Prevent waste and boost business, by DS Smith Recycling
Report by Matthew Prosser, European Commercial Director, Recycling Division DS Smith Recycling
In the UK, food industry waste is estimated to cost £5 billion per year. Across the supply chain, from processor, manufacturer to retailer, savings could be made. The waste, comprising food and packaging, is managed differently by sectors, some recycling more than others. In the hospitality sector, for example, only 50% of waste produced is recycled or sent for composting. As 56% of the packaging and other non-food waste thrown away could have been recycled there are considerable opportunities to do more, particularly with glass containers, cardboard, plastic bottles and cans. In addition there are more opportunities to increase the recovery of food waste through diversion into AD or composting. (Wrap Report: Overview of Waste in the UK Hospitality and Food Sector).
While packaging has its place, in protecting and prolonging the life of many food items, opportunities are being missed to capture valuable materials that can be used again. Collecting materials separately from other items helps to retain the quality of materials and realises a higher value. And helps keep materials within the economy for as long as possible. The security of resources is a real issue. One third of profits warnings from FTSE350 companies were linked to resource risks in 2012.
Increases in landfill tax, which will rise to £80 per tonne from April 2014, should provide businesses with the impetus to find alternative ways of disposing of waste. Preventing waste from being disposed of in landfill sites can generate substantial savings for an organisation. Every pound of waste prevention that’s saved is equal to a profit for companies that would cost £4 in additional sales to generate.
Under the revised Waste Framework Directive businesses are required to follow the principles of the waste hierarchy, starting with reduction, followed by reuse and recycling. This makes perfect sense as our aim should always be about reaching zero waste. By following the waste hierarchy we can obtain valuable resources, helping to overcome resource security and improving UK economic resilience.
There are potential savings to be had for most businesses by following simple procedures:
You need to know what’s in the bin before you start. We provide a 360 degree waste audit when we first start working with customers, identifying which materials are being disposed and where in the process they are being thrown away. Collection systems are set up following this review, collecting different materials separately, so paper and card are collected in one bin, plastics another and so on.
Audits should be an ongoing process, continually assessing where additional savings can be made. How are materials stored, are they kept for a long time before being used, increasing the potential for being damaged? Can you find alternative processes that mean you use materials more efficiently, creating less waste in the first place? Reaching zero waste is a journey, one that will not be reached overnight, but does require creative thinking in doing things differently to how they’ve always been done.
The aim of proponents of the circular economy is to keep materials within the economy for as long as possible. Product and packaging designers need to think about the whole life of the product, not just its initial use. How easy is it to reuse, dismantle or recycle? For example, reusing pallets for the delivery of goods, keeps the material in the supply chain longer than using once and discarding.
Most materials can be recycled, particularly common ones such as paper and card, plastics, metals and glass. From 2015 businesses will be required to separate out these materials for recycling in England. In Scotland regulations begin from 1 January 2014. As I mentioned earlier, separate collections means capturing higher quality materials that can be used again and again in reprocessing, generating a higher value. Helping to reduce business waste costs and improving their bottom line.
Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force
The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration.
The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing.
“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said.
In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”.
In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips.
Support domestic production of critical medicines
- A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”.
- The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.
Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries
- The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”.
- The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”.
Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals
- An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”.
- The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.
Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages
- The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing.
- Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”.