FMC Sustainability

Our Commitment to Sustainability

Is Trash Always Waste?

At the FMC Health and Nutrition site in Girvan, United Kingdom, staff saw an opportunity to significantly curtail the amount of site waste being sent to local landfills. Driven by the energy and ideas of the site’s EHS team, the resulting waste management system is an example of how a perceived area of improvement can become a sustained and beneficial program. As the system gains traction in Girvan, it may have the potential to be shared and deployed at other FMC sites globally.


Craig Fulton, a Girvan EHS team member, helped to lead the development of the site’s waste management system.

Like many projects at FMC, this one started with safety. Craig Fulton and David Mair began by working to further safeguard employees when disposing of waste, and the project evolved into one that has a significant impact on other aspects of sustainability. Girvan’s EHS team provided some background on how their idea and system came to fruition.

This project began as a safety improvement. Because safety is paramount to FMC, we realized during an evaluation in late 2013, that we had an opportunity to make our waste system more centralized, easier to use and therefore safer for our plant employees. We then realized that we had a significant opportunity to improve our waste stream organization on site and work with our waste management company to ensure that none of our wastes go to landfill. The EHS team, working closely with the site’s waste management partners, met to discuss improvements to our collection and disposal activities and how to ensure a deeper understanding of waste management across site staff.

How was the system initially developed and planned? Who was involved?

One of the collection receptacles placed at the site’s central waste management area. Each receptacle is fronted by high-visibility signage.

The EHS team looked at the waste receptacles, their locations and whether they were fit for specific purposes, and if the people using them actually understood what types of waste could be put in them. We realized very quickly that if we reduced the amount of receptacles around the site and replaced them with smaller, easier to manage, coloured plastic industrial bins understanding and safety would increase. Each receptacle now has specific signage with examples of the type of waste, improving clarity for all plant employees.

The EHS team also visited a waste recycling centre to get a better understanding of what happens to the waste at the transfer station, as well as what the final end usage of the waste is.

What is the objective/goal of the system?

At Girvan, we have the unique opportunity to send zero waste to landfill. Our goal is to ensure all waste generated at the Girvan site leaves via the correct waste streams, is compliant with all waste codes, and importantly, that no waste materials leaving the Girvan site end up in a landfill.

The safety and well being of our employees and contractors is top of mind as we provide skips and bins that are right-sized for their specific purpose. The waste collection station is in a centralised, well lit area. We are working closely with every department to ensure a deep understanding of waste streams and recycling of waste is attained.

As part of the ongoing waste management project we will be looking at additional compactors with colour coded internal bin systems for operations to reduce the frequency of the waste collection. This change may allow us to switch from weekly waste collection to monthly waste collection, thereby reducing waste management truck traffic and improving our carbon emissions.

What types of waste are collected through the system?

The waste collected at FMC Girvan includes: general waste, mixed recyclables, wood, glass, batteries, light bulbs, WEEE (waste electronic and electrical equipment), metal, hazardous waste, clothing/work wear, oil, documents for secure destruction, and dust from LEV system. Any other type of waste that is generated is collected through a special pick-up.

How has the system been received by site staff?

Feedback has been positive and favourable. Our staff has been very engaged in the project. The properly identified waste streams and centralised bins with lightweight lids have also been well received. For our future plans for colour coded waste bins and additional compaction capabilities, operational staff have come forward with good ideas and suggestions to move us forward.

Safety was a central concern in choosing the location and layout of the site’s central waste management

Safety was a central concern in choosing the location and layout of the site’s central waste management

How are the different wastes collected and handled?

Mixed recycling covers 100% recycled materials, including paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and other materials.

General waste is passed over by a picking line and any recyclable materials recovered.

The dust collected by the ventilation system is suitable for composting and is mixed in batches with other materials including food waste and green waste. This process is certified as PAS100 under the British standard for composting.

The material that is not recyclable goes to Refuge Derived Fuel (RDF) to avoid landfill.

With the RDF process, we are now at 100% landfill avoidance.