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Strategic partnership with sector leading retailer

Case study // Close partnership furnishes Sofology with recycling success


With a mission to help everyone feel happier and more comfortable at home on a sofa they love, Sofology pride themselves on focusing on the little things that matter the most to their customers. Whilst this may start with the right sofa style, it doesn’t end there, according to their ESG strategy which states it’s their ‘business to make a difference’.

In line with this strategy, the specialist sofa retailer has been reviewing the management of packaging waste. A strong partnership with Biffa has meant even the smallest changes have produced fast results and made a big impact on both driving down costs and diverting waste from landfill.

“Consolidating our waste services to Biffa as a single supplier at the start of the year gave us the opportunity to improve recycling and recovery from our six depots and do much more than previously to divert our waste from landfill,” said Sofology Health & Safety Manager Paul James.

He took on the waste management role in January just as Biffa came on board, although he’s been with the company for 12 years.

Thinking outside the box

“Previously our waste was managed piecemeal – some services were managed through our provider and other efforts included plastic and cardboard recovery through a third party. Our 42 stores generate a small amount of our waste, while the majority is plastic, cardboard, paper, wood and polystyrene packaging protecting our deliveries to our stores and to customers. All of it is backhauled to our six depots that have general waste compactors on site. While we were doing some recycling, it was minimal. In 2018 we brought 941 tonnes of packaging into the business. Of that, for three of our depots, we recovered 9% for the whole year.

“In an ideal world it would be fantastic to aim for total landfill diversion, but the nature of the business means our products will always need protective packaging. We charged Biffa with helping us to save £150,000 this year that includes any value recovery from commodities,” Paul added.

“Biffa came on-board at the perfect time as we had just embarked on a journey with a new steering group for our Environmental Social Governance committee. Working with them has allowed us to turn everything on its head – and what a difference they’ve made,” said Paul who was impressed by how quickly Biffa Corporate Account Director Julia Turnbull went to work and produced results.

Recycling Centre Sofology

Improved compliance, recycling and revenue

“Julia performed a full audit at each of the depots; improving compliance for Hazardous Waste with new services; helping us implement segregation of plastic and cardboard which is now put through the company’s balers; and improving the rate we get for selling the commodities.

“We trialled the segregation at our Golborne Head Office, where two skips full of general waste were being compacted and collected every week. We dedicated three colleagues to the task, who really got behind the challenge of segregating the recyclables for baling, and within a week we had halved the number of skip changeovers and reduced the associated transport and landfill costs, and environmental impact. That’s now been rolled out to all the depots but there’s still plenty to do,” said Paul.

Last year, commodities revenue for all depots for the entire year was £6,565. From March to mid-July, Biffa helped Sofology divert 164.1 tonnes from landfill and received revenue of £12,476.

Biffa and Sofology Employee 

Close collaboration

“Biffa really is part of the Sofology team. It’s so helpful having Julia as my eyes and ears. She’s incredibly proactive, nothing gets ignored and we have regular reviews to see what we can target and what they can help with.

“As a result of this relationship and Biffa’s expertise we can now also recycle more types of plastic than before. We’re exploring reusable packaging options and, in line with the National Waste and Resource Strategy, Julia’s investigating solutions for removal of single-use plastic items like the thousands of travel feet we use annually that we’ll soon be recycling. We’re providing glasses at our depots and stores to eliminate single-use cups at water cooler stations and investing in reusable stainless-steel water bottles for all Sofologists too.

“Most importantly, we’re already well on track to make the savings I asked for. While everyone wants to do everything they can to protect the environment I’d tell other businesses not to be afraid of making money off the back of that as there’s going to either be a revenue stream from it or a cost saving – and every little bit counts.”

Recommendations and rewards

Julia added: “It’s been refreshing for me to work with Paul. Our partnership goes beyond the waste services we provide on site and is much more consultative. I highlight every opportunity I see in stores, distribution centres and the Head Office that Paul might be able to act on and we then work on a joint solution.

“I’ve been allowed to use my 21 years of cross-sector expertise to go into the sites and build relationships, which consequently allows me to present opportunities and make recommendations. Paul’s a decision-maker. He’s prepared to work with me on my recommendations and trial solutions, often within a matter of days, so it’s rewarding for me to see my advice being taken on board and the client reaping the benefits, so quickly.

“I’m really enjoying working with Sofology and looking forward to investigating closed loop opportunities with Paul and his colleagues.”


Martin Nobes - Head of New Business

Martin Nobes

New Business Enquiries - if you're interested in how Biffa can help support you with strategic sustainable solutions contact Martin by emailing

0 164.1

Tonnes diverted from Landfill for Sofology


up in Commodities Revenue in 5 months