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Recycling: Real Value

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Creation Paul Ure, managing director of Options Management looks at the business of recycling

t a time of fi nancial pressures, recession and ever increasing price squeezes it is diffi cult not to conform to tradition and make shor t term

management decisions that could in time signifi cantly harm future business growth. It takes ‘the brave’ to sustain quality services, invest in staff and product development or introduce new added value services for customers during hard times. Reduction in staff levels and cost cutting are often the normal path under such conditions and few would believe that an alternative offers a better solution. Value creation does just that. When looking back over the past decade, the vending

sector has been at the forefront with value creation, perhaps without knowing it. Examples that stand out include the introduction of more energy effi cient, more environmentally friendly and reliable equipment with subsequent lower running costs. Development and utilising advanced technology to reduce moving par ts in machinery and increase effi ciencies is also the norm. Bringing new, healthy varieties of drinks and snacks to the market, especially for schools, was anticipated by many vending companies ahead of other caterers. In addition to all of this the industry created Save a Cup to address the recovery and recycling of used cups, independent of outside pressures, to provide customers with an option that would make their life easier. Every penny spent on SAC and other developments were and remain an investment in the future. They represent real value creation. Options Management based in Newcastle under Lyme,

has always applied value creation where practical, with a focus on customer care and satisfaction. For some time now, our recycling service, directly linked with our vending operations, has been introduced to schools, offi ces and retail outlets. From the star t this was recognised as a long term project with return on investment materialising in many forms. The business model had to be structured to deliver a recurring revenue stream which could not centre totally on income from recovered materials. Existing recycling machines on the market were expensive and

often too sophisticated for UK markets. It was therefore necessary to offer a comprehensive range of machines, some made in the UK, some from Europe and others from the USA. This new element of business could not just centre on one customer group because customer circumstances vary, for example a hospital may have different requirements to a secondary school. To capture all customers called for a range of service packages to meet new needs as they arose, no different from the delivery of vending services. It became essential that customers were involved directly

and seductive incentive programmes not only rewarded recyclers but each organisation reaped benefi ts from recycling. To be ‘green’ is good for employees, corporate image and responsibilities and resulting cost saving against facility and waste management budgets is always attractive. In the education sector this is par ticularly attractive because funds are limited and in many cases sites can only introduce recycling with free-on-loan machines. Once installed the benefi ts become apparent; student habits change, litter on campus is reduced and the ‘protecting the environment’ ethos is over tly demonstrated. Evidence shows that by incorporating a recycling element in proposals has helped retain or win new contracts. This is real value! Turning bold new ideas into a sustainable reality is not

easy. Save a Cup for example has had a hard journey, with some members from time to time withdrawing suppor t. These colleagues take a shor t term view and could deny the sector the real long term benefi ts of having a viable industry recycling facility. Similarly product and brand owners have been backward in suppor ting us, their customers, to introduce innovative recovery services that will bring food and drink container recycling into the 21st Century. They are cer tainly not creating value for their customers

or the consumer. There remains scope for a supply chain par tnership in this area based upon involvement in true value creation for all par ticipants, especially our customers. I invite them to better understand the initiatives we are taking. In the meantime companies such as mine will continue to take a lead with recycling, based upon a sound long term business programme, working alongside Save a Cup. PU

...the last word

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