Businesses can help their bottom line, and their public image, by improving the way in which they manage waste and recycling.
The process of sending waste to landfill harms the environment and is not a solution that can continue far into the future. Doing nothing to improve your company’s waste management is also not financially or ethically viable.
When considering what’s happening in the world of waste plastics, it’s possible to demonstrate how introducing your own company strategy for good waste management can benefit businesses as well as create a sustainable supply chain.
An EU target has been set to send zero plastic waste to landfill by 2020.
Whilst recycling and the recovery of plastics have followed a positive trend in the last five years, the total amount of post-consumer plastics waste has actually increased. It’s evident from this that in order to meet the 2020 target businesses need to look at producing less waste and using fewer resources.
With petroleum being one of the raw materials needed to produce plastics and oil reserves becoming depleted, prices continue to increase. Being more efficient and using fewer raw materials would save your business money and significantly help the environment.
Businesses making use of increasingly costly raw materials should investigate whether the use of recycled materials would prove to be more cost effective.
The picture in Europe
77% of Europe’s waste plastic is generated by seven countries, with the UK being the third worst offender. The UK also ranks 22nd out of 29 when it comes to recovering energy from waste plastics.
Plastics sent to waste to energy plants can however no longer be reused or recycled.
Businesses should therefore check the green credentials of their waste management company to ensure recycling or recovery is being carried out properly and in line with their expectations.
Whilst this won’t necessarily lead to huge financial gains, becoming a company recognised for its green credentials may attract new customers and clients who value those ethics.
For businesses that sell directly to the public, altering or reducing packaging can have financial benefits and help cut post-consumer plastic packaging waste in households.
In addition, one should also consider the types of materials and packaging customers can easily recycle.
By implementing such changes within ones business it may be possible to affect the behaviour of customers and in turn encourage them to become more environmentally friendly.
Information on packaging indicating whether or not materials can be recycled will help educate customers and may win additional ones who lean towards sustainable and greener companies.
Retailers are able to influence the behaviour of customers and can also impact the supply chain further down.
Seeking out more efficient and environmentally friendly suppliers not only puts pressure on the industry to create greener product solutions, but also encourages new suppliers to fill the gap if there aren’t already green alternatives.
Working closely with suppliers to develop these new products can give them clear criteria that they should aim to meet your own sustainability plan. Sourcing local suppliers has the added benefits of reduced shipping costs and CO2 emissions.
Suppliers should keep in mind that businesses will be searching for sustainable products and that the sooner these are developed, the stronger the position a business in this field will be when it comes to retaining big clients and gathering new customers seeking more efficient suppliers.
Once developed, businesses can start offering the products to clients, educating them about the benefits, such as less waste being sent to landfill or even being generated in the first place.
Suppliers could also benefit by investing in newer, more efficient machinery and equipment which can often reduce waste such as scrap materials. Reducing this will reduce waste management costs and also help the environment.
It is imperative for business to recycle effectively with good sorting and collection services in place. Demand for these services can lead to the establishment of good quality waste management companies in the area. It can also work the other way around with the high quality waste & recycling firm coming first.
A waste management company that works with businesses to improve recycling by simplifying the process and educating companies about the benefits, will impact the supply chain further up.
It only takes one link in the supply chain to have the motivation to make these changes, resulting in a huge ripple effect across their industry.
Taking into consideration the environmental and financial benefits, it is becoming increasingly necessary to make that leap.
There has never been a better time for businesses to consider ways in which they can become more sustainable and in doing so make a positive contribution to the environment.