Recycling and recovery

Unboxing the benefits of cardboard re-use scheme



Waste prevention by reusing cardboard boxes

EVRi generates a significant amount of cardboard waste from packaging and deliveries. Committed to minimising waste and maximising resource efficiency, SUEZ and EVRi embarked on a unique initiative in July 2023 – the cardboard re-use project.

The project aimed to collect cardboard boxes, including sturdy ones used for international shipping, and prepare them for re-use. Instead of being recycled, these boxes are carefully preserved, sorted, and palletised for re-use by other companies. This not only promotes sustainability, but also generates additional revenue streams and increases social value creation. The boxes are sold to businesses that required heavy-duty cardboard boxes and are interested in a more environment-friendly options and second-hand shipping boxes meet this requirement.

Implementation of a comprehensive cardboard re-use scheme

SUEZ, with its expertise in waste processing and logistics, worked closely with EVRi in developing a well-defined operational strategy. Together, they identified efficient cardboard capture processes at designated pickup points. Key steps include:

  • Collection: cardboard boxes are separated from other waste materials at EVRi hubs and depots every two weeks using SUEZ’s transport facilities.
  • Box preservation: the boxes are carefully emptied to prevent damage and ensure these are suitable for re-use.
  • Sorting: boxes are sorted based on box types (i.e. size and quality) to avoid unnecessary sorting later.
  • Palletisation: the sorted boxes are secured into pallets for efficient transportation.

EVRi saw the value of investing in auto-pallet wrappers to speed up the process and dedicated transport equipment for smooth operations and improve productivity. Additionally, partnerships with carefully selected brokers and exploration of direct sales channels ensured a robust market for the reused boxes.

Environmental wins, financial gains, social value success

The cardboard re-use scheme has yielded impressive results within a short timeframe. Estimates suggest a potential CO2 saving of 2.5 kilotonnes per year, based on a 40% re-use rate, compared to recycling.

From July 2023 to January 2024, EVRi has seen a steady rise in extra rebate payments. This essentially means increased revenue generated by reusing cardboard instead of more traditional method of recycling.

Investment in equipment like auto-wrappers is increasing efficiency of the project, while reducing labour and manual handling needs. Thanks to strategic account management, SUEZ helped EVRi to create five times more value from cardboard by shifting treatment method from recycling to re-use at the same time adding to the customer’s already robust portfolio of sustainable revenue streams.

In addition to additional revenue, the project created an opportunity for returns on social value by creating additional employment opportunities. Between SUEZ and EVRi seven new job opportunities have been created, so this re-use scheme is a great example of triple bottom line approach – where and the customer are balancing the interests of people, planet and profit.

Opportunity for our suppliers

We are now asking our suppliers if they would like to take part in this sustainable initiative and reuse these boxes in their supply chains. If your company is interested in taking park then please contact us.