One of our main motivations for starting Down and Out in Bristol with Plastic was to figure out where our plastic goes after we’ve put it in the recycling. At the Living City talk we found an answer. Green Warehouse is a company that produces waste bins entirely out of recycled plastic. The company operates from an office in Hengrove and prides itself on it its green credentials. Founder of the company Will and his colleagues were kind enough to tell us a bit about what they do and how Green Warehouse works.
What was your motivation for starting Green Warehouse?
I wanted to make people aware of the environment and make products accessible. I started with a push mower; I have a background in product manufacture and liked the simplicity of cutting grass without electricity, man in nature kind of thing. I wanted to design my own but another company in Germany had already manufactured one so I started importing. The business grew from selling other ecological products. Recycle bins was a growing market and I noticed a need for a recycle bin that was ecologically minded and also looked great in the modern office.
What aspect of plastic waste and consumption was the biggest concern to you at the beginning of your venture?
Firstly I knew that the majority of recycle bins being sold in the UK where imported and used virgin plastic, this is a big carbon footprint and a drain on resources such as oil.
We looked at other materials as a replacement for virgin plastic including biodegradable, wood products, bamboo, paper, cardboard, we even looked ecological expanding foam. In the end the obvious choice was down to solving a problem of tonnes and tomes of unused post-consumer waste, availability, suitability as a material and manufacturing compatibility. It’s all about keeping this as simple as possible.
What aspect of plastic do you think is the most detrimental to humans and the environment?
Plastic in the sea and into the marine habitat, plastic microbe litter. This upsets me the most.
Where do you get the plastic from?
UK household waste, items like margarine tubs and shampoo bottles.
Do you monitor the levels of energy input and carbon emissions generated in the process of designing, making, and transporting your product?
We are currently investigating a full carbon footprint audit; however we are aware that uBin is making a saving in carbon as an alternative to other recycle bins.
We also monitor the tonnage of the material we use on a month by month basis. We are also pleased to announce our offices are in a low carbon certified warehouse.
How much of an impact do you think can be made if people rethink how they approach their plastic consumption and waste?
I think people can make a big difference, they could start by checking out recycling-guide.org.uk
How do you ensure your suppliers and partners use sustainable methods?
We specify manufacturing methods and material to a close level and choose people to work with that are green. For example by requesting polypropylene labels, we have expanded the market, by specifying and using recycled plastic this in turn invests in that industry.
Even when some of the ecological advances requested and are not possible at least the supplier understands there is a genuine demand for them.
Do you have any suggestions for what people should do with their old waste bins when replacing them with your product?
Please take them to a local recycling facility
Jenny (GW staff member) says- “You can pop one in the ground and fill with water in your garden making a small natural pond, within weeks you will have created a haven for insects, encouraging larger wildlife and birds, more insects, mean more pollination, this is especially important for bees. My Dad used one in his garden and now he has a frog!”
Do you patent your ideas – such as the non-harmful polypropylene stickers – or encourage other companies to use your ideas?
A lot of the developments are not patentable, but I don’t see this as being a problem, because the more manufactures and people make positive choices the better it will be for everyone!
And finally, what are you most looking forward to when Bristol becomes Green Capital 2015?
Having a celebrative pint of organic beer with George Ferguson!
Check out our Bristol Initiatives page for more companies doing great things for our environment!