Circular Economy: the Core of Sustainability

Posted by Celine Coleman, Marketing Director, Clover Imaging Group EMEA on Jul 1, 2020 9:30:00 AM
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In todays linear economy, many products at our disposal break down too quickly, cannot easily be reused, repaired or recycled and too many are made for single use only. It’s an economy that significantly depletes resources, with high emissions and waste generation and has severe impacts on our ecosystem and natural resources.  According to Hans Bruyninckx, European Environment Agency (EEA) Executive Director “Europe’s environment is at a tipping point. We have a narrow window of opportunity in the next decade to scale up measures to protect nature, lessen the impacts of climate change and radically reduce our consumption of natural resources.”

The importance of closed loop manufacturing process

A circular economy aims to maintain the value of products, materials and resources for as long as possible by returning them into the product cycle at the end of their use, while minimising the generation of waste. If we remanufacture, reuse and recycle, and if one industry's waste becomes another's raw material, we can move to a more circular economy where waste is eliminated, and resources are used in an efficient and sustainable way.  In 2017, the EU's circularity rate was just 11.2%, that is, 11.2% of material resources used in the EU came from recycled products and recovered materials.

In a response to ongoing climate and environmental related challenges and to reaffirm the commitment of the European commission to tackling them, the European Green Deal was created in December 2019. The green deal will work through a framework of regulation and legislation setting clear and ambitious targets, the two main goals being achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and a 50%-55% cut in emissions by 2030.  The European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, called the deal “Europe’s man on the moon moment” such is its significance and indeed ambition. 

At the core of the EU Green Deal is its Circular Ecomony Action Plan (CEAP) presented to EU legislators 11 March 2020. The aim of the Action Plan is to reduce the EU's consumption footprint and double the EU's circular material use rate in the coming decade, while boosting economic growth. Preventing waste from being created is also key. Once waste has been created, it needs to be transformed into high-quality resources.

Printer cartridge remanufacturing under the circular economy blueprint

Clover has been employing a circular economy blueprint in its production and waste management process for many years.  For over twenty years, we have focused on a single mission — to offer businesses and consumers an environmentally friendly alternative to single-use printer cartridges in the form of remanufactured printer cartridges.  At the core of Clover’s remanufacturing business is the concept of reuse.  Reuse is a mindset that drives us to constantly seek productive and economically valuable uses not only for the products we remanufacture but for the components and by-products we generate in our collections and remanufacturing business.  At every stage in our operations we strive to reuse material and give a second life to objects that would otherwise end up in a landfill.  Whether it is in the remanufacturing of cartridges or the reuse of electronics, the goal is always to make the most of every single component possible.  In this way, by the very nature of our operations we create sustainability, reduce waste to landfill and make a positive contribution to the environment.

Clover evaluates every empty cartridge that is received – first for remanufacturing potential, and then for material recovery through recycling. Clover collects 4.8 million KG of used printer supplies per year preventing them from entering landfills (based on 2009-2018 Clover Sustainability Report figures). Each remanufacturable cartridge is put through our multi-step remanufacturing process and returned to the marketplace. If a cartridge is not remanufacturable, all viable components are harvested for use in the remanufacturing of other cartridges or recycled to produce other products. By harvesting these components from the waste stream, Clover conserves the non-renewable resources required to make cartridges from scratch.

Recycled content of monochrome and colour Clover remanufactured laser toner cartridges is 89.60% and is 96.89% for inkjet cartridges (based on empty cartridge weight).

Author: Celine Coleman, Marketing Director, Clover Imaging Group

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