What retailers are doing for National Recycling Week

Thousands of businesses including many retailers closed their doors or accommodated employees to participate in climate strikes in September, as part of the “This is not business as usual” campaign.

Now it’s National Recycling Week, and retailers are once again talking about the environment and what they are doing to reduce their impact on it.

Founded by Planet Ark in 1996, National Recycling Week is an annual campaign to promote recycling and give people the tools to minimise waste and better manage material resources at home, work and school.

Running from November 11-17, this year’s initiative has seen councils across the country hold clothing swaps, worm farm workshops and other events to help people make more sustainable choices. Here’s what retailers are doing:

Officeworks

Officeworks has launched a new national battery and pen recycling program that will be rolled out over the next 12 months. The rollout follows a successful trial in five stores.

The program gives customers a place to deposit used batteries and pens so they can be disposed of responsibly. The retailer has partnered with Envirostream to recycle the batteries and pen-maker BIC to recycle the pens and markers that are dropped off in stores.

Only 3 per cent of batteries are currently recycled in Australia, according to the Victorian Government, with most ending up in landfill, where they can leach harmful substances into the soil.

Officeworks’ general manager of corporate affairs Alexandra Staley said the retailer is committed to helping its customers reduce their impact on the environment.

“We know our customers want to dispose of their unwanted items such as batteries responsibly, and that they appreciate there’s value in recovering and reusing the materials. Providing our customers with convenient and effective recycling programs that make a real difference is really important to us,” she said.

According to Officeworks, BIC, in partnership with TerraCycle, will recycle old pens and markers into items such as playground equipment for schools when there is enough volume.

The battery and pen recycling program is in addition to the e-waste recycling program that Officeworks established in 2012, which provides customers the opportunity to recycle computers and laptops, monitors, keyboards, printers, mice, hard drives, mobile phones and accessories, cables, chargers, DVDs and CDs. It also recycles older ink and toner cartridges through Planet Ark.

“To-date we’ve helped our customers recycle more than 4,800 tonnes of e-waste,” Staley said.

Nespresso

Nespresso Oceania is one of the sponsors of National Recycling Week this year, and it’s using its involvement to dispel some of the myths around the sustainability of coffee capsules, from the sourcing and production, to the coffee extraction and recycling of the aluminium and coffee grounds.

The company has established its own industry-leading recycling scheme centered around a purpose-built facility in Nowra, NSW. The scheme enables every Nespresso customer in Australia to recycle their capsules with four different options, including 22,000 drop-off locations or the opportunity for businesses and local organisations to become recycling collection points using the bulk recycling kit.

In addition, Nespresso is partnering with leading waste expert Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of the UNSW Centre of Sustainable Materials Research and Technology, to explore ways to capture and collect coffee capsules to reform the metals into more valuable materials for reuse.

“Creating recycling solutions, like our project with Professor Veena, is hugely exciting for us as we not only need to educate and increase recycling participation, but find even more relevant ways to use the valuable materials we recover,” Jeff Wong, Nespresso’s marketing and communications manager, said.

Mirvac

Mirvac Retail, which operates a portfolio of shopping centres, including Birkenhead Point Brand Outlet, Tramsheds and Kawana Shoppingworld, has partnered with OzHarvest to reduce food waste going to landfill.

In Australia alone, over 7.3 million tonnes of food goes to waste, at an estimated cost of approximately $20 billion a year, according to OzHarvest. Of this, 2.5 million tonnes comes from households.

The property owner has put up signage in its centres and is sharing information on its website and social media channels about how consumers can reduce their food waste by meal planning, using leftovers, buying just what they need, storing fresh food properly so it lasts longer and using their freezer.

In addition, Mirvac provides a separate organics collection process for its tenants to ensure maximum recovery of food waste. At its Kawana Shoppingworld centre, the company has introduced a closed-loop solution which sees food waste converted to fertiliser for surrounding farmers.

The company is targeting zero waste to landfill by 2030 and is assisting the Australian Government to meet the national target to halve food waste by 2030.

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