How businesses can take advantage of the circular economy
16th Nov 2023 Technology
4 min read
Many companies still send old equipment to landfill instead of recycling it. Reuse expert Ramco explains the value of the circular economy for businesses
Over the last five years, the second-hand market has boomed.
Charity shop income is up more than 15 per cent this year according to The Charity Retail Association. In just eighteen months, Vinted is already exceeding Primark’s number of cashless transactions. eBay’s partnership with ITV’s Love Island reached new audiences with its second-hand message showing that one person’s trash really is another’s treasure.
Despite this, businesses have been much slower off the mark when it comes to buying and selling second-hand.
New research from reuse expert, Ramco, reveals that one in five UK organisations needlessly scrap fully functioning equipment instead of finding new homes for it. Why? Because they don’t see the value in unwanted items.
When you throw things away, there is no "away"
The UK is striving to reach its net-zero goal—this is the government’s commitment to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 100 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.
For that to happen, businesses need to take action and make changes to be more sustainable.
Making sure items that they no longer need are re-used rather than being scrapped or sent to landfill is a good way to do this. Businesses can generate vital funds and save on storage space, whilst also reducing emissions and contributing to the circular economy.
What is the circular economy?
But what does contributing to the circular economy actually mean? According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, the circular economy is a system where materials never become waste and nature is regenerated. It promotes reuse wherever possible.
Extending a product’s lifespan minimises the need to create new ones, which reduces the damaging carbon emissions produced during manufacture. It also cuts waste by giving new life to things that would otherwise be thrown away.
"Shiny new kit is exciting, but outgoing equipment that’s no longer wanted still holds so much value"
Even though the business case for reusing equipment is clear, many organisations still overlook the value that surplus items might hold.
“We’re in the midst of a climate crisis and yet UK businesses are still running in a way that causes so much unnecessary waste," says Neil Sanderson, managing director and founder of Ramco.
"Shiny new kit is exciting, but outgoing equipment that’s no longer wanted still holds so much value. With careful consideration, it can go on to realise its full potential with a new owner."
A mission to end wastefulness for good
Having left school at 16, Sanderson went to work at his family’s engineering company. It was there he realised how much goes into making new products—the raw materials, energy, labour, transport and much more. When we throw things away too soon, all that precious resource is lost.
Ramco is here to change that. For more than 27 years, they’ve been on a mission to find new homes for unwanted items, urging businesses to see the value in their surplus assets and extend their lifecycle.
Sending items to landfill is a low effort option for businesses
Their new study, conducted by independent researchers Censuswide, reveals that nearly half of businesses that send items to scrap or landfill do this because it’s a low effort option.
It also shows organisations spend almost double the time considering the purchase of new equipment as they do getting rid of the kit they no longer need.
Shockingly, the findings further show that nearly a third (31 per cent) of senior managers in the UK who send unwanted items to scrap or landfill say that being more sustainable is not a priority for their organisation.
"Nearly half of businesses that send items to scrap or landfill do this because it’s a low effort option"
Sanderson says that action is needed and businesses must take accountability for extending the life of their unwanted equipment.
“We’re urging businesses to place the same value on the sustainable management of outgoing equipment as on the procurement of new items," he says. "Contributing to the circular economy can help the business and more importantly, reduce emissions.”
A small change can make a huge impact
But with 70 per cent of organisations in the UK letting work equipment sit idle without realising its value, the majority of businesses are missing out on saving carbon emissions and generating a financial return.
Making small changes to your business could have a big impact. Reuse expert Ramco suggests starting off by nominating someone to be responsible for sustainably managing the outgoing equipment to help establish clear accountability.
Once you’ve appointed this person or team, it’s a good idea to do a stock take of assets no longer in use and review what items you’re looking to rehome.
"Organisations need to embrace the circular economy"
If you’re an individual looking to give your belongings a new lease of life, you might want to have a look at local selling pages or ask people around you—you’d be surprised how many people might need something that’s no longer of use for you.
For organisations, it’s best to reach out to professional disposal organisations, such as Ramco, who can help you assess your assets and find new homes for them.
Neil concludes: “With the cost of doing business continuing to rise, now is the perfect time to sell redundant assets, save on storage costs, generate financial return and, most importantly, reduce emissions.
"Organisations need to embrace the circular economy, find the value in their surplus assets and help end wastefulness for good.”
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