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Circular Economy

What is a circular economy?

Devon Contract Waste wants to reduce the environmental impact of its plastic production and consumption in the South West. As businesses, we all have a responsibility to act and ensure a cleaner and greener environment for the future. Since January 2020, we have been inviting new and existing customers to opt-in to our new Circular Economy Scheme. But why are we introducing the scheme, and what does it mean for your business?

As a society, we have evolved to live in a linear economy – which means that we ‘take, make and dispose’. Instead of repairing or reusing resources, we often opt to replace broken or unfit items and dispose of the unwanted products to landfill.

Every time we do this, we are eating into resources and the disposal of household, office, and commercial rubbish often means we also create toxic waste which can end up in the sea. The world collectively generates at least 3.5 million tonnes of waste per day, and that figure is only set to rise. [Source: National Geographic]  Put simply – it is not a sustainable way of living, and we need to change.

The average office worker will use a staggering 10,000 sheets of paper per year, which might come as a surprise as more businesses are shifting to digital platforms. It is important to manage this waste effectively, to ensure the paper is recycled for re-use. One of the easiest and simplest ways to improve the quality of your recycling and help the environment, is by separating your recycling at source. Under the new DCW Circular Economy Scheme, if all waste is separated, we have a better opportunity for recycling.

Previously, DCW customers have disposed of their rubbish as mixed waste. New quality control measures mean that recycling commercial waste in a mixed recycling container or sack on average results in only a 44% recycle rate. By separating our recycling at source, we can dramatically improve the quality of our recycling by 94% – that’s 50% more recycling that we can achieve through the DCW Circular Economy Scheme.

According to Plastic Ocean, we produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic alone per year, and shockingly, more than 8 million tonnes of that will end up in the ocean. Perhaps more shocking is that 50% of plastic produced is single use only. We are seeing some progress – in a bid to cut down on single use plastic waste; leading UK retailer Tesco recently announced it would eliminate 67 million pieces of plastic by removing the plastic-wrap used on tinned multipack food [Source: Tesco].

While major retailers are taking a step in the right direction by generating less plastic waste, it is not going to fully solve our plastic problem – we still need to think about how we responsibly dispose of our waste. We also operate DCW Polymers – a plastic processing site, and a paper processing plant just outside Plymouth. These centres recycle and produce high quality recycled plastic and paper which can be used in UK manufacturing, reducing the miles the materials travel to be processed, and creating jobs here in the South West – providing a sustainable closed loop for higher value resources.

All DCW customers can register on a voluntary basis to participate in the new Circular Economy Scheme, whereby they sort their waste into separate bags for tin/cans, plastic bottles and poly, and paper (magazines and newspapers etc) to help increase the amount of their waste that can be recycled. Clients with larger volumes of clean poly/shrink wrap or cardboard can deposit it in the bin as it is. DCW will collect the waste from the bins provided in the usual way.

We want to create a sustainable future and adopting a circular economy will help us to achieve this. To find out more about the DCW Circular Economy Scheme or to opt-in, simply call the DCW team on 01392 361300 or email

To view the full DCW Circular Economy Scheme brochure, please click here.

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