Recover, Reuse, Recycle

Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn
It’s no secret companies are keen to show they’re acting in a responsible manner to protect the environment. Recycling is part of most companies’ corporate and social responsibility ethos, and it makes for great PR. However, there is also a compelling business case for recycling. Increasingly stringent  legislation is forcing companies to recycle more and landfill costs are rocketing. In West London for example, the current charge for every tonne of commercial waste thrown into landfill is £190 and this could increase to £500 per tonne year within the next five years. The key policies document issued by the new coalition government makes it clear that there will be no let-up in the focus on environmental issues. Octink, the Brentford-based display specialist and finalist in the 2010 Exhibition News awards, generates on average 20-25 tonnes of waste each month. Until recently, this waste originated from factory production and signage/displays collected at the end of their use, on behalf of clients, from building sites, hoardings, events and exhibitions.  Before Octink started its recycling scheme, all this waste was sent to landfill. The company’s management team, led by chief executive Will Tyler, had been thinking for some time about alternative ways of dealing with waste, both to lessen the impact on the environment and to reduce costs. So when the company was approached by Robert Horne, a supplier of paper, board and plastics with an offer to buy and help recycle Octink’s waste, the offer was immediately accepted and became the beginning of Octink’s new ‘Recycle-Recover-Re-use’ programme. Putting the plan into action The plan was implemented very quickly. “It took a couple of months of hard planning to prepare for recycling, but everything has gone smoothly since we started,” says operations director Brad Candy. “We installed 12 large waste cages at the premises to pre-sort waste into different types of material, which are then collected and taken away for recycling.” Additional compacting machines were bought in order to maximise the amount of waste that could be held in each cage, which reduced the number of collections and therefore costs. On the first day the scheme was launched, installers returning to Octink’s premises with clients’ waste were greeted by Octink factory staff in Eco Warrior jackets. “Two years ago our staff were sceptical about introducing recycling. This was a fun way of drawing attention to what we were doing,” adds Candy. “Attitudes have changed hugely since then. Being more aware of the environment and costs is ingrained in all of us. Now, our team in the factory even turn off the lights and computers when they go to lunch,” he adds. The costs However, while being green-minded in disposing of waste makes for plenty of goodwill and boosts a company’s PR, there is also a general assumption that this goodwill comes at a cost. Candy says this is not the case. For Octink, the positive impact on costs was immediate. “In early 2008, Octink was paying around £3,000 a month (£120 per tonne) to send around 25 tonnes of waste to landfill. In May 2008, the first month of recycling, Octink recycled 56 per cent of its waste, saving almost £1,700. It cost only about £6,000 to set up the scheme, which represented mainly the cost of additional wheelie bins and compacting machines. Taking the scheme up a level As the scheme progressed, Octink recycled on average at least 66 per cent of waste each month; at times reaching as high as 75 per cent. “There’s a misconception that being green has to cost money,” says chief executive of Octink, Will Tyler. “Admittedly, some recyclable materials used in signage are more expensive, but the savings in landfill costs more than compensate for this.” The trick, says Tyler, is planning ahead. “At an early stage, we encourage our customers to consider using recyclable signage materials. We also identify like-minded contractors who will help us find new recycling solutions. We want to show our customers that, with a little planning, recycling the massive amounts of waste generated by events can be easy, affordable and even profitable.” Octink is now taking its recycling policy a stage further by working with suppliers to help further its recycling policies, actively seeking clients willing to use display materials that can be recycled. Recyclable materials may be slightly more expensive, Octink estimates around 10 per cent higher, but this cost is more than offset by the savings in landfill costs. The future There is a limit to the level of waste that companies can recycle each month. Certain materials that cannot be recycled, such as PVC banner material. Changes in legislation, constantly affect what can be recycled. For example, timber that has been painted can no longer be recycled. So companies are finding more creative ways to re-use materials that either cannot be recycled or where it is uneconomic to do so. For example, Octink donated PVC banners to the Electric Railway Museum in Coventry to help protect historic trains stored outside from the elements. It is also seeking to take recycling a stage further through ‘closed loop’ products, which means that signage and display material is re-made into new display material, instead of used for other products, closing the loop in the product cycle. Therefore a sign at The Chelsea Flower Show could re-appear the next year as signage in a different guise. A practice widely seen as the gold standard of recycling. It takes far less energy to make the transition from one product to another. So there’s food for thought, turning green into gold and still winning your company the plaudits and attention that accompanies a reputation for leaving as small a set of carbon footprints behind as possible.
Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Related Stories

Elsewhere on EN

Revenue rise for Ascential since IPO

Revenue rise for Ascential since IPO

Events and publishing group Ascential plc has had a ’a good year with strong organic growth’, driven by the launch of new products.
Record breaking 2016 for Event Marketing Solutions

Record breaking 2016 for Event Marketing Solutions

Global roadshow specialist Event Marketing Solutions (EMS) has announced a record-breaking financial year, with profits reaching £1.04m for the year ending December 2016.
VisitBritain launches new Business Events @ExploreGB event

VisitBritain launches new Business Events @ExploreGB event

VisitBritain has announced the launch of a one-day event, to promote Britain as a business events destination to international buyers.

CONFEX LIVE

Most read Stories

Building emerald cities

Building emerald cities

From Malaria to Blenheim, through to UBM, Jane Risby-Rose – the 20-year story of her yellow brick road industry journey.
5 top marketing tips from AEO Forums 2016

5 top marketing tips from AEO Forums 2016

Looking to the future and learning from the past at AEO Forums 2016.
2 Minutes with Sarah Mayo

2 Minutes with Sarah Mayo

Sarah Mayo, marketing director EMEA, Freeman and FreemanXP talks about her new role, playing golf with Westlife and the skills needed in our industry.

Latest News

Revenue rise for Ascential since IPO

Revenue rise for Ascential since IPO

Events and publishing group Ascential plc has had a ’a good year with strong organic growth’, driven by the launch of new products.
Record breaking 2016 for Event Marketing Solutions

Record breaking 2016 for Event Marketing Solutions

Global roadshow specialist Event Marketing Solutions (EMS) has announced a record-breaking financial year, with profits reaching £1.04m for the year ending December 2016.
VisitBritain launches new Business Events @ExploreGB event

VisitBritain launches new Business Events @ExploreGB event

VisitBritain has announced the launch of a one-day event, to promote Britain as a business events destination to international buyers.

Latest Galleries

100% Optical 2017

100% Optical 2017

More than 8,000 visitors arrived at ExCeL London on 4-6 February for the fourth edition of 100% Optical. The show featured more than 175,000 frames, catwalk performances and a comprehensive education programme.
Cumbria Flood Expo 2017

Cumbria Flood Expo 2017

The inaugural Cumbria Flood Expo, organised by flood emergency response charity CERT UK, took place on 2-3 February at Carlisle Racecourse.
Mexia Communications at 10

Mexia Communications at 10

PR and content marketing agency Mexia Communications celebrated its 10th anniversary with a Mexican Fiesta at the Royal College of Physicians on 26 January.

Latest Opinions

Good practice with data

Good practice with data

Simon Clayton, chief ideas officer at RefTech, on being open, transparent, and accurate about what you are doing with the data you handle.
Beware of the punter

Beware of the punter

Trevor Punt, managing director of TBG Group, on the rise of the stereotypical punter and the need for nerves of steel.
Peer to peer

Peer to peer

Will Broadfoot, director of Footfall Events & Marketing on unlocking exhibitor potential and improving participation.