Consumers are usually unaware of whether or not recycled content is a part of a product. By contrast the products in this case capitalise on the fact that they are made from material that used to be something else, for example drinks bottles, car parts and CD cases. In addition to their practical use, they share a dual purpose of promotion: to raise awareness of the value of recycling and to market companies, suggesting corporate responsibility through association.
Although plastic products made from recycled plastics use fewer resources than those made from virgin plastics, they still use resources in the manufacturing process: roughly the same resources as are used in creating the virgin material in the first place. Therefore these products do not have neutral carbon footprints. The question is: does their use/message justify the resources consumed in their making?
Remarkable, founded in 1996, has grown into a business valued now at £3 million. Its founder believes fervently in the environmental value of the business and even runs the factory on recycled cooking oil. He says:
- so many products advertising their former existences raise awareness of what is possible.
- the school packs help to inform the attitudes of future generations.
- the 12 million recycled pencils made in 2008 must by their sheer number be ousting pencils made from virgin, non-recyclable, materials from the market.
In 2004, Moonlight, a distributor, was the first UK firm to unite recycled and sustainable promotional products on a single website. The company states:
We understand that for recycling to fulfil its required potential, business markets for recycled products need to be developed and so we work with both manufacturers of and those who supply gifts made from recycled materials.
The bag below made by Greenpac UK Ltd of Greenspun, a fibre made from recycled PET bottles. A label makes its green credentials clear. The feel good factor engendered by these bags has an extra dimension. Not only do they promote an environmentally responsible image for Tesco and Cath Kidston but also a caring image: 50 pence per bag is donated to Marie Curie Cancer Care.