Why Recycling Must Begin on the Factory Floor

Wherever you turn today, you cannot get away from the word recycling. Every part of society, from households to factory owners is now involved in the collective process of making sure the UK's recycling targets are met. Many local authorities are now specifying in their tenders that every product supplied to them must contact a certain%age of recycled content, or any service that is supplied to them must show a degree of sustainability in its process. Making products in a 'greener' way while maintaining the balance and quality is now part of the daily challenge for manufacturers keen to win new contracts while satisfying the criteria stipulated by clients such as local authorities. Leaner production, cutting down on energy costs and sourcing more sustainable materials is all now part of the constant effort by manufacturers to do their bit. Those that have embraced the challenge for a green production and supply chain structure have seen better supplier and customer relationships, as well as the broader effects it has had on operations strategy in an evolving sustainable environment. One area of opportunity for manufacturers is how to make use of recycled products in the manufacturing process. Making best use of recycled plastic In fact, in today's economic climate it has become imperative for manufacturers in all sectors to make the best use of recycled materials in the production phase helping to meet the growing demand for products with higher recycled content. For manufacturers in the waste management industry, this area of the market is gaining increasing importance and has strong economic and environmental benefits. It also backs-up a report by Defra and the Department for Business (BIS) recently which said UK companies and entrepreneurs should do more to exploit opportunities in the growing waste and recycling sector, especially manufacturers. Therefore, it is vital that manufacturers quickly understand the economic and environmental benefits of using resources that are recycled more efficiently. Recycled plastic in action For example, MBG Plastics, a UK based manufacturer of wheeled bins, won a contract to supply Hull City Council with over 300,000 new recycling products recently - one of the main conditions was the use of recycled content. The local council stipulated that the old bins must be recycled to create new wheeled bins and kitchen caddies. MGB Plastics collected all the bins, recycled them and the re-used the material in the production of new bins delivered to Hull City Council over the course of the contract. As a result the company has helped Hull achieve record recycling rates with the delivery of bins with a 70% recycling participation rate on its new blue bin scheme, a huge improvement on its 30% to 40% average previously. The recycling process provided by MGB Plastics involves the collection of old bins which are then transported to its factory in Rotherham. The recycling unit then removes the wheels and axles, deep cleans the bins before shredding and granulating them into small pieces of regrind. A%age of this recycled material is then used to create new bins. Over time, the use of recycled materials has to increase if the UK is to make headway on its journey to sustainability. If UK is serious about tackling climate change, it must involve the co-operation across the complete supply chain from manufacturers, local authorities and households - from the factory floor to the front door. Conor Sugrue is general manager at MGB Plastics, based in Rotherham. Sign up for Waste Management World's Free E-Mail Newsletters