No longer the “next big thing” recycling is now an integral part of UK business life.
Recycling is now so much part of business life that it’s almost invisible: the green boxes and bins around the office, in the kitchen or canteen, the cartridge recycling bags, biodegradable packaging, carbon footprints and alternative energy options are no longer discussed – they just exist. As a result, it’s often easy to overlook its benefits and just how much greener UK business has become over the past couple of decades.
Last year’s Olympic Games were an outstanding example of how recycling, reuse and renewables have been integrated into our lives. The Games’ whole ethos was built around legacy – making full use of the facilities once the Olympics had finished. A year later, and this “recycling” is now clear for all to see.
The athletes’ accommodation has been redeveloped into new residential areas and the first new homes sold. The Olympic stadium has hosted its first Athletes’ meeting since the Games, the Park itself reopened as the Queen Elizabeth Park and has already staged a series of successful events, whilst The Aquatic Centre will shortly open as a multi-sport venue. The Games’ Media Centre is now a hi-tech digital and media centre for business and home to the new BT Sports broadcast operation.
Whilst the scale and cost of these programmes is enormous, they clearly show what can be achieved by a willingness to embrace recycling in all its form. It also demonstrates the benefits – not only to the local and national economy, but to the wider environment too.
The increasing awareness of recycling environmental benefit has been key to its success at every level. Historically, consumers who adopted recycling and a greener lifestyle looked for businesses which shared their environmental values. This opportunity, the potential to cut operating costs and the increasing costs of waste disposal acted as both “carrot and stick” for many companies to take recycling far more seriously.
The rapid growth in the number of businesses providing advice, services and products to help organisations reduce their costs by recycling is an indication of its established position. In tough economic times, most businesses recognise that recycling can help cut costs, often without incurring a great deal of expenditure.
Printer cartridges perfectly illustrate this: last year, UK business put more than 55 million into landfill – at a huge environmental and financial cost. Many will take over 1000 years to decompose, whilst their disposal costs are constantly increasing: UK Landfill Tax is now £72 per tonne, rising to £80 per tonne in 2014 (up from £32 in 2008).
Yet there are many organisations which specialise in recycling them – some paying up to £12 per cartridge. Cartridge World, the printer cartridge specialists estimate that last year, its UK customers had saved around £6m through recycling these essential office supplies.
Recycling and effective waste management is integral to the way that serviced office provider, Business Environment (BE) operates its 15 centres in London and the south east. The Group’s card, paper, food, consumables and general waste recycling initiatives have allowing BE to cut its waste disposal cost by £4000 per month compared with last year. With an average carbon saving in Q1 2013 of 142 tonnes, the equivalent of having a TV on for nearly 500 years.
BE is just one of many organisations whose recycling initiatives are now part of their business life. It may no longer be a revolution, but recycling has fundamentally changed how UK business operates and how it views the environment.