Manufacturing: designing out waste

Posted on 19 Aug 2015 by The Manufacturer

Russell Bacon of i2i Events Group, organisers of RWM 2015, discusses the manufacturing sector’s opportunity to lead with greener business practices.

Ten years ago, Dame Ellen MacArthur completed her solo round-the-world voyage in record time.

While sailing the high seas, MacArthur was acutely aware of the finite nature of her supplies. If something broke, it had to be fixed using whatever was available on the boat; and if something ran out, it wouldn’t be restocked.

Back on dry land, MacArthur noticed the similarities between her supplies at sea and Planet Earth. With a finite supply of resources it makes sense to keep materials in the cycle – yet too often materials end up in landfill after a single use.

There is a growing demand for products with higher recycled content
Examples of circular economy successes will be centre-stage at RWM 2015.

Enter the ‘circular economy’ – an idea that humanity’s relationship with resources becomes a circular, rather than linear one.

Keeping materials ‘in the loop’ is increasingly important and has strong economic as well as environmental benefits.

The recycling sector is working closely with the manufacturing industry to develop sustainable markets for recycled materials.

There is a growing demand for products with higher recycled content, and reprocessors and materials handlers have vastly upped their game to meet the exacting demands of manufacturers.

As circular economy concepts become more commonplace, manufacturers at the head of their game are recognising the opportunities of more resource efficient business practices.

Solid examples of circular economy successes will be centre-stage at this year’s RWM show, Europe’s largest and best-established event for resource efficiency and waste management, which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham from 15 – 17 September.

Designing out waste

Designing waste out of processes is the best way to save money on materials that aren’t needed.

RWM Ambassadors from across multiple industries will be sharing their thoughts and experiences in seminar sessions and panel debates.
RWM Ambassadors will be sharing their thoughts and experiences in seminar sessions and panel debates.

Small operational changes and staff involvement can often make a big difference to the amount of waste generated from a manufacturing process.

Furthermore, by separating waste materials at source they can be recycled into high quality recycled materials, to be used again and again.

Professional advisors will be on hand throughout RWM 2015 to discuss resource efficiency approaches within the manufacturing sector.

From staff engagement through to leading-edge technology, best practice case studies will be shared and debated in the conference theatres, with a packed itinerary to inform and inspire.

Using high quality recycled materials

Incorporating recycled materials into manufacturing processes is not the risky practice it once was.

With the wide range of high quality recycled materials available on the market, it makes both environmental and business sense to use materials that are not from virgin sources.

Recycled plastic polymers
Polymer sorting and recycling facilities have vastly improved.

Some materials, such as metals, can be recycled over and over again without losing their quality. Polymer sorting and recycling facilities have also vastly improved and recycled plastic pellets are now of such a high quality they are indistinguishable from virgin plastics.

All the latest recycling and reprocessing technologies will be on display at this year’s RWM show. The UK’s largest recycling businesses will be alongside the niche reprocessors, giving the full spectrum of possibilities for sustainable resource management.

Designing for recyclability

A circular economy isn’t just about reducing waste and recycling.

Designers from across the globe are working on new models of products and packaging that eliminate waste and enable easy dismantling at the end of an item’s useful life.

Consumer and legislative demands are driving serious changes in the way that manufacturers approach product design, and by ensuring recyclability both the material and its economic worth stay ‘in the loop’.

Best practice examples of design for recyclability will be on display at RWM 2015, and the Circular Economy Zone and Theatre will provide a hub for the forward-thinking approaches being developed for and by the sector.

RWM 2015 is free to attend

To find out more and register, click here, call +44 (0)203 033 2049 or email [email protected].

This year’s event has been shaped by a team of RWM Ambassadors from across multiple industries, and they will be sharing their thoughts and experiences in seminar sessions and panel debates.

Sophie Thomas, co-director of design at the Royal Society of The Arts; Inder Poonaji, former head of health, safety & environmental sustainability for Nestle; and Louis Lindenberg, global packaging sustainability director at Unilever UK Ltd will be discussing cutting-edge resource efficiency in manufacturing and product design.

RWM is Europe’s largest event for the recycling and waste management sector. It takes place from 15 – 17 September at the NEC in Birmingham and will see 13,000 visitors from across the globe, along with 700 exhibitors and hundreds of conference sessions.