Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Recycling - benefits for business!

Recycle to add to "bottom line".

The retail business can be quite complex at times with additional costs accrued for all sorts of unexpected reasons, and we suffered these costs at the Corner Shop as much as anyone else.

Part of our problem, of course, is the amount of stock that we turnover, one can imagine that a multi-million pound business such as this requires in excess of 0.75 million pounds worth of stock at any time in order to satisfy the needs of our customers. Carrying sufficient stock to service your sales is essential, but it comes at an environmental cost. I've lost count of the number of 40 feet trailers that have arrived at the back door this past month but it averages around six or seven per day, can you now let your mind puzzle over how many gallons of diesel have been burned to deliver this stock to me? How much carbon have these monster trucks emitted into the atmosphere? The next big issue here is the amount of packaging involved in the cases of goods stacked high on pallets that we must dispense with, we used to fill two huge skips per week! There was considerable cost involved in having these skips emptied twice per week, costs which come straight off the bottom line profit. We were accumulating over 1500 Kgs of waste every week, which no doubt found it's way to the nearest landfill - more lorries, more carbon!

So we decided two years ago that it was time to recycle, the lorries and trailers that delivered the goods would be used to 'backhaul' the waste product to be sold on for recyclable use. Cardboard was separated and collected in cages and pallet boxes, plastics were separated too, then we moved on to wooden waste, then metals - we have since added special containers for liquid wastes and hazardous materials. The end result, and the aim, was to make a much smaller use of the skips to reduce our costs, reduce landfill use, reduce carbon emissions too, and boy is it working!!

The Corner Shop saw it's waste volumes in the skips reduced from 1500 Kilos per week to 900 Kilos after the first year and a reduction to one skip per week to empty. After the second year the waste volumes have been reduced to under 500 Kilos and the skip size reduced to a smaller 'mini' version, costs have tumbled, at the rate of progress that we are making I can see us ending up using a wheely bin after next year. With the money saved we might even buy ourselves a cardboard bailing machine to make the job simpler and even more profitable. Oh, it is so good to be green!

I've been to our recycling village in Middlefields, South Shields and it's an impressive operation, especially for the householder who cannot get all of their recyclables into the small 'kerb it' tote boxes supplied by South Tyneside Council, I also note that certain charities benefit greatly from our recycling efforts, particularly with clothing and old childrens toys. However, it concerns me that I keep hearing stories about cyclists and pedestrians turning up with their black bags full of last season's woolly jumpers and being turned away because (they claim) the facility cannot deal with anything other than vehicles!

If this is true, then it really ought to be addressed, whilst we need to encourage everyone to recycle as much as possible, at the same time we have to discourage the use of the petrol burning engine as far as is practicable. To use Health and Safety issues surrounding pedestrians as a reason is simply not good enough, a solution has to be found. Somebody please tell me that these things don't happen, somebody please tell me it isn't true!

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