‘The circular economy’ is a term few of us had heard of 5 years ago. Now, as a business owner, it’s much more likely to be on your radar.
For decades, waste management has been linear. In other words, things are made, things are used, things get discarded.
Office buildings have historically been hugely guilty of this. To be “on brand” and customize to their needs, companies take it to the extreme, scrapping and refitting everything from the flooring to the desks to the signage each time they move in and out of an office.
In this linear style of waste management, perfectly good and even brand-new furniture and equipment gets thrown away.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Or rather, it shouldn’t be this way. That’s why circular waste management recognizes that there is no “away”.
Every item we dispose of ends up somewhere. Sometimes, that’s properly managed landfill. Sometimes it’s our streets and woodlands. Sometimes it’s our oceans. Sometimes it’s the oceans of developing countries.
In summary, linear waste disposal is never positive. The only route to true sustainability is circularity, and our mission at Waste to Wonder is to make redistribution the de facto choice for ethical office clearance.
So, what does circularity actually look like in your daily operations?
How can my business be more circular?
The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra is a good place to start, because it presents not only the methods, but the order:
- Reduce: First, cut out anything you don’t need. This is the gold star of sustainability and sits at the very top of the waste hierarchy. Some examples include going paper free, cutting out unnecessary packaging, or reducing the thickness or weight of your products.
- Reuse: Next, keep anything you can use again, and look to repurpose anything you’re not getting the most out of. Consider running a collection service for the bottles, tins, or boxes your products come in to be washed and reissued (Germany is great at doing this with beer bottles).
- Recycle: although recycling is great, and sometimes the only option, it should be the last port of call before sending something to landfill. In fact, the World Economic Forum has gone as far as to advise us to “avoid recycling at all costs”, and to “consider waste and pollution as design flaws”.
Despite its positive image, the reason recycling sits at last place is because it requires energy. Glass bottles need an immense amount of heat to be melted down and then recast. Plastic takes much less energy to recycle, but still needs to be transported, washed, crushed, and remoulded, all of which comes with a carbon footprint.
In addition, nothing is perfectly salvaged in recycling. PET loses its structural integrity after around 10 rounds of recycling. All recycled glass needs a small percentage of original cullet to help it bind.
With recycling there is always loss. Reuse is the only carbon-footprint free way to dispose of things we no longer need.
What if I don’t have the option to reuse things?
As with many ideals, reuse isn’t always possible. Technology becomes obsolete. Things break beyond repair. And sometimes, our needs as a business simply change too much to keep using old things.
The key is to get the maximum possible life out of something. And when you can’t, ask if anyone else can.
Waste To Wonder created the School in a Box initiative for this exact reason. Companies and office managers who partner with us arrange to have their no-longer-needed chairs, desks, computers, shelving units, and more cleared by us, safely and ethically.
We carefully sort the items in our redistribution pool, package them into a 40-foot container, and match them with schools, charities, and training centres, who are in desperate need of the equipment, around the world.
We win, you win, and the people in the developing countries that enjoy furnished classrooms, community centres, training centres, hospitals and accommodation win even more.
Visit us here to learn more about one of the simplest and most effective initiatives for boosting your business’s circularity.
Are you looking for an ethical clearance provider?
We are office clearance specialists for socially conscious businesses. If you have an upcoming clearance project in the UK or Europe that you would like to see benefit communities, please get in touch to see how we can manage it for you.