We challenge you to consider whether your current lost and found process is sustainable

Sustainability is defined as the ‘avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance’. Therefore, a sustainable lost and found process should aim to take little resources whilst also not contributing to unnecessary waste.

This blog will outline the often-complicated nature of handling lost property but ultimately how simple it is to ensure you have a sustainable lost property process.

The current lost property situation

A lot of stuff goes missing when we’re visiting places like shopping centres, attractions, hotels or simply using public transport. It’s human nature and happens to all of us.

Luckily, most of the time, organisations have a suitable lost property process in place to ensure items found on their premises are kept safe and that owners can get them back.

However, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
For example, the owner may assume the item is lost for good and quickly replace it. Maybe it’s of little monetary or emotional value so not worth chasing. Perhaps the organisation doesn’t make it very clear how to go about contacting them about lost property, or they simply don’t have a process at all.

In both instances, whether the item is returned to owner or not, we believe the process must be sustainable from start to finish.

Lost item pile of phones

So, what happens to the lost property that isn’t returned to owners?

Firstly, we’ll consider the situation whereby the item cannot be returned to the owner.

After a certain amount of time, often between 1-6 months depending on the venue or the item, unclaimed lost property will need to be disposed of. How this is done is key.

NotLost believes we should tread lightly in everything we do. This means that lost property should not be yet another source of new landfill waste.

Therefore, we believe it is our responsibility to make sure our clients, and ultimately all organisations, recycle, reuse, sell-on or donate all items of lost property. We are committed to delivering a process as close to zero-waste as we can.

How to dispose of / recycle old lost property

It’s not too hard to recycle lost property. Here’s how to dispose of the 3 most commonly lost items that you might have hanging about in your lost property cupboard.

  1. Cards – debit/credit cards, driving licences, travel cards… any card in your wallet that is made of plastic and very easily slips out of your pocket! Here’s how to dispose of these.
  2. Phone cables/chargers or other electronics – we need them for everything but they’re very commonly lost! Here’s how to dispose of these. 
  3. Water bottles – we’re talking the reusable ones that are all the range… yet get left behind so easily! Here’s how to dispose of these. 

Why not also explore our full list of handy hints on how to dispose of all lost property you could come across?
We cover what to do with documents, clothing, electronics, glasses, keys, makeup, medication, passports and more in our Ultimate Guide!

The key thing here is to be forward-thinking and innovative. Look for local solutions, from recycling hubs to charity partners.

Recycling options charity partners and recycling hubs

How else can I make my lost and found process sustainable?

On the flip side, items do get returned to owners the large amount of the time!
In this case, there are some things to consider about your current end-to-end process of handling lost property.

For example, could the way you take enquiries be improved to be more sustainable? Replace paper methods of noting lost item enquiries with a handy digital, online lost report form. Say goodbye to the pile of random papers with various bits of information on them.

Not only does this reduce paper wastage but it also makes the process of matching enquiries to lost items far more efficient, meaning less time is spent on lost property.

Another thing to consider is how your customers/guests/passengers get their item returned to them. Could you rely on a green courier company or postal service to post back lost property? This would mean that owners don’t need to make unnecessary journeys back to your venue to pick up a small item that can be efficiently sent in the post.

In summary, here’s the 4 key ways you can make your lost property handling more environmentally friendly from start to finish.

  1. Replace paper enquiries with online report forms
  2. Use a lost and found software to ensure all information is kept digitally
  3. Offer delivery and post items back to owners
  4. Send no old lost property to land fill

Together we can do our bit to ensure that all parts of our operations do not have an adverse impact on the environment.

Have you implemented any different sustainable steps in your current lost property process? We’re sure there are many more ways to improve the procedure… get in touch and let us know!