Waste Not, Want Not: How digital transformation improves resource recovery

  Pritesh Pattni


There are many pressures on businesses and organisations today. One of the most critical is the need to respond to the climate crisis, which brings risks on many fronts. From increasing regulation to the ethical expectations of stakeholders, businesses should already be looking at how they can manage the recovery, collection, reuse, and recycling of waste.

This approach to waste management and resource recovery helps businesses to start contributing to a more circular economy – one where the mining, excavation or creation of raw materials is minimised in favour of reduction and reuse.

Digital transformation drives change in this area. It provides solutions that both improve resource recovery and significantly reduce waste. Businesses can optimise processes, create material efficiencies, improve their environmental impact – all while maintaining and growing a profitable business.

There are several ways that digital transformation can impact better resource recovery:

Advanced data analytics 

Data is critical to successful digital transformation – and by association to the end outcomes for resource recovery. With visibility of all data, businesses gain insights into their operations and identify areas where waste can be minimised. For example, sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices monitor equipment performance in real-time, predicting failures before they occur and reducing downtime. This predictive maintenance not only extends the life of machinery but also prevents the wastage of raw materials that can result from unexpected breakdowns.

Smart processing 

Smart manufacturing and process management, enabled by digital technologies, plays a crucial role in improving resource recovery. For waste and recycling companies, for example, automation and robotics streamline production processes, allowing for more accurate weighing and sorting, and helping to establish and run secondary markets.

Circular economy models 

Digital transformation is a key driver of the transition to circular economy models, where products and materials are continuously repurposed, reused, and recycled. Blockchain technology, for instance, enhances transparency and traceability in supply chains, ensuring that materials are effectively tracked throughout their lifecycle. As producers are both encouraged and legislated to manage the entire lifecycle of their products, technology has a critical role to play in this transition.

Reducing waste, not profits 

Many businesses view digital transformation with suspicion – it feels expensive, complicated, and disruptive. The investment required and the time it may take to manage this transformation properly often puts businesses off.

All the while, however, poor technology infrastructure is costing the business money. Legacy IT systems, poor data visibility and the inability to offer innovative services to customers has an impact on the bottom line. And the longer these systems are left in place, the more it costs the business.

So, does investing in a thorough digital transformation programme support business growth? It’s clear that it does. Here are just three key reasons why:

1. Enhancing efficiencies and reducing costs

Automated systems and advanced analytics can pinpoint inefficiencies in resource use, enabling businesses to make informed decisions that lower waste and improve profitability. For example, in the waste and recycling sector, the right technologies can improve route planning, make collections more efficient and allow companies to open potential new income streams in secondary markets.

2. Sustainable supply chain management

Integrating digital tools gives companies greater visibility into their supply chains, identifying opportunities to reduce waste. For many companies, this is now a required element of environmental reporting, and so having real-time tracking and monitoring in place ensures that suppliers meet environmental requirements, and companies can report accurately. This enhances the overall efficiency and resilience of supply chains, reducing costs and improving profitability.

3. Customer engagement

Digital transformation also empowers businesses to engage with customers more effectively. A joined-up approach to customer service helps to deliver a competitive edge, allowing businesses to demonstrate their value, build customer loyalty and engage with potential new business.

Are you ready for digital transformation? 

All businesses need to make sure they are in the best possible position to deal with the commercial challenges of today and tomorrow. For both waste and recycling businesses and any organisation that needs to show a commitment to its environmental impact, using digital transformation to manage resource recovery, materials use, and end-of-life product issues is critical to long-term success. Don’t put it on the backburner: talk to one of our digital specialists today.

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