Welcome back to our Everyone’s Exeter guest blog series, focusing each of the 12 Goals. We will be hearing from business leaders on the impact that the featured goal will have on their business and what their organisations are already doing to tackle the goal.
I’m Philippa Roberts, co-founder and CEO of Binit, an Exeter-based start-up trying to change the way that waste services are delivered.
I’ve spent 25 years trying to stop plastics getting in the oceans ever since I worked on a sea turtle project as a starry-eyed 19-year old.
Whilst it now feels like I made no impact whatsoever on that particular problem, I am proud of working in an industry that can have such a positive impact.
There’s always been value in waste. Those of us in the industry have always viewed waste as a resource, with reuse and recycling being the obvious examples of that. However, the change in public awareness over the last 2 years has been incredible, and with it, a shift in what consumers are demanding. After decades spent in the waste industry, it is fantastic to see people leading the change while government lags far behind. The dynamic start-ups you see in the Greater Exeter area are inspirational examples of individuals turning this passion for change into viable businesses.
I set Binit up to try to get litter off the streets (and therefore our oceans) and to reduce HGV movements in our built-up areas. Ostensibly, Binit empties your bins. We provide brilliant recycling and rubbish services for businesses. However, we are a circular economy business at heart and that means we are always trying to challenge the way that we do things.
Recognise these snazzy bins from across the city!?
So, for example, we will try to increase the % of recycling that your company does, in a cost-effective way; but what waste management company isn’t doing that? The bit that I am interested in, is the triple bottom line impacts: financial, environmental and social. So, for example, we are working on a project at the moment with University of Exeter, Exeter City Council and InExeter (the business improvement district) around compostable packaging and products.
If waste is to be a resource, then each material needs to circulate at its highest value for as long as possible. For plastics and fibres (paper and card), that means there is a limit to the number of times they can be recycled into a viable product. For paper and card, as organic materials, this is less important and the materials can be returned to the earth, which is restorative and truly circular. Plastics, however are another story and one that we are all too familiar with.
The best resource then has to be one that is net positive, that can go back into the earth to produce yet more, or to soak up more carbon. For too long environmentalism has been about trying to stop the damage. Finally it feels like it is about doing something positive. This is why the circular economy is so exciting for me personally, as it is relevant to everyone, not just those that can afford it. It is doable and inspires for a brighter, productive future. But in order to move to a circular economy, waste has to be more than just a resource, it has to be a positive resource.
We want to support businesses in the region that want to displace plastic products with compostables. At the moment, the majority of compostable packaging and products in the region won’t be composted. Our project with the partners mentioned above is set to change that. We are researching the best ways to turn these resources back into positive products, that can fertilise our soils without chemicals, improve soil structure and retention and support our regional agriculture.
This local, circular approach is what makes Binit special. Being in an entrepreneurial, supportive, challenging environment like Exeter is what makes it possible. So if you’ve got waste you’re worried about, or packaging you want to change, come and join us on this journey.
Let’s write the word waste out of our vocabulary once and for all! #ExeterCan #BinitBetter
Keep up to date on all the latest news, events and information from Binit, over ontheir Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/binituk
Find out about our Everyone’s Exeter campaign and how you can get involved: www.exetercityfutures.com/everyonesexeter