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Case Study – Frosts Garden Centres



Frosts Garden Centres is an award winning, family owned group of garden centres, which over the past 74 years has grown to be a highly respected brand with a loyal customer base, with  sites at Woburn Sands, Brampton, Willington and Millets Farm in the South of England.

The four garden centres create a large amount of mixed waste, including wood waste, inert waste, green waste and plastic pots and trays. Warehousing at each site produces a range of materials and space at each site is varied.

In the garden centres are busy restaurants which are hired for private events, producing a regular volume of waste materials and peak event volumes too.


The customer had received a waste management service from a major player for some years. Over time, they had received no improvement ideas and were subjected to generalised annual price increases.

The restaurant teams were keen to find a way to segregate and recycle their food waste. Each site operates a very busy restaurant with limited space for extra bins.

The garden centres sell and dispose of a great deal of plastic pots and trays – all either polypropylene or polystyrene. These were either left for customers to dispose of or for the sites to place in the general waste bins. The organisation historically recycled less than 20% of its waste stream.

This presented a complex waste management requirement. NRC was asked to review this solution with a view to improving efficiency and reducing costs.


The NRC approach offers customers a deep analysis of their current arrangements using audit and invoice data to develop a range of scenarios to model potential improvements.

NRC set out to maximise recycling of all recyclable waste streams and through this process, reduce costs where possible.

NRC completed a full and detailed audit of each site’s requirements and their existing incumbent charges and presented the findings to the Directors.

In summary NRC found the following:

  • Inconsistent approach to separating waste across all centres
  • Recyclable materials regularly ending up in the general waste stream
  • Over charging
  • Several different suppliers utilised across the group
  • Lack of improvements or engagement from the existing supplier
  • No opportunities to implement new systems to improve value and efficiency

NRC recommended and implemented a “blueprint’ solution across the Frosts Garden Centres Group to reduce general waste, increase recycling and to introduce new equipment to improve operating efficiency and better materials value. The solution achieved an increase in recycling of over 300% and a reduction in costs of circa 20%. Recycling now stands at 64% – an increase of 44%.

Frosts Garden Centres Restaurants

Waste management requirement: general waste, mixed recycling, food and glass.

Solution: Each restaurant now has internal containers for preparation food waste and clean down food waste, enabling NRC to collect sorted food waste and to send it away for recycling and energy recovery at anaerobic digestion plants.

Glass is segregated into allocated bins in the clean down area and sent for crushing and re-processing into new products.

Mixed recycling is taken to MRF’s (materials recovery facility) where the valuable material is extracted, bailed and sent for reprocessing.

General waste is sent to waste to energy plants and converted into electricity.

Garden Centres

Waste management requirement: general waste, mixed recycling, wood waste, inert waste, metal waste, green waste, cardboard, pallets, film and plastic pots and trays.

Solution: NRC recommended that all main sites had new equipment installed to reduce man hours for loading balers and producing mill sized bales for onward trading. The change has ensured that all sites now recycle card, film and pots and trays, receiving the best possible rebates from the market.

NRC and its Members found outlets for the pots and trays however they required them to be separated into the 2 different plastic grades. NRC worked with Frosts to define a system whereby the grades would be segregated at each site and the customers were offered a return service for their purchased pots and trays.

During the audits, NRC identified all the waste streams and their volumes and proposed a standard, blueprint solution for all sites, designed to maximise segregation, increase recycling and reduce general waste.

The blueprint required a range of skips for the following materials;

Wood – recovered as a biofuel

Metal – recycled

Inert – recycled into aggregates and topsoil’s

Green – composted

Materials not fitting into these grades are then classed as either mixed recycling or general waste. The most cost effective and appropriate collection solution was then implemented to deal with 11 different identified waste streams. By implementing this solution, NRC have significantly increased the level of recycling achieved by all the sites which reduced the volume of general waste and reduced costs across all sites.

During the analysis process NRC discovered the following for the Groups main site:

It was being overcharged by £16,000 by its former supplier and were locked in for 9 months.

The customer requested a short term of additional collections over the busy Christmas period. The contractor required a new duty of care transfer to be signed which, unknown to the customer, combined the Duty of Care and Service Agreement in the same document. Locking in an unrequired additional collection for nearly a year.

The contractor collected wheeled bins and charged for all containers whether they were full or not. The contractor then calculated the weight of the containers they emptied. When those containers were above the maximum weight, they charged all the containers the overweight charge – effectively charging twice.

NRC took the back-up data and proved that the customer was due overweight credits of over £6,000. Unfortunately, the contractor refused to amend the services to the post-Christmas requirement, therefore charging the customer for servicing unused containers – at 100% profit.

NRC’s experience in the industry enables them to identify issues such as these and to challenge the poor practices of some operators.

NRC reviewed the wheeled bin solution and recommended a compactor solution. This solution offers the flexibility the customer needs to deal with the peaks and troughs of waste output and also helped to save them over 50% across all their services.


NRC now manages all waste streams from all four sites, providing a single point of contact. NRC continues to monitor the performance of the sites and look for new waste streams to streamline and manage costs such as pallets and feminine hygiene, batteries and point of sale materials.

The centralisation of invoicing and reporting has enabled the Frosts management team to track and measure site costs more easily and to identify over expenditure each month.

Service delivery is now consistent, allowing the site teams to focus on their day to day roles. The system implemented is flexible and aligns with the peaks and troughs of the garden centre market.

General waste has been reduced and recycling now stands at 64%. 443 tonnes of materials recycled, including 6 tonnes of pots and trays. The residual waste all goes to be turned into fuel – meaning that the Frosts Group has achieved zero waste to landfill status.

NRC completes regular reviews and site visits – NRC now only looks for new ways to improve the system as well as ways in which to reinforce existing good behaviours or areas to improve.

The customer says that this is the best solution they have ever had.

For more information about NRC’s services and expertise, contact NRC on or 0845 299 6292.