Waste plagues modern economies, with resources wasted during manufacture, logistics and shipping, and during and after product use. Traditionally, “waste” was considered any resources that companies did not need to create and process their product. We see examples in a range of industries, from furniture manufacturers who produce sawdust and wood chips after woodcuts, which can be used for products and processes in other industries, to food waste from cafeterias and restaurants that can be repurposed as raw ingredients.
The shift to circularity challenges companies to look at what was once considered “waste” with a new lens, and develop strategies to reuse these materials, byproducts and resources to maximize usage in their own operation or in another’s. Defined as REcover in the circular economy, it is “turning by-products into new ones or adding recycled content to products and packaging,” REcover is all about recovering every resource possible to reduce what is disposed of as waste. The potential for REcover strategies to help address major environmental issues and businesses is tremendous. Consider this example:
- Reduce single-use plastic pollution in oceans - Over 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year. Stakeholders are working to create demand for recycled plastics for use in the rapidly-growing electronics sector.
In addition to contributing to the resolution of critical environmental issues, REcover strategies also offer companies more immediate business benefits such as reduced cost, waste, and new revenue streams.
A few simple questions can help you open the door to discovering areas where recovery may be possible.
- Is there unused byproduct from your operation that could be used elsewhere in your business or in another operation?
- Could you source feedstocks from the byproduct of another company/operation?
- How could you redesign products to make their components more easily recoverable?
- What processes could you use to recover waste from your products?
Are you considering ways to maximize the use of existing materials and resources? From reduced expense associated with waste disposal, to risk mitigation in your supply chain, REcover strategies are a good first step on the path to circularity. To explore more possibilities for achieving circularity, see how UL helps businesses get started on circular economy initiatives.