How recycling has changed over the last 10 years. Today, businesses and employees are a lot more ethically conscious. Many are keen to recycle as much as possible at home and expect the same practices to happen in the workplace. Recycling has boomed, becoming a normal activity; something subconscious and yet beneficial. Many businesses are keen to include recycling into their CSR framework because it’s good for their image, but some also know that the whole is greater than the sum, and a business has the potential to do a lot of positive work. With dozens, hundreds or thousands of employees adhering to a CSR framework, the synergy can grow the business an ethical persona, a socially responsible voice that not only lifts the image, but can transform sales figures. Take a look at Lush for example. Recycling sells more! Fact. Many companies are now aware that having environmental credentials such as publicly published recycling rates, zero to landfill policies and even international recognized standards help them attract the right type of client or customer. For example, many companies will have a procurement process now where the environmental impact of their supplier is part of the decision process. Don’t be fooled that this is purely for the manufacturing or food production sector, who typically generate a lot of waste. This applies to service based companies such as IT support and even legal services! If your company is greener then it’ll help your cause when you are pitted against a rival by a potential customer. (Ref) The high quality of products and services now means that it’s almost never an easy decision where to put your money. This, combined with the transparency of the internet and social media, means that it’s easy to find out who is doing good and who is doing bad. Where ten years ago there may have been a handful of choices for a product, now there is a myriad, and any advantage can help. Businesses love to bandy around facts and figures when making a sale, but in such a competitive world the tipping point of a decision can simply be made upon the sustainable and green aspects of a product or service. Supply chain chain management now has a bigger focus than ever on procuring sustainable products and services. A new procedure for supply chain managers is to vet potential suppliers for their ethical standards, researching their environmental and sustainability policies. Ethically sourced products are know to have an intrinsically higher value. (Ref) Availability of services Many of the trade waste collection companies are local or regional so there’s not always the same service in one area as another. Consistency of services is one factor in a company’s ability to recycle more. For example, a retailer with various locations throughout the UK will struggle to replicate the exact same service in every store. This may reduce the amount of material which is recycled. Additionally, the local contractor in one area may take a dry mixed recycling bin, the other may only take paper or cardboard individually. Over the last decade, we’ve seen a rise in the number of businesses who offer to manage waste contracts. Their duty is to organise collections to ease the pressure on businesses who run multiple sites. In addition, they often supply environmental and compliance reporting, which is essential when measuring recycling rates. Ten years ago, backhauling waste was a new idea. Now companies who have a main depot and several branches around the company, sending transport to each via the central location, are bringing back materials from each of the premises. This is a great way of saving money and avoiding the problems causing by local recycling separation schemes, consider also the number of trucks that are saved from making collections. By backhauling, they are reducing their carbon footprint, carrying materials on a journey that was already due to happen. Then, they are turning the waste stream into a revenue, rather than a cost, which is another modern conception of our industry. It’s also an innovative idea that benefits your business image. (Ref) 4) The revenue model For businesses with larger volumes of packaging waste, the cost of equipment has lowered significantly, and far more options are available. There are various different types of machines and procedures that can be tailored to the specific needs. Many companies are selling their waste as a resource and are turning a service that used to cost money, into a profit centre. Many businesses perhaps don’t realize that they could be making money from their recyclable waste, and are giving it away for free or paying to have it collected. Some may see recycling and CSR as a side-mission, or a distriction from core business objectives. The benefit of making money from selling these resources is that the funds can be re-invested into further CSR initiatives, allowing the ‘side-mission’ to sustain itself and increase ethical business value over time. (Ref) The increase in environmental and social concerns over the last ten years has lead to many sustainable business endeavours, some of which are vital for consumer and client decisions. Consider ‘Free-from’, ‘Fairtrade’ and ‘No added preservatives’, as we become socially aware of the problems in a product or service, we can use CSR to adjust them. 5) Legislation Environmental reporting and audit trails are now more important than ever. We have seen a significant increase in the amount of information companies are required to keep records of over the last decade. Some businesses actually wish to visit the destination point of their waste materials, as what goes on beyond collection is not spoken of very often. Legislation is always being written and designed to make recycling easier and more cost effective, whilst making landfills tighter and more expensive. The government may have confusing regional plans that make recycling distorted, but they mean well, and are aiming to make England a Zero Waste nation within the next decade. (Ref)