How to market secondary raw materials obtained from the waste collection process.
By Samuele Barrili

The circular economy model is designed to reduce waste. However, implementing it is another game—one that involves you and your waste management company, or rather it should be. Unfortunately, many times, this is not happening. There are many reasons for this, from poor communication between different types of companies to the fact that, in general, the business model of waste management companies can be a bit old school.

Before we go in that direction, let me clarify what “designed to reduce waste” means because so many people talk about waste reduction, but unfortunately, do not have the knowledge about the process.
In fact, talking about waste reduction is something almost impossible. The amount of waste produced grows as the population and its needs grow. So, talking about waste reduction goes against world trends. However, there is another way to reduce the amount of waste by preventing it from being treated as such—the circular economy model. So, what does that mean? Management of waste and the raw materials is fundamental to the creation of the circular economy and the real reduction of waste—returning secondary raw materials to the production processes.

You may be asking “What is your point?” Implementing a process for sorting and enhancing the value of secondary raw materials is something that is fundamental to your waste collection and management business and an activity that offers a new life and a role in the market for your company.

Changing the Dynamics
You may have heard about or perhaps been affected by the material shortages that have characterized the markets—especially the commodity markets. Some of these shortages may have been avoided if, locally, there was recovery and regeneration of secondary raw materials from waste.

It is time to make this opportunity work, so you can change the dynamics of your waste management business and fully support the activation of the circular economy model. Although you may not have been involved in the circular economy conversation, it is now critical that you jump into the fray and engage local businesses.

As you may have guessed, it is critical that you initiate a process for waste collection and waste segregation within your facility. Undoubtedly initiating waste segregation with your customers is the first way to encourage a waste sorting process within your facility. Collecting waste that is already partially segregated from your “suppliers”, whether they are companies or citizens, gives you a way to start this change in a streamlined way within your facility. Secondary raw materials originate from careful sorting and equally careful processing in order to make them usable for manufacturing processes. It is precisely how these secondary raw materials get to market that makes the difference. The goal behind the meticulous separation of waste is the resale of secondary raw materials.

Compliance Requirements
When you go to sell any product, it is essential that it comes with compliance requirements. These requirements are even more important in the case of secondary raw materials. You do not want to offer substandard or shabby secondary raw materials.

First, you need to know what the requirements are for secondary raw materials that are obtained from the waste you collect. Get in touch with those locally who produce those products that, once waste, give rise to the secondary raw materials that originate in your facility.

Ask them what standards, if any, they require when purchasing raw materials for production. Identify which companies are in charge of certifying those standards and work with them, so that the secondary raw materials that come out of your plant are aligned with those standards. Throughout this process, you will be able to create a desirable product for the production market and, at the same time, take your company in a new direction: the sale of secondary raw materials.

Marketing Your Materials
Whenever we talk about selling, there are always competitors, who in this case will be the producers of the raw materials as well as someone else who, before you, has initiated a process to obtain
secondary raw materials that meet the required standard for production.

This is where marketing comes in. Marketing, which as I have already mentioned in the other articles in this column, is a process aimed at selling a good/service to a specific group of people. Starting with this definition, it is clear that it becomes essential to initiate a marketing process that positions your company in the secondary commodity market.

Remember how I opened this article? “The circular economy model is designed to reduce waste.” It is from this thought process that starting your marketing plan must define the importance of secondary raw materials and it conforms in quality, performance, characteristics, etc., to the standards required for the production of those goods.

Here is where the sustainability factor will come into play. It is precisely in terms of sustainability that your marketing will have to reiterate how much material, how much pollution, and how much CO2 (for example) is saved by the production process whenever secondary raw materials are used.

These actions will turn your the attention to those potential customers who want to make their companies sustainable and will therefore prefer to have their production process powered by
secondary raw materials.

Your marketing will also have to act in shutting down their biggest concern: continuity of supply. More than ever, this is an important point. Even more so when it comes to secondary raw materials since not having control over the source makes it difficult to ensure continuity. Make sure that you convey peace of mind by reassuring the customer that, thanks to your approvals process, he or she does not run any risk. (On the waste side, you must start a marketing process that allows you to have a constant flow of waste coming in.)

Do not talk about how much material is coming in or how much you process per day—that may turn off their interest. Instead, your marketing should touch on the importance of creating a synergy
between your company and the production company so that the flow of material to be processed is always constant and growing. This is an aspect at the heart of the sustainability that companies are looking for. In fact, being included in a circularity process will make the client’s company gain a greater economic valuation as well as producing a real benefit for everyone.

A Business Model Shift
Moving from waste collection to waste management offers the possibility of positioning oneself in the market as a reseller of secondary raw materials. Positioning that needs to be supported by specific marketing actions both at the waste collection and treatment stage and, more importantly, at the secondary raw material resale stage. The benefits? A business model shift aligned with what has been identified in the circular economy model and in line with the sustainability key sought by manufacturing companies.

Above all, it gives your waste management company an advantage that can derive real economic benefit from the resale of secondary raw materials and, at the same time, position itself in a new and emerging market—that of secondary raw material resellers. Become an active part of the circular economy and thrive. | WA

Samuele Barrili is an Italian Marketer, TVHost, Podcaster, and Author. Born in Cagliari, Italy, Samuele began his career as a salesman in 2010. After earning a degree in Toxicological Chemistry at the University of Cagliari (Sardinia), he decided to dedicate himself to studying and discovering the art of sales. After nine years in the field, working as sales and marketing manager for national and international firms involved in chemicals, electromechanical, and waste management, Samuele created MiM Marketing Interim Managers, the first interim company focused on marketing for waste management companies. MiM company originates from the combination of the knowledge of chemistry combined with the knowledge of direct response marketing. Marketing4Waste is the first marketing service totally dedicated to waste management companies. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit