Dobbies is one of the largest garden centre retail groups in the UK. With a well-established history dating back to 1865, Dobbies boast 34 stores across Scotland, England and Northern Ireland, all of which now employ SWR to manage the multiple waste streams at each site.

The issues

Prior to engaging with SWR in 2011, Dobbies wanted to improve the efficiency of their waste management and recycling provisions. The main things they wanted to work on were:


Administration and supplier relationships

Dobbies had over twenty different contractors managing their varied waste streams across multiple sites, which meant the invoicing process was complex. They received varying levels of service from the different contractors which created a lack of consistency between sites.



Dobbies is more than a traditional garden centre; it has onsite restaurants and pet centres, producing complex waste streams. Dobbies team were concerned that this waste was not being disposed of as effectively as possible – they wanted to increase the levels of on-site segregation and recycling across all of their stores. For a business operating in such an environmentally conscious industry, this was very important to them.


SWR’s Solution


At the start of the contract, SWR carried out an in depth analysis of Dobbies stores to ascertain the types of waste, quantities, and where it was going. SWR then developed an optimised, cost effective system to increase recycling and simplify the waste management process.


Consolidated service

Dobbies now has to communicate with just one company, SWR, for all waste issues, meaning a great working relationship has developed between the two companies.


Invoicing and cost control

The SWR model uses a fee agreement to reduce cost fluctuations. A straightforward invoicing system is greatly appreciated by Dobbies staff, and the system ensures complete cost transparency, essential for every business.


Waste segregation at source

SWR identified that segregation could be improved by supplying sites with suitable containers and clear staff communication.


Monitoring recycling progress

SWR provide Dobbies with regular waste reports to monitor progress towards recycling targets and identify where further improvements can be made.


WEEE cages

As a retailer of electronic items Dobbies is legally obliged to provide a ‘take back’ service for customers to return WEEE items to the store and then arrange safe disposal. SWR has installed lockable storage cages at each site with specialist collections.


Food waste collections

The phenomenal growth in the popularity of Dobbies’ restaurants has increased the volume of food waste produced by stores. Food waste is heavy and introducing food waste segregation processes and collections has avoided overweight charges.

The results


  • 2015 Annual on-site segregation levels = 66% After changes to TEEP regulations in Jan 2015 hard plastic plant trays are now considered as general waste and are segregated off-site.
  • 2015 Annual total diverted from landfill = 94%; which has steadily increased from 91% in 2014 and 83% in 2013
  • Food waste segregation introduced at selected sites and extension to additional stores planned.


Download PDF version