Although coronavirus is dominating the headlines, we would like to put the spotlight on Global Recycling Day, which is today. Robert Lockyer, CEO and founder behind luxury packaging provider Delta Global, says there is not only an irreversible environmental risk, but a reputational risk if recycling isn’t part of your current and future agenda.
Brands are acting quickly to embrace sustainability and now with people more concerned than ever about what we dispose of, brands must see the opportunity for innovation especially in the packaging, beauty and fashion industries.
In a move to bring in legislation which sees businesses genuinely changing their waste policies, the government recently announced the Budget 2020 stating that there would be a tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled content. Due to come into force in April 2022 it will be set to £200 a tonne.
The waste footprint of clothing is shocking, it is estimated that over 39 million tonnes of clothing ends up in landfills every year. And, recent reports show we are polluting our world’s oceans with over 12.7 million tonnes of plastic annually.
“Many shoppers don’t actually understand where their waste ends up, or, they find it difficult to determine what can and can’t be recycled. It’s now about going the extra mile to enable absolute ease of recycling for the customer.
“It’s up to the brands to find new and exciting ways to recycle and we must become inventive in the how we educate and incentivise customers and well as repurpose goods internally in our production chains.”
To mark Global Recycling Day, Robert tells us of the impressive ways recycling is becoming the core of business longevity.
The giants making waves in the industry
Sportswear leader Nike have recently created their ‘Space Hippie’ sneaker line – a vegan sneaker made from recycled materials which were, in fact, trash that would’ve ended up in landfill. The sneakers also have the lowest carbon footprint of any shoe they’ve made to date.
Another global frontrunner, Coca-Cola, has begun producing bottles from 100% recycled plastics, launching the initiative in Sweden. The messages on the labels aim to encourage customers to ‘recycle me again,’ ensuring the circularity of the packaging.
Beauty leaders such as L’Oréal have agreed to purchase years of PET Resin that is made from 100% recycled materials for all its packaging needs. More famously, luxury fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger also said in a recent interview, “in two or three years if a brand is not sustainable, it will be out of business.”
So, what should businesses be doing?
Recycling waste items into new products
People must see opportunity in waste. By educating your supply chain using data and automation processes, you can not only reduce waste and the costs when getting rid of it. By monitoring what waste is produced, you can monetise and cleverly recycle waste into new packaging and even new clothing.
Manufacturers must circulate waste materials back into the production chain, from reclaimed paper cut-offs being made into branded inserts or paper handles. Brands like Levi Strauss have started sending denim offcuts to Italian social enterprise Porto Alegre to be turned into bags.
Partner with new recycling companies
There are many plastics and waste which are not suitable for your household recycling bin as they don’t have the correct symbol and local councils won’t accept them. The extras, such as caps and pumps and plastic-coated cardboard packaging make it difficult for people to recycle. So, solutions have come to life in recent years to address this.
Re-thinking the way we recycle is brand TerraCycle, which works with brands like L’Occitane and the Body Shop. Funded by brands and manufacturers around the world, TerraCycle will collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste, including beauty and skincare containers.
Stores themselves that accept empty, clean and dry packaging from any brands often offer rewards to the customers returning hard-to-recycle plastics. TerraCyle also offers many drop off locations around the UK. Positive Luxury Brand Miller Harris just launched a new bath and body collection with completely recyclable packaging, with some packaging made from 50% recycled, post-consumer waste and infinitely recyclable aluminium.
If you can’t recycle, resell
The leading global platform for pre-owned luxury fashion, Vestiaire Collective, is striking up partnerships that are crucial to creating a cultural shift in the way we think about fashion. More recently, the group joined with luxury Italian jewellers Pomellato (under global leader Kering) in a three-month campaign that rewarded its customers with a 10% off voucher for selling their pre-owned pieces on the resale platform.
The designer described the initiative as ‘an opportunity to extend the lifespan of pre-loved Pomellato pieces and start a new love affair with this season’s collection.’
Rewarding customers in this way will eventually instil a subconscious sustainable behaviour within buyers. But also, we must teach our shoppers about the systems on offer, whether it’s take-back programmes, discounts off new purchases or even charitable donations to clean up our environment. There’s plenty that can be done.
Collections committed to sustainability
Fashion retailer Zalando says its private label Zign will from now on be “fully dedicated” to sustainability, which will first be demonstrated with the launch of a spring/summer 2020 collection including garments made with either 50% or more ‘sustainable’ materials or a minimum of 20% recycled content.
More recently, our company Delta Global partnered with MATCHESFASHION to produce an overhaul on its signature marble box and produced their Eco Luxe box which is now completely recyclable. The new models, made from FSC-certified materials with a water-based finish, feature detachable magnets, after which the boxes are 100 percent recyclable and reusable.
The future of recycling
Now, with corporations finally experiencing pressure from both governing bodies and consumer demand for eco-friendly alternatives, all businesses should set out realistic targets dependent on size and turnover in order to sustain our future. Those targets should not be set for 2025, but in more realistic timeframes.
Brands need to dedicate themselves to a ‘recyclable’ revolution. This year, we’ve witnessed brands of all kinds implementing interesting initiatives to assist the greater good. And, ground-breaking brands like Candiani Denim, who created a plant-based and biodegradable alternative to everyday jeans, are even initiating change in industries that haven’t changed for decades.
As we continue to face the spread of coronavirus, one of the bright spots in the darkness has been the reduction in pollution. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the amount of additional waste it has created. Coffee shops like Starbucks deciding to stop accepting reusable cups from customers and only use their own disposable, single-use cups, and there has been an increase in medical waste in the most affected areas.
Along with that increase in waste, the entire global recycling sector has been impacted by the escalation of the virus. Several cities in the U.S. and Canada have suspended curb-side recycling collection and drop off recycling to protect the people who carry it out. The Chinese paper industry is also facing scrap import restrictions from the U.S.
Whether we’re facing a global pandemic or not, focusing on recycling and making the systems that support it as robust and resilient as possible is always a good idea. From smaller acts to clean up our environment, such as being involved in local litter picks right through to newly designed packaging and fashion, we must also stimulate the search to source recyclable and biodegradable materials, but also generate greener thinking throughout our everyday lives.
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Written by - Francesca Prince