These days we’re all looking for ways to be more sustainable, and recycling is an easy way to tick that box. However, what happens when you have items that are can’t easily be recycled?
In a bid to help the nation overcome its stagnating recycling rate (45% across the UK and a meagre 33% in London), in early 2019, First Mile opened the doors to its RecycleLab.
As a leading waste and recycling company, we continually look for new recycling solutions for different materials on behalf of businesses and consumers, particularly with the onslaught of new material inventions. Indeed, two of the leading barriers to increasing recycling rates are logistics (how to collect and send to a processor) and lack of recycling solution. The third is contamination which is usually a result of misunderstanding or attention to what material should go in which bin. The RecycleLab exists to overcome the first two.
Based at our sack sorting depot in North West London’s Park Royal, you will find tucked away in a corner of a warehouse, the UK’s first RecycleLab. It is here that we conduct research and find solutions for items that cannot easily be recycled through household or commercial waste streams, continually answering the question on many people’s lips… How can I recycle this?
Working with the RecycleLab
There are a number of ways in which all sorts of new, interesting and often tricky to recycle materials make their way to the First Mile RecycleLab.
- Solutions for brands to offer their consumers
With many brands wanting and needing to be more sustainable, particularly with the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility legislation, we partner with brands to provide end-of-life solutions for their products.
For example, we’ve teamed up with Hunter boots to turn their consumers’ worn wellies into horse and playground arena surfacing. We’ve also sorted out the logistics, enabling consumers to send their old wellies to our RecycleLab, where we bulk them, before sending them to our processing partner.
- Product and packaging consultancy
Navigating the onslaught of new materials that are available on the packaging market is no easy feat. Biodegradable, compostable, bioplastics, not to mention also sorts of complicated plastic acronyms… confusion is rife. With more and more brands wanting to supercharge their sustainability, but it becoming increasingly unclear on what the greenest solution is, First Mile provides a consultancy service to help.
We offer a B2B consultancy service to brands who are looking for solutions to their packaging or products with no obvious recycling solution. This process includes understanding barriers to the product and working with our partners to find the most economic and environmentally viable solution. We provide a report of our findings, along with a considered solution and recommendation.
Safe to say, the answer isn’t always straightforward, and occasionally our recommendation is to take a step back and reconsider what material the item is made of in the first place. For example, if the item was made from aluminium rather than a mix of different plastics, could it still be functional whilst being easier to recycle? We investigate and discuss all possible options to find the best solution.
- Solving consumer and business recycling conundrums
Through our RecycleBox service, people from across the nation send us materials that they can’t recycle. More often than not, these fall into one of our readily recyclable categories, such as coffee pods, coat hangers or corks.
However, sometimes there’s a material that we don’t yet have a solution for - and this is where we put our RecycleLab to work, searching for a sustainable recycling solution. We bulk a lot of these materials at our RecycleLab, collating enough materials to send to be processed before being given a new life.
It’s easy to see we’re more than just a waste and recycling company. We’re at the forefront of making recycling easy while working towards a sustainable circular economy. In a nutshell, the RecycleLab is a place to analyse and find viable recycling solutions to materials in order to avoid incineration and strive towards a zero-waste and circular economy vision. You can get in touch with us *here* to check out the RecycleBox and ask us questions about your products!
And what of the third barrier to recycling that we mentioned earlier? Educating the public and changing behaviour when it comes to recycling is something we work hard towards at First Mile. Download our recycling posters, contact us about a recycling workshop and follow our weekly tips and facts on social.