Sustainability - Waste at Westonbirt

A wicker fence encases the recycling and waste bins for Westonbirt Arboretum

In 2021, we worked with Avieco, the sustainability consultants to audit our waste; we looked at how much we were generating, what it was, the level of contamination and where it was going. This resulted in a waste strategy to increase recycling and reduce general waste. 

The first steps on this strategy were to:

  • find a new new waste and recycling collection company - we know work with Smiths Waste Management - complete. 
  • achieve more recycling options available on site, behind the scenes - complete.
  • Add more recycling bins for visitors- in progress
  • Make sure coffee grounds were collected as food waste not general waste - they are also available for visitors to take home for free - complete.
  • Reduce paper towels - we now have Dyson hand dryers in staff toilets - complete. 
  • Eliminate condiment sachets and single use plastics - on progress
  • Continue to monitor and research more sustainable purchases and being aware of end of life of product (where does it go when we are finished with it). 
Upside down green triangle showing all the stages of the waste hierarchy

Using the Waste Heierarchy Tool, the first step is to 'Prevent Waste'. 

We are raising awareness with staff of more sustainable purchasing choices, sustainable products and to decided whether purchases are needed. 


Did you know that non-recyclables in a recyclables bin can contaminate the whole bin load. 

Please don't wish recycle - if in doubt, leave it out, or take it home?

We are reducing our waste in many ways:

  • Encouraging visitors, volunteers and staff to refuse cutlery and napkins if not needed and working with our catering providers to not offer it out unless requested. 
  • Introduced a bag charge in the shop and pizza box charge for takeaway food on site.
  • Our learning programme is now plastic free! 
  • Trialled the removal of Christmas tree netting when re-wrapping Christmas trees. 
  • We stopping using mix-material, eg our plastic seasonal boards. We used to have 40 boards each seasons, but these are no longer created - and staff have changed to recyclable alternatives for new boards. 
  • We encourage our staff not to laminate and source other eco-friendly options. 
Two young children interacting with a Gruffalo activity in a forest

You can now get 30p off your hot drink at The Pantry, when you bring your own reusable cup from home!

a small tree planted in grass surrounded by protective netting


  • Bring your own coffee cup - you'll get 30p off!
  • Coffee grounds are given away to staff and visitors.
  • The smokehouse use pizza tins rather than cardboard boxes for people who are staying in to eat. 
  • Sourced reusable black plastic tree netting for our young trees.
  • Picked out and resold our surplus furniture.
  • We reuse our plant pots for propagation. 
  • Encouraging staff to reuse surplus materials before recycling. 


  • We have a number of recycling streams, including food waste and glass. 
  • All our food waste is collected for anaerobic digestion and the creation of bio-methane with GENeco in Avonmouth. 
  • We have ad hoc recycling of unusual items, e.g signage. 
  • We are working hard to find recyclable single use cups for visitors to enjoy their coffee. We are now working with the Eco Coffee Company with their recyclable and compostable cups and lids. These need to go in a separate bin in order to be recycled effectively which is in progress.
  • We are also look at recyclable food packaging - currently our packaging is  
  • We have selective terracycle recycling scheme for staff offices. 
  • We have sourced a company who recycle our hard hats into pellets and we are looking into PPE recycling. 
  • Our reusable black plastic tree netting for our young trees is collected specifically to be recycled. 
  • Working with Seacourt and their recycling scheme on our marketing and event banners. Banners have been changed from PVC (considered a toxic product) to fabric or another recyclable material.
A cup of coffee at a picnic table

Did you know, compostable is not the same as biodegradable? Being biodegradable does not mean that the product is compostable as biodegradable products may take a lot longer to decompose. The waste left at the end may not be beneficial to the composted soil due to microplastics.

There is also different types of compostable - home vs industrial composting. There are actually very few industrial facilities.

A wooden structure shaped like an armadillo shell made from long wooden laths and wooden shingles to create a Community Shelter


  • We used old metal signage used to create building materials/roof materials for our community shelter! 
  • Our family activities crafts are all natural.  


When we throw anything into the general waste here at Westonbirt, Bristol Waste pick it up and take it to their plant. They then sort the waste to check we haven't missed any recyclable materials and recycle them accordingly. The rest is then sent to  to generate electricity.

We recycle as much as we can and as a last resort, we will send items for disposal. This is our final stop and we are trying to prevent, reduce, reuse, recycle and recover first, to make sure the disposal is a minimal as possible and we can achieve Zero Waste (zero to landfill). 

  • changed our waste provider so it is now taken locally to Smiths Waste and Recycling Depot where they segregate items and then it is collected and taken to Energy from Waste to generate electricity and recycling is sorted and taken to larger facility.
  • Some items pose a challenge for us including contaminated recycling, tissues and dog poo - so help us where you can!

Plastic bottles
Photo credit: Paul Box

Our aims for the future

A graphic of a timeline for waste and recycling recommendations for Westonbirt
Forestry England