With a driving passion for sustainability, four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel wanted to find out more about what exactly happens to all the waste left behind by some 350,000-plus spectators after last Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Having already swapped his steering wheel for a waste sack on Sunday evening, when he joined Grace Grundon and a team of litter pickers; the following morning (19 July) Sebastian arrived at Grundon Waste Management’s Colnbrook operation to find out more.
Welcomed by Owen George, Group Development and Innovation Manager, and Anthony Foxlee-Brown, Head of Marketing and Communications, Sebastian was given an overview of the company’s waste management services before enjoying a tour of the facilities, including the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and the Lakeside Energy from Waste (EfW) operation.
Typically, by 11pm the night after a race day weekend, 90 per cent of Silverstone’s waste will have been collected by Grundon, and Sebastian was able to see how the waste is treated and, most importantly, how 100% diversion from landfill can be guaranteed.
Touring the MRF, the Grundon team was able to demonstrate how items such as plastic bottles, cans and other recyclable materials are segregated before being sent for recycling, recovery and/or reprocessing.
And then, amid soaring temperatures outside, Sebastian was able to take a peak through the viewing window at the Lakeside EfW facility, where materials that cannot be recycled are incinerated at high temperature to generate green electricity to go back into the National Grid.
Sebastian said: “Following the litter-picking activities at Silverstone, it was important for me to understand what happens to the litter during the next stage. That is why I visited Grundon in Slough, one of the UK’s largest Waste Management Facilities.
“This was an opportunity to see first-hand what happens to all the waste we produce. I learned more about the recycling processes for certain materials and was introduced to the incineration process for litter that cannot be recycled – an alternative to waste being buried in landfill sites.
“Collecting the litter taught me a few things and reminded me how important it is to reduce waste in general. We can all make small changes and do our bit, such as using a refillable bottle or buying products wrapped in compostable packaging rather than plastic. Recycling is certainly important but should be the last not the first resort.”
The Formula 1TM driver is on a mission to increase environmental awareness and, just prior to the British Grand Prix, he visited a primary school in Towcester, near the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula OneTM Team base, to talk to pupils about sustainability, answering questions and planting a tree, as well as donating reusable water bottles to all the children.
He is also an ambassador for the BioBienenApfel project, which creates new bee habitats, and earlier this summer joined pupils at a school near Austria’s Red Bull Ring circuit to build a bee hotel in the shape of a Formula 1TMracing car.
Anthony said: “Sebastian was incredibly engaged and keen to see how our waste operation worked. It was very important to him that the waste he had helped collect on Sunday was not going to landfill, and we were able to reassure him that recycling, reuse and reprocessing is always our priority.
“It is clear that he cares deeply about environmental issues and we were delighted to play a small part in helping him understand more about how the circular economy works in this country, and to share some of the innovations and ideas that Grundon is investing in to further improve sustainability within the waste sector.”
Grundon’s fleet of waste collection vehicles is already certified CarbonNeutral® and trials are due to begin shortly with a series of electric waste collection vehicles.
During Sebastian’s visit, the group discussed the pros and cons of alternative fuels and Vettel was able to take a first-hand look at Grundon’s ultra-low emission hydrogen diesel dual-fuel waste collection vehicle, which is currently servicing customers across London.
Grundon’s relationship with Silverstone goes back well over 20 years and the company currently has a multi-year contract to provide waste management services. Throughout that time, a key focus has been on increasing sustainability and recycling and, working closely with the Silverstone team, Grundon continues to provide advice and guidance on further ways to boost the venue’s environmental credentials.