Credible cash

Manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to use recycled materials in making their products, and it's not just to appease the conscience. Tim Duke reports

Manufacturers are changing their practices, and it is not simply because chief executives have strong environmental ethics.

They are doing this to gain a competitive edge by creating products with environmental credentials that consumers are starting to demand.

Organisations can reduce costs and increase profits, while demonstrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) and a commitment to making environmentally friendly products.

The key factor in this comes as no surprise: manufacturers are able to enter completely new markets, target new customers, retain existing customers and achieve paramount bottom-line benefits.

CSR Advisor for Aggregate Industries UK, Ben Vivian believes that CSR provides a framework to understand the business opportunities while reducing the impact on the environment. “Companies need to show they are responsible for their impact on the environment and start looking at ways to reduce the burden,” he says.

“Our customers are looking more and more for a range of green credentials in our products, and the market is likely to develop rapidly. Those that start now will be able to reap the early rewards.”

Project Manager for London Remade, Robin Snook is trying to inform manufacturers about the bottom-line benefits. He says: “We are extremely keen to see applications for support from a wide cross section of the business community. We want dialogues with manufacturers who are interested in increasing their product portfolio and creating much needed environmental products.”

Support for designers and manufacturers interested in using recycled materials is available through programmes such as Inspired Recycling, partly delivered through London Remade.

Inspired Recycling has been helping Andrew Lang Product Design, a commercial design and innovation business, take the multi-award-winning CYCLOC design from prototype to production. Andrew Lang approached Inspired Recycling with his innovative design for a cycle storage product, to get assistance in manufacturing the product from recycled plastic and to take CYCLOC to market.

The Inspired Recycling team discussed manufacturing challenges; developed a business plan; gave technical advice; introduced Andrew Lang to plastic recycling experts; helped fund the development of the design; and assisted with product tooling and promotion.

Andrew Lang believes that Inspired Recycling is a great initiative. “There is a strong and willing market for well considered, high-value products made from recycled materials,” he says. “Inspired Recycling is a resource that will help designers and manufacturers understand and address this.”

Inspired Recycling offers free help to firms willing to use recycled materials in their manufacturing. The EU-sponsored initiative, delivered through London Remade and WestFocus, engages entrepreneurs with new, commercially viable products. The aim is to turn rubbish into profit by diverting waste from landfill sites back into the production line.

London Remade also delivers the Mayor’s Green Procurement Code, launched in 2001, to assist London-based organisations in identifying opportunities to recycle waste and buy products manufactured from recycled materials.

Organisations signed up to the Mayor’s Green Procurement Code spent £188 million on recycled content products over the past 12 months – nine times more than the previous year. This demonstrates a huge market value and growth area.

In future, manufacturers, whether they be large or small, should maximise this potential, and start a new era of using recycled materials to make their products.

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