We all know the importance of recycling. It’s a message that has been driven down our throats for many years. Web campaigns and TV adverts have been financed; tips have been rebranded ‘recycling centres’; councils provide us with specially compartmentalised bins and refuse to remove bottles, tins and plastic bags that haven’t been properly categorised.
Yet while we may all do our bit at home, businesses have never seemed weighed down by the same burden of responsibility. I suppose that is the nature of a material society. Our big brands haven’t been required to be overly concerned with the environment; their goal is to sell as many products as possible, not worry about where and how they may be disposed. The bottom line has always been that targets need to be hit and that means shifting more dishwashers, Plasma TVs, trainers. Who cares if they end up as landfill in China?
Apparently, we do.
One trend touted to materialise on the UK high street in 2012 is ‘Eco-Cycology’, where brands take back all of their old stock and recycle it responsibly and innovatively. Forecasters are citing the fact that many big-name businesses are already blazing a trail in the US:
- Nike’s ‘Reuse-A-Shoe’ scheme has collected and recycled over 25 million pairs of worn-out Nike trainers since 1990. Old shoes are ground up into a material called ‘Nike Grind’, which is then used in creating athletic and playground surfaces.
- Outdoor brand Patagonia’s ‘Common Threads Initiative’ sees any Patagonia item that has reached the end of its ‘life’ returned for recycling into new fibre or fabric. The company claims to have taken back 45 tons of clothing for recycling and made 34 tons into new clothes.
- Dell runs ‘Dell Reconnect’ in partnership with Goodwill Industries. The scheme allows users to take their electrical equipment, from any brand, to one of Goodwill’s 2,200+ participating locations in the United States or Canada, where it will then be refurbished or recycled.
The likelihood that eco-cycology becomes something more than just a phenomenon for companies wanting to showcase their ’green’ credentials is increased by the fact that it is an initiative driven by us, the consumer. Shoppers are now more aware not only of the financial value in their purchases, but the material and ecological value of products too, putting their pound where their mouth is.
With the recent news that the European Parliament has voted for tougher regulations on the disposal of electronic trash, requiring each country to collect 4 kilos of e-waste per citizen by 2012, and to process 85% of all its electronic waste by 2016, here’s hoping eco-cycology is one fashion that catches on.
This post was selected for Everything Home January Edition, hosted by My DIY Tips.