Circular economy champions: Guest post by Reuseabox

Most companies think recycling is the best way to be more environmentally conscious. The words reuse and recycling sometimes even get used interchangeably. But to reuse or recycle something involves two very different processes with different environmental impacts.

The Truth About Recycling

It’s a common misconception that recycling is good for the planet. Although recycling is important, the process itself has a huge environmental impact. It’s easy to pop that plastic bottle in the recycling bin and forget about it. Out of sight, out of mind. But according to Greenpeace, less than 10% of the plastic we produce is recycled with most of it ending up in landfill or being incinerated.

But what about the materials that do get recycled?

Cardboard is one of the most widely recycled materials. It’s also biodegradable and for this reason, many people consider it to be an eco-friendly packaging solution.

What many people don’t realise is that cardboard can’t be recycled infinitely. Each time it gets recycled, the fibres get stretched which affects the quality. To counteract this problem, most manufacturers add a percentage of new pulp into the mix. This means even more trees need to be felled to turn a cardboard box back into another cardboard box.

If this wasn’t bad enough the recycling process is incredibly water and energy intensive. Around 150,000 litres of water and 4,000 kw/h of energy is needed to recycle just 1 tonne of cardboard.

Reuse Before You Recycle

When you have eliminated unnecessary packaging, the solution is to reuse products and materials as much as possible before they’re recycled.

In industry, reusable crates, pallets, and containers are popular. There are also many businesses dedicated to reuse such as refill stores.

Did you know you can also Reuse Cardboard Boxes through Reuseabox? When you choose to reuse instead of buy new boxes, you can drastically reduce your environmental impact. Every tonne of reused cardboard saves around 5 trees, 148,000 litres of water, half a tonne of carbon and 4,000 kw/h of energy.

Consider the Circular Economy

The Circular Economy System Diagram (known as the butterfly diagram) shows the continuous flow of materials in a circular economy. In the technical cycle, products and materials are kept in use through processes such as reuse, repair, remanufacture and recycling. The smaller inner loops show where more of the value of a product can be captured.

For example, it’s better to reuse a smartphone rather than take it apart and try to recycle its parts. When you recycle the parts, you lose the energy and time taken to produce the product. Looking at the butterfly diagram, it’s clear that recycling is one of the last things we should think about when looking at our waste management systems.

To find out more about cardboard reuse, contact Reuseabox.

cardboard re-use statistics