Wherever possible, if it’s safe to do so, we reuse containers and materials that enter our system. For all materials that can’t be reused, we have a strict recycling policy in place to ensure they’re recycled and to keep waste from our factory to a minimum.
We have to bear in mind that recycling isn’t always as straight forward for chemical manufacturers as it is in some other industries. Some materials can’t be reused as they absorb chemicals, and we also have to deal safely and appropriately with chemical waste.
We aim to bring back as many glass bottles as possible from our customers in order to reuse them. We actually put 98% of the glass bottles we receive back into service – they go through a washing service at ReAgent and are fit to be used again.
The only parts we cannot recycle are the caps on bottles, because once the seal is broken, the cap is damaged and cannot be reused.
How we treat glass bottles
When the glass bottles come back to us, they should be empty. If there is any residue left, we have to treat that as chemical waste. For some chemicals, this may mean emptying the bottles out into a waste container, but for solvents and anything similar, we can let the residue evaporate and go up the fume extraction chimney.
It’s important that we make sure the bottles are completely empty before they go through the washing process so we can be certain there’s nothing left to harm the operators that are going to clean out the bottles.
The basic washing process involves removing all labels, then washing bottles inside and out with a detergent, before flushing them clean and leaving them to dry. They will then be marked up as recycled and will go back into storage, ready for us to use them again.
Because of the porous nature of plastic, chemicals can be absorbed into plastic containers, meaning we’re not able to reuse them. Instead, we collect all plastic containers, remove the labels and thoroughly wash them out.
We store plastic in a recycling skip along with cardboard packaging and paper and the materials are collected every two weeks.
Cardboard, Metal and Paper
Wherever possible and providing they are in good condition, we aim to reuse the cardboard cartons that contain our glass bottles. Any other cardboard goes in the recycling skip ready for collection.
In order to reduce paper waste, we keep any scrap paper to make notes on. We have also changed the format of our work instructions to make them simpler and to use significantly less paper.
We ensure that all our scrap metal is collected and recycled.
Our Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment cannot be thrown in the skip. This includes all of our computers and pretty much anything else we house that runs electronically or electrically. We segregate WEEE and prepare them to be collected for recycling.
We’re not able to dispose of chemical waste on our premises. Chemical waste all gets segregated and collected by a chemical waste management company, who then distribute the waste appropriate to its disposal method. Solvents can be reclaimed and reused, all flammable products can be incinerated, and acid and alkaline waste can be neutralised and then safely disposed of.
It’s important for us that we have a system in place that legally disposes of chemical waste. It’s our responsibility to ensure we know who has collected the waste and where they’re going to take it. We track everything in a waste register, including things like waste carriers licenses and waste management licenses. ReAgent itself must also register with the Environment Agency as a waste producer.
ReAgent continues to maintain processes that reduce our impact on the environment. You can read more about our Environmental Policy for further details.