The rise of circular economy thinking is creating new ways of approaching manufacturing and product stewardship across a breadth of markets. Buying products and materials made from recycled content is a significant step to shift our economy from linear to circular.
When choosing to buy recycled, you are keeping materials out of landfill and groundwater, growing new markets and encouraging more manufacturers to use recycled materials and rethink product design. Minimising the consumption of virgin resources can save water and energy as well as reduce pollution.
According to research by Planet Ark, 70% of Australians would be more likely to purchase a product if it contained recycled materials. And a survey of 115 councils from around Australia showed that a majority (64%) rate implementing a ‘buy recycled’ policy or similar for council operations as a high or mid priority.
At GECA, we know that now more than ever, manufacturers and procurement are calling for a circular economy society with better waste solutions and increased recycling and reuse wherever possible.
One way that we help make this a reality is through the development of robust standards based on life cycle thinking. All GECA standards include comprehensive sustainability criteria relating to the environment, health, social, and fit-for-purpose. Our Recycled Products standard strongly supports the progression of circular solutions.
Not only does our Recycled Products standard specify minimum quantities of recycled materials by weight, but it also restricts certain treatments or coatings that would prevent further recycling. Unlike other recycled-content products, GECA certified products must also meet criteria for a wide range of environmental issues, human health and social impacts, while also proving that they perform as promised.
In May, Australian packaging company JMP Holdings demonstrated its leadership and struck a blow against greenwash by moving beyond a self-declared recycled content claim and certifying under our standard. They currently have four GECA certified packaging satchels, including one made from 100% recycled plastic created for Australia and New Zealand’s leading online retailer, THE ICONIC.
Another company certified under the standard, Grass-Cel, manufacture innovative porous turf paving blocks made from old damaged council garbage bins. These recycled content products have been engineered for strength and stability with a minimum weight-bearing capability of 260 tonnes per square metre! Gras-Cel has been embraced by several councils for turning traffic areas into lawn, creating beautiful rooftop gardens and vegetable patches, and using the blocks for pebble retention.
It has been very encouraging to see an increase in recycled content being prioritised for public procurement across the country. In early March, the Victorian Government announced its Recycled First program designed to boost the use of recycled and reused materials in construction projects. Recycled First will build new requirements into future projects under the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority, bringing a uniform approach to the use of recycled products and driving innovation in sustainable materials.
As an organisation focused on helping businesses to make, buy and do better for people and planet, GECA will continue to support those wanting to implement circular economy solutions.