The circular economy within the packaging and printing industries

Proving sustainability credentials within the packaging industry is more important than ever – and one company has successfully grown its business with its unique circular economy offering.

Brian Smith, operations manager at JAG Products, admits the business’ concept is working so well that he can’t believe others weren’t doing it before. Not only does JAG Products supply a wide range of products into the packaging industry including blankets and roller washes, specialised cleaners, water based coatings and machine oil, but the company also collects all waste materials through its sister company, J&G Environmental.

Collection of waste happens at the same time as delivery, reducing the number of journeys and, consequently, saving the customer significant money. The waste materials are then recycled to make everything from dog bedding to biofuels.

Mr Smith said: “The concept of JAG is simply that we supply all of the products a packaging and printing company needs and collect all of the waste it creates. “For the first time, we have provided a one-stop shop. We’ve closed the loop. For companies trying to meet difficult sustainability ISO standards, it’s a huge benefit. It helps businesses cut their carbon footprint significantly. It is also much more convenient for companies as it means they are dealing with one business for their incoming products and their waste, ultimately producing cost-savings. Any FD or MD is interested in that and we have enjoyed year-on-year growth in each of the seven years we’ve been trading. I’m at a loss as to why no-one has done this before.”

Mr Smith said combined savings on incoming products and waste disposal can be substantial for larger operations. Another benefit of using the same company for both purchase and disposal is costs of disposal can be offset against purchases, meaning less invoices and improved cashflow.

JAG Products is a sister company of waste management heavyweight J&G Environmental which, in turn, is owned by CSG. CSG is a leading UK waste management company. J&G Environmental deals with the majority of waste materials from packaging companies and CSG steps in when specialist disposal is required, such as waste chemicals.

J&G is completely ISO compliant for 14001 Environmental and 45001 Health and Safety. Waste materials collected by JAG go on to new and interesting lives. The 150 litre plastic drums can be cleaned and re-filled indefinitely, but the 25 litre drums are porous and therefore do have a lifespan. Off-cuts from printing blankets can be treated and used to make children’s play mats, while ink cartridges are chipped, washed and used to make new white plastic products. Cardboard, plastic shrink and plastic cables are also collected and recycled, as well as silicones and inks. Used 25 litre containers are re-purposed to be used in plastic manufacturing, while chemicals are often re-born as biofuels.

Mr Smith said: “Through our partnership with J&G and CSG we are able to recycle all materials in a responsible and effective way. “There’s traceability there – you can see where everything has gone.”

JAG and J&G, which already boast a 92 per cent UK market share for aluminium waste disposal, both have ambitious growth plans in the decade to come.

“The pandemic was challenging but we stayed open and operational,” said Mr Smith. “We also started manufacturing our own water based cartridges with a £250,000 investment. We’re very proud of that.

“The partnership with CSG and J&G Environmental has been invaluable. CSG manging director Neil Richards is one of the most inspirational business leaders I have met. He has been helpful and understanding. I believe we would’ve got to where we are now without CSG – but it would’ve taken twice as long. We are looking to grow in the chemistry and coatings sectors and we’ve recently taken a significant order from Africa. We currently have 22 employees at JAG and we’re looking to expand the business and the team in the years to come.”