Closing the Loop: Reducing Waste through Circular Economy Strategies
A circular economy encourages us to keep resources in use for as long as possible, squeezing out the maximum value from what we produce.
A circular economy has become central to sustainable waste management practices. The recycling and waste management industry is no doubt ahead of the game as we understand the significance of recycling and have done for many years. Rather than making, using and disposing of resources in a linear fashion, a circular economy model encourages us to keep resources in use for as long as possible, squeezing out the maximum value from what we produce.
And so, since 1997 Zest Recycle have been helping our clients by:
- Identifying reuse and refurbishment opportunities for key waste streams, such as wooden pallets or office furniture
- Identifying opportunities within the supply chain to reduce waste and increase recycling – for example, by moving away from single-use plastics to compostable catering items
- Focusing on niche and problem wastes such as single-use coffee cups to provide bespoke solutions
Identifying opportunities for anaerobic digestion
Our circular economy approach is evident in our partnership with Noble Foods, a leading supplier of fresh dairy brands. Over the years we have worked with Noble Foods to extract several lines of recycling for recovery by segregating their waste streams.
After conducting a full site audit of the Gainsborough site to review the current system in and around the office and canteen areas, it was concluded there was further scope to take recycling up another gear. To achieve this, it would require a complete change in set up and operational processes, as well as training and an educational awareness programme for staff.
Our proposition introduced a clear, colour-coded container set up to capture paper, plastics, cans, food and general waste from the office, canteen and plant areas. Food waste caddies were also proposed for the canteen areas for tea bags and lunch scrapings. With this waste stream sent for anaerobic digestion, the client was contributing to a circular economy with its production of energy from food waste.
Our circular economy approach achieved a cost saving of 40% compared to the previous set up. We helped to improve the consistency of recycling across the business, allowing the client to hit 65% recycling and 100% landfill diversion with the remainder of food waste sent for anaerobic digestion.
Sourcing compostable food packaging solutions
Another example of our circular economy approach is with one of our facilities management clients. At the time of taking over the contract, the client was utilising single use disposable food packaging which was then being placed in the general waste containers by staff and visitors. As part of their commitment to promote sustainable waste practices, they were keen to pursue a policy to eradicate single use plastics throughout the site to help contribute to a circular economy.
We focused on their niche problem by sourcing a compostable food packaging solution to replace existing polystyrene containers, including hot boxes, soup containers, drink cups and cutlery.
A key factor in ensuring the new system was a success was ensuring that contamination was kept to an absolute minimum. And so, we organised two guided tours of the contractor’s composting facility with all stakeholders involved in the contract prior to launch and included educational presentations. In addition, we carried out a promotional day on launch of the new system, with over 100 members of staff visiting our stand on the day to learn about the benefits and participate in the interactive activities and competitions.
By switching from single use packaging and implementing composting treatment the waste is being treated more sustainably and general waste has been reduced through diverting food and packaging waste from the general waste stream.
Talk to Zest Recycle
Businesses of all types can benefit from working with recycling and waste management professionals. At Zest Recycle, we deliver tailored resource management solutions which focus on a circular economy approach with best practice to ensure our clients are environmental leaders in their sector.
If you need our support or advice on any recycling or waste management initiatives, including how to embrace a circular economy, we’re just a phone call away.
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