Recycling: everything you need to know to put it into practice
See how recycling can become a market differential for your company and learn which processes and tools are necessary to start practicing it today.
We can verify the recycling as the process of transformation of discarded materials for the elaboration of new products.
In this way, recycling is a way to reduce the production of materials, through the substitution of virgin raw material by recycled, and consequently, of waste, which makes it extremely important nowadays.
It is estimated that we have already generated more than 8 billion tons of plastic, of which only 10% was actually recycled. And different from what we can think this amount generates impact not only environmental, but economic, both for the state and for small and large companies.
And of course the impact of all the waste brings many negative consequences, however, with them, several opportunities to apply creative and profitable solutions arise, creating a market differential. Many brands, inclusive, have already started actions for a sustainable marketing.
In other words, besides the intense production model of disposable materials, we are living a moment of rethinking our consumer relations and positioning as a company.
There are tools to deal with the recycling issue at corporate level but that for being complex scares many entrepreneurs. We want to uncomplicate a little of these solutions so that you start to apply and promote recycling in your enterprise, without wasting much time.
Historical contextualization: the garbage problem
It wasn’t long ago that our relationship with the waste/dump was completely different from what we have today. From the thousands of years of humanity, only in the last century, with the first and second industrial revolution, plastic, metal, paper and glass started to be massively manufactured.
Employees for the creation of several products, the disposables became a fever among consumers for practicality and low cost. However, through the shy but consistent advances in environmental awareness, we perceived a growing search by consumers for more sustainable alternatives.
The straw, for example, was only created in 1888, with the objective of replacing a natural straw that was obtained from a kind of grass, which ended up leaving a taste in the drink. Since it became popular, we have trillions of straws being consumed daily around the world.
The representativeness of the environmental debate that the straw brings is indisputable, however it is only one of the starting points that we can choose for an analysis that aims to rethink and restructure the way we have the products and production in our enterprise.
In general, the issue of garbage, and especially its management, is something much older, which borders on health issues and which influence public health since the first human settlements. With solid waste being exponentially generated, finding a way to fully manage production, disposal and disposal has become the responsibility not only of the government but also of private initiatives.
Why are companies mobilizing?
Of course, the straw has become an icon of the current waste problem, but it is not the only problem and should not be blamed for all the negative externalities of waste. It appears as a solution to a problem, which in the end has created some negative consequences, which have led to new solutions and alternatives for this issue. And so humanity walks.
This mobilization has worried companies around the world, which bet on the growth of sustainability in their business as a way to embrace the niche of increasingly conscious consumers.
Even so, not all companies practice or encourage recycling actions, for three very understandable reasons, although mistaken. They are them:
- It is very expensive to adopt a strategy that helps to improve recycling rates.
- I don’t have time to implement something like this.
- My team/head is not engaged enough to have a systemic change.
Time, money and people are the main challenges, and at the same time opportunities, of a good administrative strategy. By looking at the three elements mentioned, as limiting, you will be limiting your business before even thinking about creative and economic alternatives.
We will show in the next topics that some recycling solutions can be implemented in a cheap way, and the best, can help in the development of a sustainable marketing that will bring financial return.
Besides all the pressure of conscious consumption, there is also the advance of environmental legislation, among them the National Policy for Solid Waste (PNRS) and its main instrument, the Reverse Logistics.
The reverse logistics cycle and the PNRS
The reverse logistics cycle explains the recycling waste flow in Brazil. It starts in the manufacture of the product, then goes to distribution where it is directed to retail and gains the reach of consumers. After consumption the waste continues the cycle, being discarded for selective collection, they are sorted by recycling cooperatives, otherwise they are sent to landfills and dumps. When properly sorted, there is the sale to final recyclers, which do the recycling and sell to the industry, thus closing the cycle.
The Reverse Logistics is exactly the adequate return of the residues for the industry, you can confer a complete content about this instrument, here. It was instituted by the National Policy of Solid Waste, environmental legislation mother of all waste in Brazil. It defines the guidelines for correct disposal and ways to minimize the environmental impact. It arose from the need to minimize the number of landfills and dumps, make a better waste management and through the principle of shared responsibility share the costs of states with private initiatives.
Currently, through the PNRS there is a search for the integration of all actors mentioned in the reverse logistics cycle. We have made a general guide of PNRS where you can check the advances of legislation and to follow more closely, there is the SINIR (Information System for Solid Waste Management) that always tells the latest news and tools for implementing a quality solid waste management system.
Actions that your company can take
To understand in practice feasible measures that can be adopted is a challenge. To facilitate this process we have separated some actions that you can start to rethink or even apply today.
Packaging is the main current disposal volume. Almost everything is put under some kind of protection, even fruits like banana or tangerine. In order to make life easier we are taking consumption to unprecedented levels. And it is all right in protecting our products, even because they should arrive in good condition to the consumer.
To make this possible and generate even less impact you can follow the actions listed below:
- Ensure that the materials that make up your packaging are recyclable and recycled in fact. This means that most types of materials have some kind of process that can recycle them, and are therefore considered recyclable. It happens that not all of them are in fact recycled because some processes are very expensive or generate materials of low quality, which ends up not compensating and being left aside in practice. In our program we give tips on recyclables vs. recycled and Recifavela, a recycling cooperative, has a very good YouTube channel also to tell what is really recyclable.
- Reduce to the maximum the amount of packaging, ensuring, of course, the protection of the product. Think about whether it is worth leaving twice as much packaging for purely cosmetic reasons, for example.
- Offer packaging return policies to your consumers, offering discounts in return.
Do you want to know more tips on how to leave your packaging sustainable and promote recycling? We have created a Complete Guide that can be downloaded for free from the image below.
Beware of the type of waste
The highest recycling rates are currently present in aluminum waste, where, for example, we have the recycling of more than 95% of all aluminum cans for beverages. This is mainly because it is possible to recycle them indefinitely without loss of quality, in a cheap metal casting process.
In glass, the scenario is not so encouraging, although it is one of the materials most considered sustainable. It happens that it is economically viable for recycling while it is whole, if it is discarded broken, the procedure for collection, manipulation and sorting ends up being expensive for putting at risk the health of the cooperative members who carry out the separation.
This “expensive” is in relation mainly to the very low cost of obtaining the glass, different from the aluminum. So if they are going to discard glass, guarantee that it will be wrapped by newspaper or a resistant plastic packaging so that the cooperative members don’t get hurt on the manipulation.
There are several plastic classifications below we put the name of the most known and the respective numbering that accompany them on the packaging.