Circular Economy: The key to better waste management for your business

If you are a business owner, correct and proper waste management has never been so important. In the past, waste was seen as a necessary by-product of production, but it has now become one of the biggest global, economic, social and scientific challenges of all time.

Controlling both pre-production and post-production

For businesses, there are two areas of waste management that need to be looked at in order to have an impact on waste reduction:

Pre-production waste – this is produced before and during the production process, such as:

  • Over mining of resources
  • Products damaged in transportation
  • Unfinished products
  • Replacement of production machinery
  • Over production of products
  • Defected or faulty products 

Post-production waste – this is produced after the actual production, such as:

  • Packaging a product was sold in
  • Packaging used to transport goods
  • Used goods
  • Out of date technology
  • Waste produced by the use of product

Waste Management Triangle









The waste hierarchy (above) is one tool that’s been used to examine ways of reducing post-production waste. Through prevention and minimisation, the hierarchy has been effective in reducing post-production waste, but has proved to be costly. For many companies this costly approach has stopped them from using the system, and ultimately reducing their waste.

Prevention is the most favoured option as not only can it save businesses money, but it also is the easiest option in the long run. Disposal is the least favourite option because it can look less organised for a business and isn’t as much of a sustainable option as preventing waste.

It’s clear that a new approach is needed. Companies need to be able to reduce waste, but in an economical way.

Try creating a ‘Circular Economy’

The term ‘Circular Economy’ means an industrial economy that is designed to be restorative – i.e. many of the aspects of manufacturing that are thought of as waste, actually become thought of as a useable by-product.

The Circular Economy looks at materials in two categories: biological and technical. Each of these materials move through the system differently – biological materials re-enter the biosphere safely, whilst technical materials circulate in the system indefinitely without entering the biosphere. Take a look at the infographic below for an overview of this process.

The Circular Economy Infographic

The Circular Economy system results in very little landfill. By re-using, refurbishing, and recycling materials as commonplace, the cost of materials is also reduced.

We talked to Joshua Balmer – MSc at the University of Central Lancashire’s Centre of Waste Management about the advantages of a Circular Economy, he said:

“Disposal should be a last resort in most cases, particularly if you’re manufacturing. It isn’t always possible to avoid waste, but it’s becoming more commonplace to reintroduce what was previously thought of as waste back into your production process. There are always direct cost savings and environmental benefits to be found here and we are likely to see more used products becoming available as new through refurbishment. An example would be ball bearings:  they largely lose very little of their overall effectiveness during a product’s lifetime, but are then lost to waste when the product is disposed of.”

 The benefits of waste management systems

 The United Nations’ Environmental Programme ‘Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategies Moving from Challenges to Opportunities’ describes the benefits of a waste management system as:

Waste is not something that should be discarded or disposed of with no regard for future use. It can be a valuable resource if addressed correctly, through policy and practice. With rational and consistent waste management practices there is an opportunity to reap a range of benefits. Those benefits include:

 1. Economic – Improving economic efficiency through the means of resource use, treatment and disposal and creating markets for recyclable products can lead to efficient practices in the production and consumption of products and materials resulting in valuable materials being recovered for reuse and the potential for new jobs and new business opportunities.

 2. Social – By reducing adverse impacts on health by proper waste management practices, the resulting consequences are more appealing settlements. Better social advantages can lead to new sources of employment and potentially lifting communities out of poverty especially in some of the developing poorer countries and cities.

 3. Environmental – Reducing or eliminating adverse impacts on the environmental environment through reducing, reusing and recycling, and minimizing resource extraction can provide improved air and water quality and help in the reduction of greenhouse emissions.

 4. Inter-generational Equity – Following effective waste management practices can provide subsequent generations a more robust economy, a fairer and more inclusive society and a cleaner environment.

A Circular Economy is not only designed to accommodate every single one of these points, but it can reduce your business waste and your costs too. By implementing a Circular Economy system that focuses on reducing pre-production waste, you’ll cut post-production waste and so reduce your business’ impact on the environment while improving your bottom line.

Waste Management – what it means to Rajapack

Simon Howes (Head of Logistics) at Rajapack UK states: “The issue of waste recycling is at the forefront of government and local authority priorities, simply getting rid of waste in landfills is not good enough. Waste prevention is based on a simple concept. If you create less waste, you consume fewer resources and you will have to spend less effort (e.g. money, energy) to recycle or dispose of your waste”.

“Recycling is a noble task but definitely not so favourable amongst all employees.  In general, environmental issues have become more important to more people. You can tell in the last few years there is more natural concern over this topic with our own employees now openly asking questions. However, the initial education of a team to identify the different streams of waste and separating them is a task harder said than done and some will even ignore it after implementation. “

“Many people lack the knowledge of the impact this has on future generations. In addition many people won’t think too much of it until they feel the effects which will take some time. It must also be noted that there is still also a factor of “Cannot be bothered” or “It’s a minefield”. This simply is not the case, in reality how hard can it be to separate food, cardboard, plastic, tins etc. There is of course an initial outlay on the purchase of bins in order to separate and a call to a waste carrier should see you set well on your way. “

Simon went on to say that “Ignoring waste recycling potentially incurs loss”. “With cardboard and plastic rates at a high, there are obvious rewards for recycling waste”.

“At Rajapack we currently have two baling machines. One of which produces mill sized bales of cardboard and the second is a twin baler used for plastic (stretch wrap, plastic straps etc). Both are utilised pretty much all day and each operative is trained on the apparatus to comply with Health and Safety. All materials are separated on arrival and taken to the recycling area ready for baling.  Any other materials are collected throughout the day. “

Simon concludes “Ultimately, a total prevention of waste to zero will result in a society with no waste at all and thus waste management would be obsolete. In practice our societies are far away from a status of no waste and it is also evident that, in theory, a complete avoidance of waste is impossible.  Therefore we must all try to help; after all, you could be missing out on small or large rebates.  At the very least, you get the sense that you’re doing something to make a difference!”

A day in the life of…a Rajapack Field Sales Executive

Graham Williams has worked for Rajapack for just over a year covering South London, Kent, Surrey, East and West Sussex and Hampshire. Graham has over 25 years of sales and contract management experience in print and packaging. Outside of work Graham is active in coaching his younger son’s Under 13 football team, off-road cycling and gardening.

Graham Williams Photo

Here he describes a typical day in the life of a Rajapack Field Sales Executive.

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The Cardboard Tech Revolution

We live in a decade where technological innovation is pretty commonplace – everyday there’s something new. The news is full of stories of fresh ideas for everything from entertainment to medicine. There always seems to be a sleek new machine being made or a more advanced material being used. But after a little research, Rajapack have discovered that even something as established as cardboard is getting its time in the technological limelight.

Don’t believe us? Well, we’ve gone out to find the most impressive new technologies that use cardboard and some of the things we found may surprise you.

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard

Image: Google Play

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How to Package Glassware & Ceramics

Third in our packaging guide series is how to deal with what can be some of the trickiest items to pack safely; glassware and ceramics. These items are obviously very fragile and often have delicate handles or protrusions which are easily damaged, so need a lot of protection.

Here we list some steps you can take to minimise the risk of your prized porcelain being damaged while being transported.  

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Solidarity Commitment Week

16-20 June 2014

RAJA Foundation – Danièle Marcovici
Supporting women in the World

“At Raja, solidarity towards women is everyone’s business”

Last June, the “RAJA Foundation – Danièle Marcovici” held its 2nd Solidarity Commitment Week at the RAJA Group European headquarters in Roissy, France. Raja employees were fully committed to this initiative thanks to the RAJApeople program.

Raja employees can support charities all year long thanks to a micro donation scheme. So far more than €7,000 has been raised.

Association pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire (AFESIP)

The “microDON” (micro donation) is a payroll giving scheme whereby each employee can donate from a few cents to several euros towards the Foundation. The funds raised are doubled by the company and are donated to a charity chosen by the Foundation.

This year, the winning charity of the RAJApeople Award is the “Association pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire (AFESIP)” – Association for Women in Vulnerable Situations. On June 20th, a cheque for €7,076.78 was awarded to Claude Pretot, President of the Association, by Danièle Kapel-Marcovici, President of the Foundation and CEO of RAJA Group at the European Group headquarters in Roissy.

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How to Package Electronics

Following on from our packaging overview last month, we have had a detailed look at the precautions that should be taken when packaging electronic items and components. Every year the online retail industry is growing, and not just for big name online stores. EBay, Amazon and other online marketplaces mean that consumer to consumer selling is also on the rise.

Electrical goods packaging

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Recycling Paper: The Facts

The state of the environment is now a major concern for all governments, industries Paper recyclingand companies. It’s constantly in the news and there’s a general acceptance about the great benefits of more sustainable ways of life. Recycling is a big part of this and is now practiced on a very large scale, with many homes and offices now having their own recycling bins and collection services.

But recycling the odd envelope or doodled scrap of paper can sometimes feel like it won’t make much of a difference, and you often wonder what even happens to the paper once it’s shipped off to the recycling centres.

To follow on from our latest look at reusing cardboard, we’ve decided to lay down a few facts about paper recycling to help motivate you to get all the bits of paper you have laying around shipped off for recycling.

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Box End of Life: What To Do With Cardboard After Use

Triple wall boxesWhether you’ve just moved house or ordered a load of online goods, sometimes we all find ourselves with an excess of cardboard lying around – it’s been estimated that each person in the UK uses about 140 cardboard boxes every year. But what can you do with all of it? Just throw it away? Well, this would probably be a waste, because there’s so much more that can be done with cardboard than you might think.

Rajapack has a rich heritage of reusing cardboard – back in 1954, when Rajapack was founded (named “Cartons Raja” back then), the company originally sold reused cardboard as a cheaper alternative to buying new boxes. Being environmentally friendly is still at the centre of Rajapack’s DNA. Things might be a little different now, but this history is still an important reminder that cardboard doesn’t need to be wasted.

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Selling Online – Protecting Your Deliveries

Selling online through auction sites and online market places can be an easy way for individuals to make a bit of extra cash, or for businesses to venture in to low-risk ecommerce. Using these sites is advantageous in that most logistical issues are taken care of. However, packaging your item is not one such thing, and Rajapack wants to help you to get it right.

Electrical goods packaging

As a seller, you are responsible for the condition of a product up until the point it reaches the customer. Whether it is damaged en route or before dispatch is irrelevant, you are responsible. The last thing you want is to be sending your products to customers, only to receive complaints and returns. This costs you money as well as inconveniencing both you and your customers. So how then do you best protect your goods?

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How Fast Can Deliveries Get?

800px-HTS_Systems_FedEx_Express_delivery_vanWe all know the feeling: ordering something and having a long wait for it to arrive. Before the internet became so widely used and the fast-food way of life truly began, there was a time when a delivery (usually ordered over the phone) would come in a matter of weeks or months, rather than days or minutes.  Not only that, but there was always that bizarrely ambiguous period in which the item could turn up – something like 4-8 weeks. Nowadays a month-long window for your parcel to get to you seems absurd. What variables could possibly have influenced a package to arrive one month after the order the first time, and two months after the order the next? What changes are there that result in a four week difference?

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