step – food waste would have to be collected at the table and then moved to the newly provided equipment.

Upon further investigation, because of the weight of food waste, only small collection bins could be used – meaning they would have to be changed frequently. With already limited space at the table and having to accommodate a staff member moving bins away too meant that the team couldn’t be as efficient as before.

They therefore needed a solution that would fit within their seamless operation – not one which required them to change it.

a rocket composter installed inside a metal building, the composter has the astra zeneca logo on it
a rocket composter installed inside a metal building, the composter has the astra zeneca logo on it
a picture of trees and landscaping at astra Zeneca
a picture of trees and landscaping at astra Zeneca

The solution

As one of AstraZeneca’s strategic partners – with responsibility for managing the delivery of the food service across the business – Sodexo was well placed to support AstraZeneca in solutioning this problem.

After researching the options, Tim Stevens, Sodexo’s catering operational lead, contacted us here at Tidy Planet to understand more about the commercial solutions we offer.

The Sodexo and AstraZeneca FM teams collectively reviewed the options, with the outcome being the purchase of an A900 Rocket Composter.

The introduction of the composter means that organic waste is now segregated in the restaurant kitchen, then fed into the on-site Rocket Composter – to create a nutrient-rich resource in just 14 days.

Prior to the investment, however, the team also connected with The University of Liverpool’s Guild of Students, to discuss the student union’s existing installation and composting operation – also supplied by Tidy Planet – to understand its suitability, and share learnings from their experience of installing their composter.

In addition, the prediction was that the AstraZeneca site would generate enough waste to fill two A900 Rocket Composters – should the full workforce resume to being on-site and not working from home – so the building and infrastructure were designed in a way that another one could be added at a later date.

As part of its environmental targets, AstraZeneca then partnered with Sodexo, to introduce compostable tableware to the site, to make sure its approach was a truly holistic one.

After receiving training from the Tidy Planet team, the partnership identified a ‘composter champion’ from within the catering team, to drive engagement and be able to articulate the sustainability benefits the new composter would bring, alongside training others in how to use the equipment.

The horticultural team now uses the resulting compost across the campus, and there is a proposal in place that it will also be used to grow fresh produce – further reducing food transportation miles and carbon emissions.

Current position

Fast-forward to 2022 and the site has been composting ‘Halo compostable coffee pods’, as well as helping with new types of compostable packaging trials. Furthermore, they are now implementing a waste stream, to capture more compostable waste across site.

Sodexo has championed the food waste solution across the business, including hosting a virtual composting demonstration for Microsoft (USA & UK) – a company that subsequently went on to implement its own composting plant in the UK too.

While this represented the first commercial-scale composter to be installed on an AstraZeneca site, this is a move the business hopes will help drive sustainability forward across its network, globally.

“Installing an on-site composter seemed like a great fit for us, as by recycling our food and green waste at source, we can create a closed loop model that reduces both wastage and our carbon footprint.

“We’ve also made sure that we have space for another machine – futureproofing the demands of the campus if our food waste levels increase.”

Guy Camm, FM development manager at AstraZeneca.