Meet Mel Weyems, Virgin Stars of The Year Award winner

Name: Mel Weyems
Company: Virgin Atlantic

Role:Contracts Manager

Length of working: Joined VAA in 1990 but have been doing this role since 2008

Loves: Body Combat Classes

Hates: Inefficiency

Recommends: Butternut squash soup with crusty bread!

What do you do at Virgin Atlantic?

I manage the day to day running of many contracts for all Virgin Atlantic properties from Crawley to Swansea and anything in between.These include the cleaning, catering, landscaping, waste, fire safety, fitness centre, pest control to name buta few!

Congratulations for winning the Special Award for the Environment at this years Virgin Star of The Year Awards. Were you surprised to be nominated?

Yes very honoured.

What were some of the things you did which helped you to win the award?

In 2010 I introduced the less to landfill campaign throughout at Head Office and Training facility. This basically means we can capture more mixed recycling in one bin making it easier for our staff to do their bit for the environment. At the same time we halved the size of the landfill bin sending a clear message to the staff less to landfill. We have also removed disposable products from the staff restaurants and have instead provided re-useable items.

Who at Virgin Atlantic helped you along the way?

Our staff embraced this change and results were seen very quickly.I have had a lot of help from Izak who is the housekeeping supervisor and he has helped me monitor the changes as they were rolled out through the buildings.

Which change are you most proud of?

The Less to Landfill campaign as we now recycle in the region of 74% of our waste from our head office (based on figures up to September 2011). We also recycle food waste from 3 of our properties we encourage our staff to recycle any food and this goes on to generate energy. Up to August this year we recycled 16,995 tonnes of food waste and this generated 84,975 megawatt hours of renewable energy.

What was the reaction when you first started making changes?

Actually very positive! I introduced a competition to run between areas at the same time to try and get some healthy competitive spirit into making it happen. I then awarded prizes to the best performing areas.

Have there been any hurdles and how have you overcome them?

Finding the right way to communicate to people who cant see the benefits of recycling and the bigger picture.

Why is sustainability important to you?

I have two children and I believe we need to look after our planet for future generations to enjoy!

What is your next big idea for Virgin Atlantic?

I think it would be great to utilize the energy from our staff pounding the treadmills and cycles in the onsite fitness centre and re-use that power somewhere in the building!

Related article: Who's the shining star of sustainability?

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