Waste management and recycling at ICA Supermarket Olskroken in Gothenburg, Sweden, is a natural part of the day-to-day work of the store’s 60 members of staff. Every day, goods are delivered packaged in boxes. This is all waste that has to be taken care of. Having machines compacting the waste instead of doing it manually saves time, money, and space.

The ICA store in Gothenburg handles and recycles approximately 140 ton of cardboard per year, which accounts for around 80 percent of all its waste management. In the long run, it would have been unsustainable for the staff to manually handle all the waste, which would have resulted in used packaging material taking up a lot of space both at the loading bay and inside the warehouse. ICA Supermarket has invested in a briquette press that compacts corrugated cardboard into briquettes, which are then recycled. Johan Ekenberg, tells us more:

“From a practical standpoint, it would never have worked without waste compaction equipment. We simply had to find a way to streamline and improve our disposal of corrugated cardboard waste.”

Large volumes of cardboard are turned into briquettes, saving time and space

Orwak’s Brickman 300 briquette press was chosen for the job. It is capable of turning large amounts of waste into small solid briquettes for recycling. This minimizes waste volume and the machine can be fed while it is running. The advantage of a briquette press compared to a baler is that the briquettes do not require any strapping.

The staff disposes of cardboard on a daily basis and the location of the recycling station is important to ensure its optimal use. At ICA Olskroken, the briquette press is located at the loading bay, where goods are received and where the waste is then emptied and stored in containers. Thanks to its compact design and low noise level, Brickman can be located indoors near the source of waste. Mr Ekenberg continues:

“As we handle very large volumes in a small space, the cardboard must be compacted. Our compact briquette press suits us really well, as we have such little space where we handle the waste.”

Efficiency that saves money and is environmentally friendly

The investment has resulted in more efficient waste management, which cuts down on storage space as well as staff working hours. In addition, the store is remunerated for its waste.

“We pay a fee to the waste collection company that collects the waste for recycling, but are then paid for the briquettes. In one year, I would say that the total transport cost is covered by what we receive from our recycling. You could say it’s a zero-sum game as we don’t have to pay for our waste collection,” Mr Ekenberg concludes.

ICA Olskroken works according to the ICA environmental store concept. To be approved as an ICA environmental store, the store must meet certain requirements, which include waste management and recycling. Additionally, there are requirements relating to efficient energy consumption, the provision of a wide range of environmentally friendly products, the avoidance of unnecessary chemicals, and so on.

All waste produced by the stores is sorted and recycled as far as possible. One example is the plastic around pallets and boxes. The store collects the plastic and sends it back in the ICA delivery truck. Eventually, the plastic will come back to the store in the form of plastic bags. The ability to recycle packaging efficiently is considered important at ICA Olskroken:

“We’re committed to a variety of criteria to achieve our environmental goals. Waste management is one of these criteria so recycling is an important part of our work.”

Johan Ekenberg ends the interview by emphasizing that the briquette press was the compaction solution that best suited the waste streams and capacity requirements in his store, but that there are many solutions to choose from:

“My recommendation is that retailers, whose staff need to handle large amounts of cardboard in the store, should first evaluate their own situation and terms and then find a solution that fits their store’s individual needs.”