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The 7 R’s of Sustainability

27th September 2021 Mark Prior 0 Comments


The World’s waste problem is reaching catastrophic levels. The World generates in excess of 2 billion tonnes of waste every year and it is estimated that by the year 2050 it will rise by 70% to 3.4 billion tonnes if we don’t ACT NOW!

Have you ever stopped to think what 3.4 billion tonnes looks like?

It’s equivalent to the weight of 410 Million of these beauties! 410,000,000


Now of course, this isn’t something that can be resolved overnight or indeed by one individual. But even small individual actions count and can make a real difference.

If we can eliminate or as a minimum, dramatically reduce the waste that each individual generates, then this alone would reduce the need for landfills, decrease pollution, save wildlife worldwide, improve our own health and help to save this beautiful planet of ours! We All Have A Part To Play…

To do this will require more than just Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The 3 Rs of sustainability have now become 7.

What are the 7 R’s?


One of the most significant ways you can reduce waste is to refuse waste! Waste is not just single-use plastics that can’t be recycled or reused. Waste can also be food!


We all know about the benefits of reusable shopping bags, using your own coffee cup or thermos at a coffee shop or upcycling glass containers for food storage. But, what about those items that you just don’t need anymore! A dress, a pair of shoes, a set of kitchen utensils.  Our first thought is to send them off to the landfill site, but why not sell them or share them. The chances are that someone else would love to use it or wear it! By extending the life of your item, you are keeping it out of landfill for longer.


‘Think before you buy’! Zero waste living will not be attainable for most, but if we all ‘reduce’ the amount of waste in circulation, we reduce the need for landfill sites, we reduce the pollution in the air and the toxins and waste being sent to our oceans.

The next time you are making a purchase, large or small, ask yourself:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Could I get this second hand from a charity shop or Facebook marketplace?
  • Could I buy this elsewhere with less packaging?


Isn’t this the same as reusing? No! They’re significantly different actually! While reusing means to use something over and over for its original purpose, re-purposing is using an object again but for a totally different purpose – so, a warehouse pallet is re-purposed as a garden bench, or an item of clothing is repurposed as a cushion cover for the sofa!

Repurposing benefits you and the planet in so many different ways – from saving raw materials, to saving energy and saving money, to name just a few!


In today’s throw-away society, it is all too easy and cheap to throw something away when it breaks and purchase another one. But just one simple change of repairing it, could make a huge difference. We all need to push back against a disposable culture and if it isn’t something you can do yourself, then check out ‘fixer collectives’ that are now springing up in many areas.


Farmers around the world refer to compost as ‘Black Gold’, but due to a serious lack of understanding and knowledge of the subject, it is estimated that 167 million tons of compostable materials are thrown in our landfills every year!


For many, ‘Recycling’ is the first port of call, ‘the answer’ to all our problems, but in reality, recycling should be ‘a last resort’! A truly sustainable approach should always start with Refuse | Reuse | Reduce.

When we learn how to compost our food scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, newspapers, eggshells, and grass clippings etc… we learn how to help plants and food crops grow, whilst reducing the need for chemical fertilisers. You can use the compost on your own garden or donate it to a local community garden or allotment.

What are Mercian Labels doing to help?

In March of this year, we were awarded the internationally recognised ISO 14001:2015 certification for our Environmental Management System.

As a World Class manufacturer of Labels, and one that takes Sustainability and its Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) very seriously, we wanted to offer our customers something new and innovative that would help them to contribute to a circular economy and make a real difference to the future of our planet!

So, at the beginning of August we launched a genuine ‘closed-loop’ Label Liner Recycling Service, meaning that our Customers can now return Mercian Labels liner waste, where it will be checked, collated, and sent off to the pulping plant to be turned back into release liner and paper.

As a result of this initiative, we are confident that we will recycle around 100 tonnes of liner waste in the first year alone. To put that into context:

  • The Boeing 757-200 weighs an average of 100 tonnes
  • An Orca (Killer Whale) averages 90 tonnes
  • The Blue Whale averages 140 tonnes

100 tonnes of Label Liner Waste is equal to 228 tonnes of CO2. 228 tonnes of prevented CO2 emissions is equal to:

  • 6 averaged sized cars being driven for a year
  • A fraction over 573 thousand miles driven by an averaged sized car

For Mother Nature (Carbon Sequestration) to capture and store that same amount of CO2 would need:

  • 3,770 tree seedlings grown over a 10-year period

Now that’s an ROI worth having!