Three cool recycling innovators and the recycling solutions of the future

Climate change has always been a hot topic, but the conversation has ramped up following the publication of a landmark UN scientific report. The UN chief has said the report “is a code red for humanity” and that human activity is changing the climate in irreversible ways (source: BBC News). We can no longer bury our heads in the sand. It’s time to take action and put in place the recycling solutions we can adopt to dampen the effects of climate change.

As the South West’s leading independent waste collection service and recycling company, we encourage businesses to switch to our Zero to Landfill service. Recycling uses less energy as it reduces the need to manufacture new products from raw materials. This means fewer fossil fuels are burned, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If greater effort went into recycling materials rather than creating new products, it might very well make a difference to our planet. In this blog, we look at three cool recycling innovators, the recycling solutions that big brands are adopting and reveal what DCW is doing to help reverse the effects of climate change.

 

Three recycling innovators that are making a difference

 

First, we are heading to Barcelona as this Spanish city is leading the way in reducing food waste and in turn, reducing fuel emissions. Spain is known for its incredibly indulgent, rich food such as paella, tapas and churros but all of this food requires a lot of oil. In fact, in Barcelona alone, each person uses six litres of oil a year. That’s eight million litres across the entire city (source: Living Circular). Due to the sheer amount of oil being used, this meant an incredible amount of waste oil was regularly poured down the household sink, clogging the city’s drains and effecting its waterways. Just one litre of oil will contaminate 1,000 gallons of water. The solution? Olipot! Since 2010, Barcelona’s City Council has been distributing Olipots to every household. These handy pots are used to pour waste oil into after cooking. A filter traps any food residue, a screw cap keeps leaks at bay and the insulating skin means that you can pour in oil as hot as 180°C. Residents then take their Olipot to a drop-off point in the city. Oil is sent to recycling plants where it is processed into biodiesel which fuels the vehicles that transport the Olipots to the recycling plants. We love this initiative as it’s such a simple yet effective recycling solution. Do you think Britain will ever get on board with a similar scheme?

Plastic waste is a huge problem. It is predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic waste in the ocean than the number of fish if we don’t stop producing plastic waste at a catastrophic rate. One company has come up with a solution to put plastic waste to good use. With 40 million km of roads in the world made using oil, road manufacturer MacRebur is creating roadways out of plastic. Waste plastics get added to an asphalt mix to create strong, long-lasting, pothole free roads. CEO Toby McCartney first came up with the idea when he remembered a trip he took to India where he saw locals filling potholes with plastic waste and burning it to fix them. Cumbria is the first UK council to adopt this method and MacRebur hopes that others will follow suit (source: BBC YouTube).

Coal is the main offender of global warming and as the world’s top source for electricity (source: USA Today), it’s something that needs to be looked at. Dr Ahmed Osman, a researcher at the Queen’s University Belfast has discovered that leftover barley from alcohol breweries can be transformed into carbon which could be used as a renewable fuel to heat homes in the winter or as a replacement for BBQ charcoal. Around 3.4 million tonnes of unspent grain is wasted in breweries across the EU every year. That’s the equivalent weight of 500,000 elephants! In his research Dr Osman used just 1kg of grain and created enough activated carbon to spread across 100 football pitches (source: Queen’s University Belfast). Could waste grain be the future for heating our homes?

 

What recycling solutions are big brands adopting?

 

Consistently ranked as the top soft drink brand in the world, Coca-Cola is a key global player in the beverage industry with a brand value of over 71 billion U.S. dollars (source: Statista). Being such a well-known brand comes with great responsibility to be seen to operate in a sustainable manner when it comes to the manufacturing of products. With over 200 bottling partners worldwide, it’s possibly no surprise the Coca-Cola Company has been named the world’s worst offender for plastic pollution. As of 2020, the company produced 2,900,000 metric tonnes of plastic packaging annually (source: Forbes), but what’s important here is that the company is taking responsibility for its actions and is making the move to curb its plastic waste, creating a recycling solution for the future.

In February 2021, Coca-Cola announced that it’s trialling its first paper bottle in a bid to eliminate plastic from its packaging entirely. The prototype is made from an extra-strong paper shell that still contains a very thin layer of plastic, but the goal is to eventually make the bottle 100% plastic free (source: BBC News). The challenge Coca-Cola is facing is to find a material that can sustain the effects of the carbonated drink inside, preventing gas from escaping. The packaging also needs to ensure that the drink is not affected by any material flaking off inside. After all, the taste and quality of the product is what Coca-Cola is known for.

Since Coca-Cola has announced its goal to produce zero waste by 2030, other global leaders have followed in its footsteps. In July 2021, leading consumer goods company Procter & Gamble (P&G) unveiled its first paper bottle for fabric softener Lenor which will be piloted in Western Europe in 2022. P&G is using this as a ‘test and learn’ trial with the aim to scale up paper packaging across its wider portfolio (source: Packaging Europe). We are pleased to see such influential companies putting all their efforts into recycling solutions as like we’ve seen here, hopefully other brands will follow.

 

What is DCW doing to combat climate change?   

 

As a Zero to Landfill company, we are always looking at ways in which we can improve our carbon footprint. We collect waste from our customers in a single vehicle, reducing the number of journeys made and minimising CO2 emissions. Each time a bin is emptied, around 3.04k of CO2 is emitted, so collecting waste in a single bin rather than separating it into different containers also reduces CO2 emissions.   

In January 2020, we launched our Circular Economy Scheme to customers which aims to improve the rates of recycling in the South West. If customers opt-in to the scheme, they help us improve the quality of recycling by separating their waste at the source. With help from our customers, this will allow us to increase our recycling rate to 94%.

This summer, we’ve taken an extra step towards achieving a more circular economy and reducing fossil fuel emissions by launching our recycled plastic outdoor furniture range. Our benches, fencing and decking are made entirely from 100% waste plastic collected from businesses based in the South West. A sustainable alternative to timber, the products are maintenance free, long-lasting, weatherproof, will not rot, splinter or corrode or ever require painting or creosoting. Click here to find out more.

DCW offers recycling services for a variety of waste types to businesses in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset plus to businesses who have sites nationwide. Take a positive step towards combatting the effects of global warming and switch to a Zero to Landfill company today. Call the team on 01392 690192 or email sales@dcw.co.uk.

Scroll to Top