Packaging producers, and businesses that use large quantities of packaging, will always be under scrutiny when it comes to their green credentials.

Ever-growing environmental pressures mean the requirement to recycle greater volumes, and more varied types, of plastic packaging is only going to become more onerous.

Add to this the increasingly important issue of secure destruction, minimising the risk of product counterfeiting, and it’s clear that producers need to keep their recycling knowledge sharp. So how do you make your waste work for you financially, environmentally and also from a reputational point of view?

Staying ahead

It’s our experience that companies tend to stay with one recycling provider for many years for reasons of pragmatism. In other words, if someone is already taking care of the problem, let them get on with it.

But in doing so, many producers aren’t getting best value for their waste, and worse still, they could be breaching regulations or putting their customers at risk.

Technology moves so fast that some producers are not aware that some previously hard-to-process materials can now be recycled. We see educating plastic producers on the increasingly broad range of recyclable material as a socially responsible activity. Raising awareness not only generates demand for us, it drives significant business efficiencies for manufacturers and producers, while helping to build the UK’s low-carbon circular economy.

For example, we’ve invested heavily in plant and machinery that can handle significant volumes of label matrix waste, diverting this from landfill and incineration. We convert this plastic waste into quality reprocessed plastic compound, which is sold back to the plastics industry for use in a wide range of products.

Not only does this have a significant cost reduction for producers in them not having to pay for their waste to be sent to landfill, it creates a revenue stream by allowing the producer to sell on their waste for reprocessing. It’s an ideal solution for companies working towards a zero-waste-to-landfill objective.

We pay producers industry leading prices for their plastic waste. Although we deal principally in polypropylene, we also handle other polymers in all formats including LDPE, HDPE, ABS and HIPS. Another advantage to producers is that we pay quickly. In most cases immediate payment is available compared to an industry average of 60-90 days.

Keeping it secure

Furthermore, producers can rest assured their waste isn’t falling into the wrong hands. It is being reprocessed in the UK, in line with environmental regulations and at an Environment Agency accredited site, giving traceability and accountability.

This gives vital security and peace of mind for those producing material that is prone to counterfeiting and where packaging could unwittingly end up in the possession of criminal gangs who pass off faulty or dangerous products as the real thing.

We see it as our duty to make producers aware of technical progress, and how they can benefit from recycling a consistently expanding range of waste materials. That’s why we work with producers as a genuine partner, providing environmental consultancy where needed.

A true partnership

As part of this education process, we meet businesses to understand their issues, assess their waste value and agree timeframes. We present our solution, along with an evaluation of how it will affect operational activity, and suggest appropriate changes. We then implement a pilot scheme and, once agreed, ensure the process is kept on track.

Sometimes recycling issues are more concerned with volume. If relatively low volume means the waste isn’t worthy of collection for the producer, we will put in place a skip or container that enables the business to segregate the low volume waste. In this way, we provide a clean and effective environment to separate the waste in a way that adheres to fire, safety and wasteregulations.

Making recycling a seamless operation is important to us and to this end we operate a fleet of vehicles with specially-trained drivers. They will collect roll-on/roll-off skips, curtain-sided trailers and other containers, as part of a solution to widen the recycling stream still further.

We’re working with a range of businesses with a vested interest in finding value in their waste and turning it into resources. These are genuinely symbiotic relationships and the broader the waste streams we can recycle, the greater the benefits to all stakeholders.

Chris Johnston is business manager at Preston Plastics