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How Yogurt containers become recycling bins

Synclair Richards | June 6th, 2019

When picking up an item in a store, do you ever consider what types of materials go into creating this product? Where do they even come from? Of course, some products are made from new and common materials such as plastic or fabric, but what about products that are made from recycled materials? Where does the recycled material come from?


What is Post-Consumer Waste?

In some cases, recycled material can come from post-consumer waste. Post-consumer waste consists of materials or products that have come to the end of their life cycle for a consumer that has been diverted or recycled. Since the products have completed their intended use, they can be repurposed into other products. Common materials include Curbside recycled plastics such as water-bottles, milk jugs, and yes - even yogurt containers! This material can only be collected when its disposed of properly meaning it all starts with us - the consumer!

Pre-Consumer vs. Post-Consumer

You might be wondering, aside from the prefixes, what is the difference between these two terms? As explained above, post-consumer materials are sourced from products that have fulfilled their purpose and are then reprocessed into something new. Pre-consumer means materials or products that do not make it to consumers and are reused in the creation of other products. An example of pre-consumer would be: if a company has a defective product they haven't released to the market, they can use some of the materials from that product to create a new product.

Another term you may have heard of is, post-industrial waste. This is similar to pre-consumer waste. Pre-industrial is the scraps and other materials that do not get used in production, while pre-consumer is a product that is fully completed but has a problem. Both of these kinds of materials have never reached a consumer, or even left a facility. They are repurposed before they are used for their intended use.

Companies that use Post-Consumer Waste

Businesses are starting to find unique ways to incorporate recycled materials into their products, but only some businesses have accomplished creating products with only post-consumer waste.

Adidas is an excellent example of a company taking footsteps (pun intended) in the right direction. Adidas x Parley uses ocean plastics to create shoes and clothing. Their goal is to stop waste from entering our oceans. They are hoping to turn "a threat to thread."

Another company that uses post-consumer materials is Pentatonic. They are a European furniture company that focuses on using post-consumer production to achieve stylishly and repurposed furniture. Pentatonic believes that today's materials become tomorrow's applications. They want to reincarnate waste instead of buying it.

Re; Code is another example of a company who uses post-consumer waste. They are based out of Korea. This clothing company focuses on upcycling clothing. The brand is hoping to be able to redefine fashion while thinking about the earth simultaneously. Re; Code hopes to share a culture that is more than fashion with consumers.

Here at Busch Systems, we are always looking for ways to incorporate more recycled content into our containers! All of our bins contain at least 35% recycled material. As often as possible, we include post-consumer recycled material in our bins, and currently, have a number of products that are made from 100% Post-Consumer plastics including our customer favorite black Waste Watcher XL! Incorporating recycled materials into our products is important to us at Busch Systems as it aligns with our values and the values of our customers. When our containers can collect the materials that then get turned into more containers down the road, it closes the loop on making positive changes for our environment.

With these examples in mind, hopefully, other companies will be encouraged to join the post-consumer movement and begin using recycled material to create their products!

Why use Post-Consumer Materials?

Companies can benefit from using post-consumer recycled content in their product development. Consumers care about recycling and take notice when companies implement sustainable practices. By using recycled or post-consumer materials, it can create a new type of consumer demographic. Bringing in new customers while intriguing existing ones. Post-consumer materials are considered an untapped resource, meaning there is no-one taking advantage of these materials with substantial value. With all the recycled and post-consumer materials out in the world, it makes sense for companies to consider how they can reuse waste. Companies can grow and develop by generating efficient ways to incorporate waste in an increasingly competitive market. Being a sustainable and environmentally friendly company is just another great practice to add to any company repertoire.

While there are so many benefits to using post-consumer materials, the main one is helping the environment. If we can reduce the amount of virgin material being used and replace it with post-consumer content, it will be a giant step in the right direction towards a sustainable planet!

You might also be interested in:
Summerfolk Festival Goes Green
Interview with City of Regina's Waste Minimization Specialist, Jodie Frank
Q&A With Recycle Across America

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