Case Studies

Smart Recycling

Background and circular economy

Launched in 1998, Smart Recycling is an environmentally focused business group that transforms timber, green and builders’ waste into recycled pallets, timber packaging, landscaping, and building products.

Smart Recycling seeks optimal use and value retention of pallets to place themselves on the circular economy value hill. They demonstrate a championing level of maturity in the circular economy (23/25) through their implemented circular business model. The improvements in circular economy practices include raising awareness of industry environmental impacts and having an efficient environmental management system.

Drivers for circular economy adoption

The founder's personal values and passion for sustainability was the primary driver. He had also seen the business potential of producing quality products by incorporating timber waste to lead the industry for sustainability.

Circular economy practices adopted

  • Refuse to collect plastic waste
  • Refuse plastic pallets
  • Refuse hazardous material
  • Electricity generation via solar panels
  • Wastewater collection is used for washing pallets
  • Use of electric forklifts
  • Resell re-usable pallets
  • Repair the pallets that need some work (e.g., re-nailing)
  • Pallets that need major work (e.g., replace beams) are refurbished
  • Remanufacture pallets from damaged pallet components
  • Damaged components is converted to wood chips for landscaping
  • Lower-grade wood chips are used to fuel a burner that generates steam

Company changes with the adoption of circular economy

While the land it is based on was used as a landfill since the 1960s, Smart Recycling was established to adopt the circular economy model from its inception.

Barriers and challenges

Barriers and challenges include:

  • Less production efficiency due to extra processes involved
  • Securing waste streams as inputs
  • Customers/suppliers’ attitudes towards transport costs when returning products
  • Reverse logistics and carbon footprints
  • Customers’ reluctance to pay fair costs for an environmentally friendly product
  • Lack of policy and regulation to drive the circular economy adoption
  • Inconsistencies in standards and regulations from different government bodies

Critical success factors for circular economy

Critical success factors include:

  • Owner's vision and commitment
  • Viable business model that integrates environmental perspective with entrepreneurial thinking
  • Circular journey as a long-term strategy
  • Digitalisation of the sourcing process
  • Collaboration with stakeholders and construction companies
  • Knowledge sharing to change supplier/customer mindset

Benefits of adopting a circular economy

Smart Recycling have grown and gain economic benefits, while also creating a better environment for staff. Externally, providing a product that fits the purpose at a cheaper price to the customer and thereby retaining appreciative customers.

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