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Have you heard of the waste hierarchy? It is a system used to rank waste management options according to what is best for the environment. It gives top priority to preventing waste in the first place. When waste is created, it gives priority to preparing it for re-use, then recycling, then recovery, and last of all disposal:
(A) Reduce - (B) Reuse - (C) Recycling - (D) Energy - (E) Incineration - (F) Landfill.
Today's throwaway culture means that too many items are created in the first place, so the much coveted 'reduce' and 'reuse' is not fully within our grasp. But thankfully, there are signs of a change in the tide! The #RefillRevolution is gaining momentum.
Zero waste refill shops are starting to pop up in towns across the country (and across the globe). Their aim: to help make zero waste shopping easy.
At present, it is largely limited to small, independent retailers, who invite you to bring your own containers to fill up with a wide range of product (they also provide sustainable containers, which you can purchase if you don't bring your own). Online stores are also starting to pop up, such as https://www.refillroom.com, which offer plastic free shopping using the same model.
Here at J&B Recycling, we are hugely enthusiastic about the environment, but as waste management experts, we want to add a word of caution.
Whilst we are confident that the majority (if not all) of the small, independent retailers are fully committed to sourcing sustainable packaging for their products, we have concerns about how this will be translated for the mass market. We already see issues in large supermarkets, where products that were previously sold in plastic bottles or glass jars (e.g. cleaning products, washing liquid and coffee) have been replaced with 'refill pouches'. They are marketed as being 'environmental friendly', but in fact most of these 'pouches' can not be recycled (check the labels - it might surprise you)! So we have moved away from plastic and glass packaging, which is highly recyclable... to packaging that is non-recyclable. This isn't better for the environment!
Another word of caution is that some products are packaged to keep the ingredients fresher for longer. If not packaged properly, we could again be creating more waste as products perish quicker so will not be consumed.
Recycling is more widespread than ever, which is great, but manufacturers still don't fully understand the process and, as highlighted above, packaging and products continue to be created unnecessarily, that can't be recycled (or that could be reduced).
We would urge everyone to get onboard with the #RefillRevolution and help reduce the amount of waste created in the first place, especially non-recyclable waste. Join the RefillRevolution. BUT please educate yourself about the recycling process first so that you understand how all elements of your waste are processed!! You could start by checking out our knowledge base, which will be developing further in the coming months.
If it worth noting that here at J&B Recycling, as well as managing recycling waste, we do also manage general waste. Whilst we can't prevent waste creation, we can manage waste that is created responsibly. Our focus is maximising recycling and minimising waste to landfill and in the majority of cases we offer a "Zero Waste to Landfill" solution. Our advanced waste management facilities ensure we save our customers money, time and hassle, whilst maximising a positive impact on the environment.