Alcester-based Seco Tools Ltd
considers itself to be uniquely placed to make a strong contribution to the circular economy, which prioritises separating economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and designing ways to remove waste from our system of economic activity.
Though it is by no means the only aspect, recycling plays a vital role in the circular economy by asking us to look at how we use the earth’s scarce and finite resources, and what can be done to ensure that we extract maximum value and usage from them.
Recycling will be a key factor in Seco Tools reaching its ambitious goal of being 90% circular by the year 2030, with a number of broad changes to processes and business models leading the way.
Ted Forslund, Seco Tools sustainability and audit coordinator, said: “It is a challenging target, but we see this as very important for our company and our business. What is good for Seco Tools is that we already have very good recycling processes, so now it is about creating a good partnership with our clients so that they understand the value of us buying back tools, so that it becomes a closed circle where nothing goes to waste.”
Globally, only 8.6% of the resources we use are recycled, which means that over 90% of everything is used once and then disposed of. Due to the nature of Seco Tools’ business, the company is in a strong position to change that paradigm by buying back tools that have reached the end of their productive lives and recycling or repurposing them into new tools.
Mr Forslund continued: “If we increase that kind of trade where we buy back old and get customers to understand the advantages of it, we can reduce the climate impact as we will not need to use new materials and metals. It is a win-win in many ways.”
There is an ever-growing awareness of environmental concerns, and suppliers and customers are keen to see initiatives that address them.No drop-off in quality
He explained: “This has proved very positive so far with customers. They know that the tools we produce using recycled materials are of the same very high standard, that there is no drop-off in quality.
“There is now also a market for the buy-back of tools that have reached the end of their useful lives, and that is a positive thing for them too. It is about getting this into our business relationships in a positive way.”
In a circular economy recycling is very important, but it is also the last thing that should be done, reducing, repairing and reusing materials should come first.
Mr Forslund added: “This is one important component, but there are other aspects to the circular economy, and we have to look at them all.
“One of those is the lifecycle of our products – how can we design them so that they last a little longer, and that they can be recycled when they do reach the end of their useful lives? How can we produce them using renewable energy and sustainable supply chains? The essence of the circular economy is preserving the value that we have already created.”
Recycling helps in terms of minimising waste, but it is far from the only way to do so. There is a wide range of areas that can be analysed with a view to stopping the “leakage” of valuable resources – delivery chain logistics, sorting, warehousing, risk management, power generation, and even molecular biology and polymer chemistry.
Cost-efficient and better-quality collection and treatment systems and effective segmentation of end-of-life products will enable Seco Tools to support the economics of circular design.
One of the main problems in addressing issues to do with the environment and climate change has been the sheer scale of the task, but Mr Forslund believes that the Seco Tools goal of 90% circular by 2030 is attainable.
He said: “It is essential to work with our suppliers and customers in order to take on the global challenge. If we do, we can create more value with less waste within a safe operating space for our planet — again, it is a win-win situation.”
With its origins in Fagersta, Sweden and present in more than 75 countries, Seco Tools is a leading global solution provider of metal cutting solutions for indexable milling, solid milling, turning, holemaking, threading and tooling systems.
With the hands-on application advice of Seco Tools, the company has driven excellence for more than 80 years throughout the entire manufacturing process of manufacturers by ensuring high-precision machining and high-quality output.