The future’s green

Mark Daisley, MD of ExaClair, discussed in April 2019’s edition of Dealer Support why recycled office products have become more popular than ever – and why it makes sense to get involved

You can’t have failed to notice the ‘plastic backlash’ over the past few years, from supermarkets charging for their plastic bags to legislation against microbeads in face and body scrubs. David Attenborough, and the horrifying exposure of the problem of plastic in our oceans, has helped to catapult the subject into the forefront of public consciousness – and not just for the so-called ‘eco-warrior’; there is now an expectation that we must all take responsibility for the plastic we consume. And rightly so.

It, therefore, stands to reason that independently-certified, environmentally-friendly, recycled stationery has seen a surge in popularity. Dealers are required to offer recycled options for the full suite of office products whereas, previously, ranges centred around folders and basic filing products. It is now entirely possible to kit out an office with environmentally-friendly products – from notebooks and pads to magazine racks, bins and desktop drawers.

ExaClair’s Forever Blue Angel certified PP range is a case in point, with sales up 15% in 2018 and projections for this year set to build on this by 20%-to-30%. The range, which won product of the year at the 2018 Vow Venture Awards, is made entirely from plastic bottles and includes ring binders, dividers, display books, desktop accessories, pen pots, magazine files, bins, letter trays and desktop drawers. After all our recent exhibitions, it is this range that is drumming up the most interest and enquiries.

There was a time that you had to pay to get your waste taken away, but this changed after it became apparent how valuable waste was to the manufacturing industry. The result was that it was bought up in bulk, and obtaining the raw materials to manufacture recycled goods became very expensive. Combine this with more complex manufacturing and increased working hours, and it became hard to sell recycled ranges at a cost that budget-strapped procurement departments were willing to pay for.

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Part of the reason for their recent increased use is that manufacturing costs have gone down. Processes have been advanced so that more and more types of plastic can be recycled; for example, fridge plastic is now regularly used to create recycled goods.

ExaClair owns its own manufacturing facilities and so is able to sell waste back to its own mills; importantly, this means it has complete control over manufacturing processes and can ensure it obtains the Blue Angel and PEFC independent certification that is so important to the environmentally-conscious stationery buyer.

The popularity of recycled ranges has increased across the board, but particularly in government sectors and within supermarket tenders. Customers are asking about recycled ranges more and more, and it has become increasingly likely that tenders will include environmentally-friendly criteria. There are also some dealers who only sell recycled products – which is a real sign of how important recycled stationery has become.

We think the market will get bigger and bigger, with more advances in technology and processes and, crucially, increased demand.

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