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Bury St Edmunds recycling champion visits pioneering company Precision Marketing Group

If you are a loyalty-card holder, a member of a professional body or a national society, you will be familiar with the thud of journals, magazines and catalogues arriving through the post.

Until recently these have generally been packaged in stretchy plastic polythene wrap. However, if your letterbox deliveries have been anything like mine, you may have noticed the wrapper has experienced a bit of a makeover.

Some have switched to paper envelopes, others have ditched the wrapper completely and the remainder is slowly changing to home-compostable film, made from potato starch. This, in part, has been due to the effect of the David Attenborough series, Blue Planet II, where consumer awareness of the impact of plastic packaging suddenly went viral.

Recycling champion Karen Cannard(9162965)
Recycling champion Karen Cannard(9162965)

Precision Marketing Group is a Bury St Edmunds business that, as well as other services, specialises in customer mailing fulfilment on behalf of service providers, retailers and membership organisations, despatching over 40 million items per year. I visited the company in 2015 to find out more about their recycling ambitions and this April I had the opportunity to catch up with chief operating officer Nick Pryke regarding how things have progressed. Naturally, before we even got on to the subject of recycling, I was keen to hear
more about how changes in demand for more sustainable wrapping has impacted on their business.

As we tour the production area, Nick tells me: “With many other green processes and decision-making already hard-wired into our business, client requests have helped us to drive changes even further.

“Six months ago, following an initial trial, we introduced to our customers a new compostable film manufactured from potato starch. Up to one third of our
clients have already made the
switch, with some changing instantly”.

Nick points to a conveyer-belt, adding: “Some clients have even chosen to ditch the wrapper completely.”

I notice the distribution line of gardening catalogues being printed with addresses, which are then packed straight into mail bags. Nick adds that, for extra protection during delivery, some catalogues require a small round tab to seal the pages. This is another great example of the company’s ‘eye for detail’. The tabs used to be made from polypropylene but wanting to reduce plastic waste further, Precision now use paper alternatives.

Elsewhere, automatic machines and staff are busy inserting a batch of brochures into paper envelopes – FSC sourced, of course, just like all of Precision’s paper products.

As we move on to recycling, Nick highlights the central waste bin, a standard commercial 1,200l wheelie bin, which for an operation of this size remarkably only needs emptying every fortnight. By contrast, the more numerous recycling points are emptied daily, with the contents packed into the in-house baling machines – one for cardboard and the other, polythene. When you’re in the business of recycling 18 tonnes of cardboard per year and 3.5 tonnes of polythene, a baler brings many benefits, helping to reduce storage and transportation space as well as creating a baled product that can be sold on.

Unsurprisingly, the other key recycling stream is paper, which amounts to 218 tonnes over 12 months, enabling trimmed edges and offcuts from Precision’sprint-finishing business to be captured for reprocessing as well as outputs from the main office.

In a sector that has traditionally been resource-heavy, it is encouraging to hear how changes are being made at the top of the waste-hierarchy, such as switching to wrapper-free deliveries etc. And it goes much further. Catalogues or brochures, printed elsewhere but delivered to Precision for distribution, are nowgenerally delivered unboxed and/or without shrink-wrapping.

The way in which Precision is addressing the challenges of its core service is just one part of their story. The company’s investment in solar panels, water reduction and energy saving processes is another.

Nick tells me: “We do this because our customers want us to do it, we want to do it and it is the right thing to do. By addressing the things that we can resolve quickly, the rest just become mini-challenges that we try to overcome.”

For more information, visit www.precisionmarketinggroup.co.uk or follow on Twitter @PrecisionMG

n Please note that compostable packaging should be composted at home and not added to council garden waste collections. More info on home composting, including details of offers, can be found at https://www.suffolkrecycling.org.uk/reduce-your-waste/home-composting

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