Our recycling guru is Caroline, one of our Product Managers. She’s so into recycling that she once climbed into her own recycling bin. Alright, she may have had a few drinks at the time, but that’s by the by. You can often spot her over by the recycling bins, perhaps fishing something out that shouldn’t be in there. It makes her very cross when she finds crisp packets in the food waste bin. And rightly so!
While we’re on the subject of bins, here’s how our set up in the office looks. It’s working pretty well so far. Last time we checked we were recycling 92% of our waste. That’s actually 6% off our target of 98%, but we have some rather ingenious plans to improve this. One of the more eccentric ones involved a series of elaborate padlocks and codes required to open the regular waste bin. This wasn’t popular amongst the rest of the team for some reason…
But you might well be wondering what we recycle and why we bother. We’re fortunate enough to work with a local company, Paper Round, who deal with all our recycling and are rather fantastic in that they’re able to recycle a whole plethora of waste. Let’s take a look:
Recycling paper means less trees need to be chopped down, which makes for more happy trees and healthier air quality. The paper we recycle is sorted into 4 grades: white paper, sorted office waste, newspaper and magazines, and cardboard. Any unusable residues that can’t be recycled (mainly because they’re too small or too heavily contaminated) are known as sludge and these are burnt by the recycling plant to generate energy or used as a soil conditioner by farmers. Oh yeah, and we only buy recycled paper from Paper Round for office use, so it’s closed loop.
Reusing metals from cans means less pollutants – again, great for air quality! We’re able to recycle mixed cans, aluminium and steel and it’s pretty amazing what you can make out of an old can! Not just those amazing string telephones I used to have as a child, but also new drinks cans, car parts and some are even used in aircraft production. (See, there is a travel theme after all!)
Did you know that the earliest known glass objects were beads, believed to have been made in the mid second millennium BC? While we may not have known about these beads if they’d been recycled, that’s not an excuse to throw your glass in the landfill! No Sir! The glass we recycle is sorted into 3 main colours: clear, brown and green, before being crushed and sold to bottle and jar manufacturers to make new, well, bottles and jars.
The sad thing is that plastic never biodegrades. Never. It just gets smaller and smaller and smaller and ends up polluting the entire ecosystem, with plastic found in fish that have ingested it from the ocean, and even trace amounts recently found in tap water. Plastic is therefore one of the most important materials to recycle (if you really do have to use it, that is). Once sorted, our recycled plastic is flaked and sold to plastic manufacturers. Using recycled plastic rather than virgin material saves 2 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of plastic used.
Woah, wait a minute, isn’t food waste biodegradable? Well, yes, but food waste in landfill sites just rots away releasing methane into the atmosphere. Our food waste is instead taken to a specialised anaerobic digestion biogas plant. Pretty fancy. This breaks down the organic matter into fertiliser and biogas. A combined heat and power engine converts the biogas into electricity and heat which enters the National Grid.
Yes! We’re always trying to recycle rather than simply throw away, so we also recycle the following:
IT equipment, appliances and sundry ferrous (you know, like fridges and that), toner cartridges, batteries, wood, fluorescent tubes, polystyrene, CDs and VHS tapes.
So, that’s how we handle our recycling at Rickshaw. We’re pretty passionate about it too, so we’d encourage you to recycle wherever you can, whether it’s at home or during your travels. Because if Caroline catches you, there’ll be hell to pay!
PS… If you want to find out more about how we make life more meaningful at our home, visit our blog.
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