Jun 19, 2019

Giving recycling some welly! Why all brands should take responsibility for end-of-life solutions

Words by Sarah Welsh

As we welcome our first-ever consumer recycling brand collaboration – with Hunter wellies – it’s a good time to reflect on how businesses can, and should, take responsibility for dealing with the waste created at the end of their products’ usable life.

With one eye firmly on sustainability agenda, Hunter has already taken the decision to remove PVC from their manufacturing process, tackling the issue of plastic waste head – or should that be foot – on.

But now the company has taken their commitment to the planet one step further, by partnering with First Mile to provide a recycling solution. Customers can either post back their old boots – via a cost-free postal Recycle Box service sponsored by Hunter - or drop them into their flagship Regent Street store in London for recycling.

Once received or collected by First Mile, these old boots are sent to our processing partner, Endurmeta, where they are shredded and ground down before being repurposed into playground and horse arena surfacing, kickboxing bags and floor fillers.

As well as saving wellies from landfill, the process also saves three tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of recycled rubber, compared to using virgin rubber.

We’ve all seen brands becoming increasingly sustainable in their products’ manufacturing, with many making the effort to include recycled and/or recyclable content, but Hunter’s actions take this one step further and it’s a move that should be applauded and replicated.

Simply telling a customer that an item can be recycled “where facilities exist” no longer cuts the mustard as we all strive to protect our planet. Brands need to be at forefront of innovation, proactively seeking uses for their product materials’ second life.

And where products contain non-recyclable material, companies need to be prepared to either amend their manufacturing process to ensure a sustainable end-of-life solution exists, or go back to the drawing board and reconsider their design. It’s not as scary as it seems – First Mile offers consultation for brands on the design of products to ensure that such solutions are possible.

We’re genuinely excited by the potential of our partnership with Hunter, which you can read more about here. In the meantime, if you’re an environmentally-conscious brand looking to offer customers a post-back recycle service for your products, we’d love to hear from you. Email partnerships@thefirstmile.co.uk

By Sarah Welsh

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