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How does plastic recycling help businesses to achieve greater sustainability?

Last updated: 05-14-2021

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How does plastic recycling help businesses to achieve greater sustainability?

Reduce-reuse-recycle is more than just a catchy mantra, rather it can form the basis of an effective strategy for avoiding plastic waste. For businesses of all sizes, avoiding unnecessary plastics consumption and switching to reusable materials is an important step when working towards an environmentally friendly future.

75% of all plastic produced becomes waste, and less than 10% is recycled. Whilst plastic in landfill is a problem, up to a third of all plastic waste enters nature as land, freshwater or marine pollution, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose. There it is causing huge loss of biodiversity and harming human health.

Whilst some businesses can go plastic free this is not possible for others, and in those cases recycling of plastic is a key tool they can use in their approach to reducing their plastic impact. In the textile industry for example synthetic materials are sometimes needed for the functionality of products, such as technical fabrics. In the Grocery sector, food supply chains are currently depended on plastic packaging to prevent food waste. Until a sustainable and suitable alternative is developed, reusing and recycling these plastics effectively can help businesses to become more environmentally responsible. The good news is that the transition towards greater use of recycled plastics is picking up pace, as businesses realise the environmental and economic benefits of doing so. Adidas for example promised to use only recycled plastics in all their clothes and shoes by 2024.

But what exactly is recycling?

Recycling is simply the process of using materials that have already been used. What would otherwise be waste can either be converted into raw material for making new products or get transformed directly into a new product. The huge environmental benefit of recycling is that fewer virgin raw materials are needed for the manufacturing of new products. Furthermore, recycling reduces pollution that is caused by discarding or burning waste.

This is why recycling has become an integral part of many companies’ sustainability strategy. In order to ensure that corporate claims about the recycled content of products are accurate and up to date, third-party assurance in the form of a trusted certification has become crucial.

GRS (Global Recycled Standard) and RCS (Recycled Claim Standard) are highly respected and established standards that set requirements for third-party certification of recycled input and chain of custody. The goal of these standards is to increase the use of recycled materials in products.

The GRS in particular has become one of the most well-known and robust recycling standards worldwide. Recycled raw materials are tracked through the supply chain and social and environmental criteria are assessed during the audit and certification process for GRS certified products. Control Union originally developed the GRS standard back in 2008, then and passed it over to Textile Exchange in 2011 for ongoing management. Whilst GRS originated in the textile industry, it is growing in popularity in other industries such as packaging, automotive and electronics where it is also highly relevant.

“By changing plastics sourcing policy to incorporate the required amount of recycled plastics, businesses can achieve a significant reduction in toxins, energy consumption and CO2 emission. This is pragmatic way to reduce scope 3 emission. Furthermore, larger companies can increase their positive impact by leveraging their influence to encourage compliance with the standard across their supply chains. This is vital to their brand equity, as customers increasingly scrutinize the environmental impact of their purchases.”  

These standards encourage businesses to be conscious of plastic waste reduction during production processes and focus on resource efficiency. Certification against either GRS or RCS allows consumers to have faith that the business they are buying from is taking positive steps towards protecting the environment and reducing their plastic impact.

If you would like to find out more about certification against the GRS or RCS schemes, and how they could be of benefit to your organisation please get in touch on certifications@controlunion.com or +44 20 7488 2210. Alternatively sign up to our free webinar covering this and other plastic certifications, taking place on 19 May 2021.


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