It is with a huge beaming smile and immense pride that we can announce we have won the Circular Economy Project of the Year by the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards. This is a just reward for how active and determined we have been to succeed in our Zero Waste to Landfill Project. This is a special occasion for our directors, who have been in the constant pursuit of a more environmentally friendly house clearance service since Just Clear was founded.
For many businesses, achieving zero-to-landfill often means simply setting up a recycling system and finding an alternative route for general waste, rather than landfill. For us, a business who deals with literally taking other people’s junk, every single day, the challenge has been a mountain, rather than a molehill.
The category for Circular Economy Project of the Year is incredibly tough this year, and we offer our congratulations and the best of luck to all those shortlisted. All of these businesses have made massive contributions to the circular economy, and in doing so have made a big difference socially and environmentally. The other finalists were:
- AECOM, Major Infrastructure Resource Optimisation Group Project
- Company Shop, Tackling Food Waste and Food Poverty Project
- DLL, Lifecycle Asset Management Program
- Interface, PVB Recycling Project
- JPA Furniture, Second Life Furniture Scheme
- O2, Recycle, Refresh, Eco-rating and Refurb Project
- PwC, Going Circular Project
- Toyota Material Handling Europe, Second Life Strategy
- Veolia, Resourcing the World Project
- WRAP, Hospitality and Food Service Agreement
And of course, us!
- Just Clear, Zero Waste to Landfill Project
If you don’t know us already, Just Clear are property clearance specialists, with over 25 years of industry experience and an eco-friendly outlook on the industry. We are recognised among our peers as one of the most fundamentally progressive and ‘green’ house clearance companies in the UK. We are the first to completely avoid the use of landfills, a fact we share with pride. It has taken a regimented assessment of our waste stream, and the forging of many impressive contracts to recycle everything, but now that we’re here, it feels great. In the last twelve months alone, we have spared over 2,000 tonnes of property clearance waste from landfill, and in the process, encouraged recycling solutions to pop up all around us. Our charitable actions have been recognised graciously by businesses, people and animals charities alike, and long may we continue to benefit our community socially. Now, we are being recognised by ‘BusinessGreen’ for our contributions to a Circular Economy.
The fundamental goal of Just Clear in 2015/16 was to reach a state of zero-to-landfill from our house clearance activities. It’s unusual for a business like ourselves, who go about day-to-day collecting unwanted junk, to have reached a stage where nothing goes to landfill. In fact, it’s not just unusual, it’s unprecedented. It’s been a really testing challenge; we’ve had to forge so many unique relationships, find avenues for unwanted items that others hadn’t thought of, and constantly seek out solutions.
The environmental and economic benefits of zero-to-landfill are there to be seen. Rising landfill taxes and the rate at which they are filling up are two indicators that we are pushing in the right direction. By sparing our collected waste from the landfill, we can pass on cost savings to customers, as well as ease their conscience with the second life of their unwanted items.
By reaching 100% landfill avoidance, we also hope to challenge and encourage our competitors to do the same, but we can forewarn them of the challenges. Already they will know about the difficult items, such as mattresses, old TVs and tattered sofas, but they may not know that there are ways of recycling these. We found solutions through organisations and people with common problems and common goals.
Recycling has been a huge activity for our business, and for our employees too, who have gone above and beyond to delicately separate the waste stream. We are recycling plastic and paper on a daily basis, sending all wood to Eddie Stobart Biomass, sending metal and fridges to EMR Recycling, clothes to clothes banks, and we are working with a selection of amazingly conscious charities and reuse networks to help rehome unwanted furniture and kitchen equipment. We are now handling over 40 tonnes of waste per week and cannot express enough how amazing it is to keep all of that from being buried.
Possibly the most difficult item to recycle was TVs, mainly due to the lead in their screens, but we found a way. It was thanks to Sweeep Kuusakoski, who installed the world’s first leaded glass furnace to recycle CRT glass TV and computer screens in Kent. This process has no emissions, creates no waste and avoids exporting hazardous material from the UK. To add to that, they have secured sustainable recycling routes for all three materials separated in the recycling process.
To best explain our circular economy principles, consider this anecdote. We were contacted by a hotel that needed a total clearance; from the penthouse suite down to the basement. We are talking about thousands of mattresses, duvets, pillows, sheets and much more. We managed to recycle a massive portion of it in a charitable way, providing dog bedding to a local animal shelter. There may have been a more profitable route for many of these items, but it was vital to our corporate social responsibility to do the right thing.
The key message to be learned from our activities is ‘don’t give up’. We’ve been competing against ourselves instead of watching over our shoulder. We are our own biggest rival, and we fiercely drove ourselves through education, innovation, relationship building and environmental policies to reach the golden 100% landfill avoidance figure. Other businesses can do it, but they need to find the time, find the solutions and also think not only about making money, but making the world a better place to live in. Who knows, we may end up clearing items, rehoming them, and then clearing them again one day, but that’s ok, as long as they are going to good use. We’ve found the demand for eco-friendly house clearances to be astonishing, and our London based service is now inundated with enquiries all over the UK. This should serve as strong encouragement to our competitors to consider the appeal of a greener waste stream and disposal habits.
This award means a huge amount to everyone at Just Clear, from the bottom to the top. It’s hard to imagine that others have been through as much toil and brainstorming in the zero-to-landfill process as we have. As a business that inherently collects waste, it is universally assumed that most of the clearance items get thrown on a pile somewhere and sent away. We want to break this stereotype for the future of our industry, and if it takes sleepless nights and countless hours spent researching and subsequently negotiating, so be it.
We’ve been in this business for over 25 years, and in that time we’ve seen the whole landscape of house clearance change. More recently, we’ve come to realise that we can inspire this change through innovative recycling channels and solutions. It’s hard to imagine many waste businesses handle the impressive diversity of materials and items we do, and would have the contact book to find outside-the-box solutions for bulk waste. To get to where we are has been hard, but it needn’t be as hard for other businesses trying to get there, as much of the leg-work has already been done. The solutions we’ve pushed for will now open doors to our competitors, and we are grateful for this, as we are all in it together. When it comes to landfill avoidance, we can put business competition aside and recognise that we have an environmental and social duty first and foremostly.
The 6th of July awards will give us a chance to have our name in front of many people in this industry who never thought it possible that a waste clearance company could completely avoid landfill. We will have our name in front of business leaders who also constantly desire self-improvement for their business, and in particular through their ‘green activities’, thus driving forward the industry we have dedicated our lives to. If the Circular Economy involves creating useful things from waste byproducts, then this award would be a byproduct of our zero-to-landfill accomplishments.
Thank you for reading, and to all our clients and friends!