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Recycling Isn’t Enough, You Need to Close the Loop

APR 22, 2020

Sustainability is more than recycling; it is the overall impact your business has on society and the environment. While it’s important to establish recycling systems within your organization it’s also important that you recycle responsibly, which means knowing what happens to recyclables after they are placed in the recycling bin. You should ask and have answers to questions like ‘how much are we recycling’, ‘what is it being recycled into’ and ‘is it recycled in a sustainable way’.

You also need to consider your own supply chain. Whether it’s paper or water bottles for in office consumption, or raw materials for manufacturing, are you sourcing sustainable products and materials?

Your sustainability goal should be to bring recycling and sourcing together to close your supply chain loop. This means the waste from products you consume are recycled into new products. Ideally these new products from your recycled materials are brought back into your supply chain rather than consuming products made from raw materials drawing on new resources.

Here’s how your organization can take steps to close your supply chain loop.

  1. Review your consumption

 Identify all the different items you consume in the office and in manufacturing. What waste do they produce and what are you doing with that waste? Some of the easiest items to identify are paper, metal and plastic.

Once you identify these items, you’ll need to audit how much waste you are producing and establish a plan for reusing or recycling this waste.

DGrade works with customers to collect and provide an audit of their plastic water bottle waste through our Simply Bottles recycling initiative.

  1. Assess your supply chain

What goods are you using in your office or manufacturing? Are they made in a sustainable way, or can they be made in a more sustainable way?

For example, if you purchase clothing and accessories for uniforms or events, what material are they made from and what impact do they have on the environment?

Cotton for instance requires land for crops and vast amounts of water for cultivation – 1 kg of cotton fabric requires more than 10,000 liters of water for cultivation. While synthetics such as polyester require oil, which is a finite resource.

DGrade produces Greenspun™ yarn made from recycled plastic bottles, which is used to manufacture high quality polyester clothing and accessories. Our process diverts plastic from landfill, and our yarn production uses 50% less energy, 20% less water and produces 55% fewer carbon emissions compared to virgin polyester yarn.

  1. Closing the loop

You’ve assessed your consumption and reviewed your supply chain - now it’s time to close the loop. By recycling (items such as plastic packaging) and sourcing goods made from recycled products you are participating in a circular economy.

To close your internal supply chain loop, you should be reusing your waste in your supply chain. DGrade supports companies in this way by recycling our clients’ plastic water bottle waste into uniforms and other clothing.

We provide an audit of how much plastic was collected and identify what it’s recycled into. For example, we might collect 10,000 water bottles from a client which we would recycle into 1,000 staff t-shirts. In this way they have closed the loop between the plastic bottle consumption and uniform supply.

A similar model can also be applied to other areas of your supply chain, paper and grey water are other key areas where you can make quick changes to closing the loop.

Benefits of Closing the Loop

There are numerous benefits to closing the loop including less waste to landfill, lower carbon emissions, preserving natural resources, less energy and water consumption.

Many organizations have already set some sustainability goals, but many organizations have not yet gone far enough.

As customers, communities, and governments demand organizations to adopt more sustainable practices closing the loop will become a necessity. Many consumers are in fact concerned enough about sustainability that they are willing to pay more for ethical and environmentally responsible brands.

Organizations will also be expected to align with government goals. For example, UAE Vision 2021 to divert 75% of waste from landfill, reduce carbon emissions, and reduce energy and water consumption. To support this vision the Dubai government has itself invested in several sustainable initiatives and set an ambitious goal to deliver one of the most sustainable Expos ever.

DGrade’s expertise lies in helping organizations close the supply chain loop by recycling their plastic bottles into uniforms, clothing, accessories, and other merchandise. Take the next step to make your organization more sustainable, contact DGrade at [email protected].

 

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