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Argos Distribution Centres find green solutions

in Smurfit Kappa recycling. The distribution centres behind retailing giant Argos are well on the way to achieving their 2010 Zero Waste to Landfill target thanks to a complete recycling solution for its cardboard and soft plastic wastes developed in partnership with Smurfit Kappa Recycling. In the past two years over 30,000 tonnes of cardboard have been saved from landfill, while seven Argos distribution centres have achieved IS014001 (the internationally respected standard for environmental management). Meanwhile carbon emissions have been minimised thanks to an intelligent use of back-haul systems in the logistics divisions of both companies.

Late 2005, Argos set itself the tough target of achieving zero waste to landfill by 2010 which led to a three year contract with Smurfit Kappa Recycling to provide a nationwide cardboard recycling solution. Argos stores throughout the UK now return their recyclable packaging waste back to one of the eight Argos distribution centres on returning vehicles that have delivered stock. Packaging waste material is then collected and segregated in wheeled roll-cages, before being fed into automatic baling presses where it is compacted to mill sized bales and loaded onto trailers at each site. Only when full, is the waste collected by Smurfit Kappa Recycling's transport division using a back-haul system to minimise carbon emissions. From here the cardboard is used in Smurfit Kappa paper mills in Kent and Birmingham where it is reprocessed and used throughout the company's supply chain, to produce new packaging materials.

Smurfit Kappa Recycling has also helped Argos develop a recycling solution for all damaged and unused catalogues and flyers which accumulate at its stores (including many old catalogues returned by customers as part of its in-store recycling scheme). These are now back-loaded and palletised (or sometimes compacted) at the distribution centres and then collected by Smurfit Kappa Recycling for re-processing at its paper mills.

As Argos explored other opportunities to divert more recyclable waste from landfill, it found that Smurfit Kappa Recycling's collection infrastructure also provided the perfect recycling solution for LDPE soft plastic (stretch wrap) and plastic pallet strapping.

Since the commencement of the Smurfit Kappa Recycling contract in September 2006, recycling levels across Argos distribution centres have risen by more than five per cent and over 30,000 tonnes of cardboard has been diverted from landfill. In addition to the environmental benefits, the sale of cardboard to Smurfit Kappa's paper mills has generated significant savings for Argos in revenue. Argos has already achieved IS014001 in over half of its DCs and is planning for all of them by then end of 2008/09.

“Waste and recycling is not the most glamorous end of the logistics world but it is a subject which has grown in importance over the past few years and more often finds itself on many CEOs' to do lists. Developing the right solution for Argos is a team effort, involving management, staff and the support of key suppliers like Smurfit Kappa Recycling,” says Mark Jones, Project Manager, Central Distribution, Argos.

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