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23rd February 2017

SWR: the story so far… 2007 – 2017 10th Anniversary

SWR's 10th AnniversaryCast your mind back to the beginning of June 2007… Tony Blair was prime minister, Apple were just about to release the first iPhone, ‘Umbrella’ by Rhianna was being played everywhere, it was the start of the UK’s wettest summer since records began and few people had ever given Northern Rock a second thought…


In a small yard in Guildford a waste recycling business called Specialist Waste Recycling opened its doors and since that day has grown year on year to become one of the largest waste management broking companies in the UK.


SWR was founded entirely around the waste needs of the motor trade and during the first few years focussed on providing recycling and resource management services to bodyshops and workshops across the UK. Success was achieved quickly for such a new player in the industry and long-lasting relationships began with Arnold Clark, Vertu Motors, Inchcape and Nationwide Accident Repair Services (NARS). By 2013 SWR’s Motor Division operated 13 trucks from 6 depots collecting cardboard, bumpers, soft plastics, scrap metal and used batteries.


Alongside the motor customer base SWR diversified and established itself in several key areas. SWR’s core ethos has always been to understand a client’s business waste needs and implement solutions which solve their problems; typically, achieving more sustainable results through increased recycling. This approach was, and still is, transferrable across sectors; early key customers included Brewers & Sons who began working with SWR in 2009, MacDonald Hotels in 2010 followed by Edinburgh Airport in 2011.


Spirit Pub group became an SWR customer in 2013 and signalled the beginning of a push into the hospitality sector. By the end of 2015 SWR was building a solid reputation in the sector through working with; WRAP, the British Hospitality Association and the Sustainable Restaurant Association, whilst national waste partnerships were in place with Carluccio’s, PizzaExpress and the Azzurri Group (Zizzi and Ask restaurants).  By the end of 2016, following the rollout of services to Greene King pubs and Prezzo restaurants, SWR was managing 175,000 bin collections every month. Introducing food waste collections to the day-to-day operations of these high street brands was a key service differentiator.


In parallel with SWR’s growing hospitality customer base the Anaerobic Digestion sector was developing. The increase in AD plants operating across the UK, combined with legislation changes in Scotland, created a strong market for food waste to be used as feedstock. RUR3 Environmental, a small consultancy, had found a niche delivering feedstock management and procurement services to this emerging industry. Early in 2015 SWR acquired RUR3 Environmental as there was a clear opportunity for the two businesses to strengthen each other.


Unfortunately, the downward spiral in commodity values over several years put significant pressure on the operational side of the motor business and in 2016 SWR sadly closed the last depot in Alton. However, by this point SWR was established as one of the UK’s largest waste management brokers with a solid network of supplier partners.


The transition from a ‘wheels-based’ operational business to a waste contract management model was underpinned by the focus on delivering ‘Best in Class’ customer experience with a large, highly skilled team. At the same time SWR introduced an extended range of essential business services, designed to make it easier for customers to consolidate the number of suppliers they work with.


Throughout 2017 SWR will be extending the availability of its services to independent businesses around the country through the expansion of the inbound sales team, whilst also providing services to even more blue chip companies and organisations across the UK.


Over the first decade SWR’s turnover has grown steadily from £750k in 2007 to over £30m in 2017. This sustained growth has earned the business a place in waste industry’s ‘Fast 50’ list, published by CIWM, every year since 2011. As well as financial success SWR is proud to have been included in the London Stock Exchange 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – an accolade that only 40 companies in the UK can claim.


A number of events and activities are planned to celebrate SWR’s 10th anniversary, look out for more details.