Resource management company, Veolia, is set to make a major increase to the amount of recycled plastic used in milk bottles and close the UK to UK recycling loop for the UK dairy industry.
The project will see over 100 million new recycled bottles created each year by ensuring that they are produced, distributed, consumed, collected, sorted, washed & reprocessed and made into bottles in the UK.
Every year three hundred million milk bottles arrive at Veolia’s plastic recycling facilities. After being collected and compressed into bales, the bottles are ground into flakes. They are washed several times to remove label residue and clean the plastic.
Infrared sorters then separate the transparent HDPE body of the bottle from the cap, which will also be recycled and the transparent HDPE is then formed into premium grade pellets ready for conversion into new bottles.
This marks another significant step towards building a circular economy and a greener, lower carbon future
As recycling these into new containers uses up to 75% less energy than using virgin material the process will lower carbon and support the UK Dairy Roadmap initiative. If all plastic were recycled this could result in annual savings of 30 to 150 million tonnes of CO2 and can both curb the growing life-cycle GHG emissions from plastics, and also prevent plastics from entering the marine environment.
The new agreement is also an important step towards achieving the goals set by the UK Plastics Pact. Created in April 2018 to fight plastic pollution, this collaborative initiative lays the foundation for a circular plastics economy and its members include 40 leading brands representing the entire plastics value chain, UK government institutions and NGOs.
The Pact has three main goals for 2025: 100% of plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or biodegradable; 70% will be efficiently recycled or composted; and all plastic packaging produced will contain 30% recycled material.
Commenting on the operations Tim Duret, Director of Sustainable Technology at Veolia UK and Ireland said: “This marks another significant step towards building a circular economy and a greener, lower carbon future. To kickstart the green recovery, the environment and climate change must be priorities and by capturing, converting and re using this material in the UK we can deliver a local recycling loop and support the sustainability goals of the UK dairy industry.”
Key to limiting the environmental impact and carbon emissions is effective waste management to treat packaging at its end of life, and recycling always wins over virgin production on all environmental indicators. For plastics, it has been shown that recycling saves between 30% and 80% of the carbon emissions that virgin plastic processing and manufacturing generate.
Casestudies: Three small businesses make recycling a key part of their ‘sustainable business models’
Climate change is an issue all businesses can do something about by taking action to reduce their carbon emissions. Recycling is one of the easy steps every business can take to help.
Last year the UK Government laid out plans for a green industrial revolution. The aim is to build a greener Britain by cutting carbon emissions, paving the way for the global Race to Net Zero.
This year the UK will host the G7 Summit and the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, to build world-wide cooperation to tackle climate change.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is encouraging small businesses across the country to join the fight against climate change by going green, putting recycling at the heart of the business, as one of the steps they can take to play their part.
This Global Recycling Day, an initiative from the Global Recycling Foundation, three small businesses share how they have taken responsibility for their own recycling habits, and how through new and simple initiatives they are working towards a more sustainable future for our planet.
Encouraging customers to send back their old swimwear for recycling is key to building a cleaner, greener business for Natalie Glaze and Zanna Van Dijk, co-founders of fashion brand Stay Wild.
“This year we have launched our new circularity project, to take back people’s old swimwear they no longer wear from any brand and recycle and repurpose them to keep clothes out of landfill.
“We take pre-orders to minimise any wastage, utilise deadstock in our collection, make high quality pieces that last longer to encourage buying less, but better. We produce our items at a small zero waste factory in London and upcycle material heading to landfill into t-shirts”.
Stay Wild launched in 2019, using sustainable materials and local production, and has a small team of ten staff. Zanna says there are simple steps every business can take to make sure recycling is front of mind.
“This is a crucial time in our global fight against climate change. A great place to start is packaging. Reduce the need for new materials and switch to reusable, recyclable or compostable options. All our hang tags and packaging are recycled and recyclable, our hygiene liners are compostable, and even the stitching on our swimwear is made from recycled plastic bottles.
“We hope to pave the way for more brands to do the same and hope that our approach will inspire others to think in a more sustainable way.”
Former BBC Apprentice star Susie Ma created Tropic to be a force for good beyond beauty. She believes that all businesses have a responsibility to the planet and to protect the natural world.
“No company is perfect, but we believe in progression and ensuring that we are doing everything we can to meet the highest standards possible. We hope to inspire and drive change through example.
“We’ve been landfill free for two years and in 2020, we recycled 122 tonnes which equated to 65% of all our waste. Anything we can’t recycle is repurposed into an alternative fuel (that replaces fossil fuels) to power homes and businesses. All the energy used to recycle and turn our waste into alternative fuel is, like all aspects of our operations, double carbon offset.”
Susie explains how they have created a fully recyclable product.
“Our Colour Palette was created to bring a sustainable solution to the beauty industry that would generate far less landfill waste. The palette can be refilled by simply replacing the product pans once empty. The product pans are made of aluminium, which is infinitely recyclable. The process of recycling aluminium saves around 95% of the energy needed to make the metal new from raw materials, and it can be repeated infinitely without any loss of quality. To date, the Colour Palette has stopped over 10 tonnes of plastic waste from being generated, compared to our previous makeup range.”
Shed 1 Gin
Husband and wife Andrew and Zoe Arnold-Bennett explain why recycling is at the core of their innovative small batch gin business.
Zoe, of Cumbria-based Shed 1 Gin, says: “From the beginning it was important to us to be as sustainable as we possibly could be. When we first designed our packaging, we made sure to pick material which is recycled, recyclable, reusable, or compostable.
“We invested in a cardboard shredder, which shreds cardboard into nets which we then wrap our bottles in. The cardboard comes in from goods ordered, and we reuse it by shredding it and using it to package the goods we send out. When needed we supplement with green, compostable bubble wrap which, if it ends up in landfill, degrades and adds nutrients to the soil. Our corks are also recyclable as are our paper labels.”
The duo also encourage their customers to be sustainable.
Andrew adds: “It is important that recycling doesn’t just stop with us. We encourage our customers to bring in their old corks, and we send them off to be recycled. We also offer a refill service for those living locally, as well as a bottle return initiative. For every bottle returned to us we donate to our Marmalade Fund.”
Shed 1 Gin know that recycling isn’t just about the packaging.
“Beyond packing we also looked at making sure we were putting the planet first during production. We use a closed cooling system, which means we can recycle the cooling water used in the distilling process, minimising water loss – saving thousands of litres of water every year.”
All businesses can start making small changes now to reduce their carbon footprint by recycling to help meet the UK’s target of becoming Net-Zero by 2050.
Find out how to green your business at the Race to Zero SME Climate Hub website and pledge to Net-Zero targets.
Recycled Products kickstarts Global Recycling Foundations Reforestation Initiative
Chesham-based metal recycling firm Recycled Products this week planted 20 trees to mark Global Recycling Day on 18 March.
The firm has committed to planting a total of at least 250 saplings in the Chilterns in support of a reforestation initiative run by the organisers of Global Recycling Day.
The event, held in conjunction with the Global Recycling Foundation (GRF), also marked 20 years in business by Recycled Products.
Recycled Products were honoured to have the founding president of the GRF, Ranjit Baxi, join with managing director Susie Burrage in planting the first tree – a Prunus Cherry Plum, which had just started to blossom.
The other trees include beech, which have come to symbolise the idyllic Chilterns countryside. The event was filmed by DGTV, an Indian television company and will be broadcast there. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, which is a major contributor to climate change, and release oxygen into the air.
A single tree can produce enough oxygen for four people. Unfortunately, an analysis of emissions shows 306 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were released in Britain in 2020. Recycled Products is leading the way in backing the UK’s goal to be net carbon neutral by 2050.
By using recycled copper, CO2 emissions can be reduced by 65% compared to use of mined primary copper, for example. Recycling aluminium gives a higher 92% reduction, and the figure is a headline, 99% for recycled lead.
Susie Burrage, managing director of Recycled Products, said: “All recycled materials are inherently low carbon, so metal recyclers have a key role to play as society looks to cut CO2 emissions in the decades ahead. This doesn’t absolve us of all responsibility for working on reducing our own carbon footprint, however.
“Global Recycling Day is a great reminder that we all – from individuals to large companies and governments – must play our part in achieving net-zero carbon emissions and limit the worst effects of climate change.
“Those of us working in the recycling sector are more aware of this than most and are therefore making every effort to limit our carbon emissions. Recycled Products are offsetting unavoidable emissions by planting trees.”
‘Generational divide’ in knowledge about recycling, says EMR
European Metal Recycling (EMR) teamed up with YouGov to find out more about British attitudes to recycling, knowledge about the recycling industry, and what assistance they would like in improving their own recycling efforts.
YouGov surveyed more than 2,000 people over the age of 18 and one of the starkest findings was the generational divide in knowledge about recycling.
The YouGov survey shows there is work to do to grow young people’s awareness of recycling.
While 89 percent of 45 to 54-year-olds, and 88 percent of those aged 55 and above, were aware that metals can be reused and recycled, this awareness drops to 65 percent among 18 to 24-year-olds, EMR says.
The trend is mirrored in areas such as batteries where 74 percent of people over 55 were aware that they can be recycled, falling to 51 percent for those aged 18 to 24.
Even with clothing there is a similar disparity, EMR says. The most mature age group were most aware of the recyclability of clothes (94 percent) with the youngest least aware (68 percent).
EMR suggests that education is key to providing young people with enough understanding about recycling and the role recycling will play in a moving toward a circular economy.
EMR says while there is a clear ‘generational divide’ in knowledge about recycling, there is widespread agreement about where responsibility lies for ensuring waste can be processed for recycling.
Asked to pick who was responsible for separating waste items for recycling, the majority of each group (when split by age, income, gender and region) stated that, as the consumer, it should be up to them to sort waste items. This compares to less than half of respondents (46 percent) who identified waste management companies as bearing the responsibility.