Saving waste

F acilities managers are actually more concerned about the significance of demonstrating profits on return and managing available manpower than previously. Both topics took top spots for the very first time in the annual FM survey by Facilities Management Journal, conducted together with Grundon Waste Management. This underlines the known proven fact that the purse-strings have already been tightened in a post-pandemic world.

On the other hand, service delivery and compliance have dropped from the top two altogether for the very first time since the survey was initially completed in 2018. This season compliance nearly crept into third place, with significantly less than one in four respondents saying it had been important.

There is however, a large jump in the real amount of FMs who say they’re likely to produce environmental reports. For the last 3 years the real number has hovered round the halfway mark, however now over 80 % say they need to showcase their environmental success stories.

Waste and recycling has held onto its top spot with regards to being seen as the main of all environmental and sustainability responsibilities that FMs need to manage, but more of these see it as challenging (50.6 %) rather than a chance (37.5 %).

Nearly 300 FMs completed the 2021 survey, making the real number of respondents much like previous years.


Grundon’s Stephen Hill, Head of Sales, said: “This year’s results make interesting reading and mirror lots of the things we have been seeing with this own customers.

“FMs are increasingly being asked to provide greater improvements and ROI on tighter budgets, while at the same time needing to juggle changing means of working. It’s no real surprise they view it as more of challenging and I think most of us in the waste industry have to respond with innovative ideas and support. What’s very encouraging is that more FMs say their organisations expect an excellent waste management service helps you to save them money, with fewer saying it won’t change lives far.”

In 2019 and 2020, only around 24 % of respondents said there is an expectation that money could possibly be saved, but by 2021 this had risen to 33 % nearly. The number of individuals who recognised the chance to earn rebates on recycling and reprocessing jumped from 5.45 % and 3.19 % to over 10 %.

There is however, an elevated concern a good waste management service may cost more money.

“Considering that return on investment may be the number one concern at this time, it’s not unexpected that FMs will undoubtedly be worried that purchasing a good service will definitely cost them additional money,” continued Hill.

“By working closely with this customers and really learning their businesses, we’ve had the opportunity to make changes that deliver really. Which may be identifying more waste streams which have a value for recycling, or ensuring they’re actually only spending money on their waste rather than that of other businesses too. Delivered properly, an excellent waste management provider shall tick those boxes and can save money.”


Nearly two thirds of businesses – the best in the annals of the survey – will have a waste management strategy with clear targets, with only eight % saying they don’t have one.

With regards to barriers around improving waste and recycling performance, consistent with previous years an inability to activate staff with the necessity to recycle came in because the number one issue, though it only scored 28 % versus more than 50 % in 2018.

For the very first time however, insufficient senior management support/understanding of waste management issues featured in the very best three, with nearly 17 % saying it was one factor in improving performance now.

Employee education and engagement continues to be viewed as critical to success, receiving the best score. Demand for practical advice – such as how exactly to create a Green Team or Waste Champions – rose from significantly less than 10 % in previous years to 26 % in 2021, showing that FMs understand the worthiness that such activities may bring to an ongoing business.


When asked what issues they consider when coming up with decisions on managing their waste, FMs listed transparency because the true number 1 priority. They want to understand how their waste is treated and, secondly, the waste provider’s commitment to environment issues.

Traditionally, quality of service and the provider’s understanding of waste compliance and legislation regulations have already been placed top.

This marks a genuine change and seems to reflect the truth that compliance is slipping down the ‘must have’ list. It had been placed fourth, with service and quality in third place, while capability to receive waste analysis and statistics managed to get in to the top five for the very first time.

“What these email address details are telling us is that transparency and honesty in the manner their waste is treated is most significant in their mind,” said Hill.

“Needless to say compliance will be important and rightly so, but increased pressure on budgets is changing the emphasis. FMs desire to utilize a provider who is able to equip them with the data and information they have to demonstrate where money has been spent and what the returns are.

“They still have to protect their environmental reputation, but to some extent they are going back again to basics by requesting more practical help and suggestions to persuade employees and senior managers of the necessity to continue to spend money on good waste management.

“Needless to say they want an excellent and service guarantee, but alone this enough is not any longer. They need to start to see the results too also to understand that every opportunity has been taken to have them the very best ROI across almost all their different waste streams.

“It really is around all us showing how that may be delivered.”