Having provided a nationwide eco-friendly approach to junk removal for commercial, domestic and trade clients for over eight years, Just Clear has been named Circular Economy Project of the Year at the annual BusinessGreen Leaders Awards.
Just Clear differentiates itself by ensuring all the wide array of material they collect is separated, then re-used or recycled, offering an example of circular economy thinking at its best.
Founder and MD of Just Clear, Brendan O'Shea, says: "While we have been in the business for over eight years, the fundamental goal of Just Clear over the last two years was to reach a state of zero-to-landfill from our property clearance activities, which we have now achieved.
"In the last twelve months alone, Just Clear has spared over 2,000 tonnes of property clearance waste from landfill. It hasn't been easy - we've had to forge so many unique relationships, find avenues for unwanted items that others hadn't thought of and constantly challenge ourselves to find solutions.
"The environmental and economic benefits of zero to landfill are there to be seen. We are moving things in the right direction, addressing rising landfill taxes and the rate at which they are filling up. By sparing our collected waste from the landfill, we are passing on cost savings to customers, as well as easing their conscience with the second life of their unwanted items.
"By reaching 100 per cent landfill avoidance, we are also hopefully challenging and encouraging our competitors to do the same, but we can forewarn them of the challenges. Already they will know about difficult items, such as mattresses, old TVs and tattered sofas, but they may not be aware of ways to recycling these. We found our solutions through organisations and people with common problems and common goals."
As an example of Just Clear's circular economy principles: a hotel in Mayfair, London, which needed a total clearance from penthouse suite down to the basement, contacted the company. Thousands of mattresses, duvets, pillows, sheets, furniture, fixtures and fittings were collected.
A large portion was recycled through charities, including providing dog bedding to a local animal shelter. The waste stream was then delicately separated, with plastic and paper distributed on a daily basis through secured sustainable recycling routes. Wood went to Eddie Stobart Biomass, metal and fridges to EMR Recycling and clothes to clothing banks. The organisation also works closely with a selection of reuse networks to rehome unwanted furniture and kitchen equipment.
Traditionally the most difficult item to recycle was televisions and computers, largely due to the lead in their screens. However, in 2012, a company in Kent called Sweeep Kuusakoski, installed the world's first leaded glass furnace to recycle cathode ray tube (CRT) glass screens. This process has no emissions, creates no waste and avoids exporting hazardous material from the UK and now recycles all Just Clear's electronics.
Mr O'Shea adds: "To get to where we are has been difficult, but it needn't be as hard for other businesses trying to get there as much of the leg work has already been done. The solutions we've pushed for will now open doors to our competitors, and we are grateful for this, as we are all in it together. When it comes to landfill avoidance, we can put business competition aside and recognise we have an environmental and social duty first and foremost.
"The key message to be learned from our activities is 'don't give up'. We've been competing against ourselves instead of watching over our shoulder. We are our own biggest rivals and we fiercely drove ourselves through education, innovation, relationship building and environmental policies to reach the golden 100 per cent landfill avoidance figure.
"We've found the demand for eco-friendly house clearances to be astonishing and our London based service is now inundated with enquiries from all over the UK. This should serve as strong encouragement for our competitors to consider the appeal of a greener waste stream and disposal habits."
Highly commended in the same category for their efforts were: O2, Recycle, Refresh, Eco-rating and Refurb Project.