What Effect Is The Circular Economy Having On The Paper Industry?

As we become more mindful of our actions, we are choosing more suitable and environmentally friendly paper solutions while trying to minimise our use plastic.

This is likely to impact the paper industry in many different ways. When we consider all the different ways we use paper for, there is a huge amount to evolve into the circular economy. We will no longer be a throw-away society. 

Let’s look at how the circular economy and the paper industry are going to impact each other:

What is the Circular Economy? 

The circular economy is the idea that we can create products that do not end up in a landfill.

Instead, we ditch the linear approach of making something and then throwing it away. Instead, it’s replaced with making something, repurposing it and then reusing the materials again. Consequently, it minimises waste and allows for more sustainable use of resources.

What effect is it having on the paper industry? 

A change to how we approach manufacturing is obviously going to impact the industry. However, this new economic model works alongside businesses. Therefore, we can look at how the circular economy affects the paper industry in both positive and negative ways.

Changing designs

By designing the packaging for recycling and reuse, the design of materials would have to change. As we’re moving away from plastic, more pressure is on cardboard and paper packaging. The EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive sets the percentage of packaging that must be recycled to 65% by 2020. Therefore, the paper industry has to think about redesigning their products. Not only this but how to close the circular loop every step of the way. 

Using different materials

By aiming to make the materials recyclable or reusable, the right materials are vital. Therefore the paper industry needs to invest in changing the makeup of their products. In addition, it must still be cost-effective and economical.

It might even be the case that the paper industry will have to adapt to a high cost of materials. Not only this, but they might have to consider new ways to deal with the by-products of production. 

In some cases, other manufacturing processes can use industry by-products. The great thing about the pulp and paper industry is that it is from a renewable source. Trees will continuously grow. Making paper also increases the viability of the material for fuel. For example, weight-for-weight you can get more energy-burning paper than you would from wood. 

Increasing innovation

The great thing about paradigm shifts in industries is that it opens a whole new opportunity for innovation.

Whether it’s creating new materials or researching into smart packaging – there are opportunities for the industry to make a break-though. It can change the way we live our lives. Innovation can be the difference between creating packaging that allows 100 items to be transported and 1000 items to be transported. 

Although the paper industry will see the innovation initially as costly, investing in research and technology can help save money. Even simply reducing the size of the packaging in relation to what it’s holding can make a difference. 

Shaping infrastructure

There is no doubt that moving towards the circular economy is going to impact the paper industry infrastructure. Manufacturing will streamline and by-products collected. The infrastructure currently used to bury waste will need repurposing as there will, hopefully, be less need for it. 

Education

The paper industry and stakeholders will need to increase the knowledge and understanding within the workforce. Educating the public will also improve the uptake of the new packaging. Often consumers end up picking the cheapest option. Education shows that recycled and reusable packaging and paper not only meets CSR targets but doesn’t compromise on quality and usability. 

Circular economy and paper industry

The circular economy aims to benefit the paper industry. There will be some initial hurdles and costs. However, it means that as a consumer, we can choose the best companies to provide the most environmentally friendly packaging. It’s obvious that we’re going to run out of landfill space. With countries like China no longer accepting our rubbish, we need to come up with solutions on the ground.

Therefore, moving from a linear to a circular business pattern allows us to close the loop and cut out waste and resources loss.

5 Circular Economy Benefits You Need To Know About

Have you ever opened the box of your latest online purchase and discovered that it’s mostly empty space? Where do the materials for latest gadget come from? Would you be okay with having a landfill near your house? 

We no longer live in a linear world. Before, we’d make a product, use it and then send it to landfill. Now it’s got life after use! In a circular fashion, the product can be repurposed back into something useful. This saves money on the next generation of products and cuts out the harmful repercussions of vast amounts of landfill. So, lets get onto some circular economy benefits.

It helps your planet!

Firstly, it shouldn’t come to a surprise that putting all our rubbish in the ground isn’t good for our environment. When it’s all compacted down under the soil, all the oxygen is squashed out. Without oxygen, the microbes that thrive in the ground are anaerobic, meaning they respire without oxygen. 

When they begin to break down the rubbish, they release methane as a by-product of living. Methane is one of the more potent greenhouse gases responsible for the unnatural warming of the earth. Therefore, by avoiding sending waste to landfill, you’re avoiding contributing to the climate crisis.

Not only this but think of all the harmful chemicals that would be in your waste. Old mobile phones contain toxic metals. Bottles of old cleaning materials contain dangerous chemicals. Plastic packaging breaks down enough to be soluble. As a consequence, when rainwater moves through the landfill, it filters into the water that we drink. Therefore, it’s a health hazard. 

Raw materials are finite 

Secondly, have you ever thought about where the materials for your latest purchase come from? Some materials, such as metal and plastic, are from raw materials in the ground. If we chuck them away without reusing them, it’s a waste of these resources. Plastic is made from oil and oil is becoming more scarce.

As a consequence, miners are taking more risks to find it. This often included destroying forests or polluting the land and sea. Reusing sources is clearly a no-brainer!

Opens up jobs and innovation

Not only does the circular economy help your environment, but it brings economic benefits too. By opening up a whole sector dedicated to the recycling and reuse of waste materials, we create thousands of jobs. 

Also, we must create solutions for a circular economy. By encouraging the reuse and recycling of our waste, we are encouraging innovation. Have you ever heard of the ‘David Attenborough Effect’? It is when David Attenborough’s TV documentaries make people talk about the environment. Now, people are demanding an explanation as to why we aren’t investing in the circular economy to save our environment. 

Improves relationships 

Recently, China put its foot down and refused to take our rubbish. For years, we’d been shipping waste plastic overseas because we couldn’t cope with it. China themselves are struggling to save their own environment and took the step to save themselves from more tragedy. Therefore, it’s becoming more important for the UK and countries alike, to deal with their own waste. By pledging to move into a circular economy, they are stepping up to tackle problems head-on!

Saves money

From growing and cutting down trees to manufacturing it into cardboard, the process is costly. However, if the cardboard is already made, we can reprocess it back into useful cardboard. As a consequence, it reduces the number of trees cut down and the amount of manufacturing in the process. Less manufacturing, less cost. Don’t forget – less landfill too! 

A landfill is expensive. Each year, councils across the UK have a landfill allowance. One council alone can spend up to £4 million in landfill tax. And this excludes the cost of building one! Not only this but fines of £150 occur for every tonne of biodegradable waste (waste that breaks down easily like food) over their allowance.  Every year this allowances reduces to meet UK Government targets, the allowance can be as much as 100,000 tonnes. It’s not that hard to see how much it would cost a council in fines to go over by even just one percent. 

Finally, another example of how to save money is by repurposing waste food. Over 1.9 million tonnes of food ends up in the bin in the UK each year. If we stopped food from going to landfill, we could save food and money. We could give food to those who haven’t got any. In addition to this, waste can go into making pet food. Not only this but a process called ‘Anaerobic Digestion’ can make energy from this waste. 

Circular Economy Benefits

The possibilities really are endless. With so many innovations, it’s a wonder why more people aren’t adopting the circular economy approach. We’re doing our bit by ensuring all our packaging is capable of being reused and recycled. We have clear labelling and offer advice to our customers on saving money and materials. So if you want to find out more about our approach to a circular economy, get in touch. 

Reduce Packaging With These Simple Fixes

If you operate an e-commerce business, packaging is something you can’t avoid but reducing packaging is becoming even more important .  Whether you’re sending your products onto suppliers or onto consumers, it has to be packaged in a way that keeps the goods inside safe and secure until they reach their final destination.   So can reducing packaging work?

The risk here is that, in an effort to make sure your product doesn’t get damaged in transit, you use too much packaging which can end up costing you money that you would much rather see going to your bottom line.

In manufacturing, Forbes magazine identified packaging as one of the three best ways to cut costs, and the same applies if your business is online.  How, though, do you reduce the amount of packaging you use? Here we look at some six simple fixes for reducing the packaging your business uses.

  • Review your packaging

Before you start to reduce your packaging, you need to know just how much you use.  Look back over the past three or six months and work out how much packaging you used – and how much you spent on it.  

Then, look at how much packaging you keep in reserve and whether any of it has been sitting there for more than a month; if it has, it probably means you don’t need it. Don’t forget to look at additional packaging material such as bubble wrap too.  

  • Decide on the packaging you need

Take a look at the goods you sell and decide what type of packaging is best when it comes to shipping. If you sell clothes, for example, mailing bags may be better than boxes and probably won’t need much, if any, additional packaging materials to keep them damage free.  

You might need to use additional packaging materials for fragile items, which will also most likely need to be shipped in cardboard boxes.  As well as the material, consider the size. If you ship smaller items, you won’t need big boxes; if you ship items in bulk, you will.

Finally, think about how you store goods in your warehouse. Do you use cardboard boxes for these that are then discarded? Can they be replaced with reusable plastic crates?  These not only reduce the packaging you use (internally) but reduce your costs (though there may be an additional initial outlay).

  • Only buy what you need

Once you know what packaging you need, work out how much stock you think you’ll be shipping and buy just enough to cover these sales. This way, you won’t be left having paid for packaging you don’t need, and you won’t be tempted to over-pack an item.  

Better yet, consider investing in a system such as Right Size that lets you customise your packaging to perfectly fit the items you’re shipping and create exactly the number of boxes you need at any given time.

  • Cut back on additional packaging

One of the best things about systems such as Ribble Right Size is that they allow you to cut down on additional packaging.  The same applies if you buy boxes that are as close in size to the products you want to ship. This is harder if you buy in bulk because you can end up with too many boxes that aren’t a good fit, meaning you’re much more likely to use boxes that are too big and fill up any empty space with bubble wrap or packaging peanuts.

  • Change your mindset

Using the right sized-packaging and reducing the amount of additional packaging material aren’t difficult changes to make but they could well mean you need to change the way you work.  The same applies to your employees too. So, while it might be quicker and easier to reach for the first available box when preparing an item for shipping, instead, you’ll need to look for the box that best fits the product.  

  • Reuse and recycle

Think about how you can reuse packaging too.  Can used packaging paper be shredded and used as packaging material, for example, or can boxes used by customers to return items be reused when you send out your next order?

By taking these simple steps, you’ll be able to not only reduce the amount of packaging you use but cut your operational costs (including warehouse space and transportation).  You’ll also be reducing the amount of waste going to landfill and your carbon footprint, both of which are good for not only the planet but your reputation.

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