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A question of waste

The second joint survey by FMJ and Grundon Waste Management on how FMs approach waste management and recycling reveals a shift in priorities from compliance to positive sustainability outcomes

When FMJ and Grundon Waste Management first agreed to carry out a survey in 2018, the intention was to focus the questions purely on the topic of waste management and recycling. However, it soon became apparent that a more wide-ranging survey on how this topic sits within the broader sustainability remit of the modern facilities professional was more pertinent. We therefore added questions that include the role of a facilities manager, compliance and environmental reporting duties, and ways of devising waste management strategies.

The survey presents views from a range of sources, including FMs, FM product and service providers, and other stakeholders. We’ve also included views from members of the FMJ editorial steering committee on some of the more surprising results of the survey.

What type of organisation do you work for?

In-house facilities management




Facilities management service provider




Facilities management product supplier


Facilities management service supplier



What is the size of your organisation?

5,000+ people


1,000 to 4,999 people


500 to 999 people


100 to 499 people


1 to 99 people



Do you actively manage facilities on one or multiple sites?

One site


Multiple sites



Over 94 per cent of survey respondents said there is a growing emphasis on their business’ sustainability and environmental credentials within their day-to-day role, but there has been a shift in priorities.

In 2018, our survey found that over 80 per cent of respondents believed compliance was the most important aspect of their role, narrowly ahead of service delivery. In 2019, the results have changed – nearly three-quarters (72.48 per cent) said they now saw service delivery as the most important aspect of their role, with just over 56 per cent believing compliance was the top priority.

What do you see as the most important aspects of a facilities manager’s role?





Service delivery


Service delivery



Contribution to organisation’s/client’s environmental targets

Contribution to organisation’s/client’s environmental targets


Why are facilities management professionals prioritising service delivery ahead of meeting compliance requirements? Does this pose a risk to their organisations? We asked members of the steering committee to provide some insight.

Alan Hutchinson was surprised by the results. “Compliance ought to be the first and foremost objective for any FM professional, and how we deliver compliance would be the service delivery.” Ian Wade commented that “facilities managers are increasingly widening their remit and are being asked to add value, particularly around workplace wellbeing and sustainable accountability. It may well be perceived by leaders that compliance is a given, and as a restrictive area where innovation doesn’t exactly flourish.”

Vicky Thorpe suggested that the role of new technology may have contributed to this change: “It simply means the use of tools such as CAFM systems have helped managers adapt and able to prioritise in other areas.” The change in contractor relationships also helps to ensure that FMs stay compliant, she said. “The partnership approach ensures that compliancy is not just one individual’s responsibility, and by working as a team there may be a spread of focus – but no reduction.”

About Sarah OBeirne

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