Business waste recycling solutions

Woman recycling paper

Waste is often a resource that may have a value.

There are a variety of solutions to manage business waste more efficiently and effectively, which may save you money and help to reduce your carbon footprint.


How can I minimise the waste I generate?

Waste minimisation is not an additional part of recycling. It is about prevention - not producing the waste in the first place.

If businesses reduce waste, their process becomes more efficient. This will bring benefits for example reduced costs and can make individual businesses more competitive.

Envirowise suggest that businesses across a range of industries can save four to five percent of turnover by employing simple waste minimisation techniques.

There are many ways of reducing waste.

Here are a few simple examples to minimise waste paper in offices:

  • review documents on screen and avoid printing where possible to minimise waste
  • before printing multiple copies, print a single copy and check this copy for errors
  • if you have to print out draft documents, use a small font or the 'shrink to fit' or zoom option available with many software packages
  • print only when you have to
  • store data and reports on compact disks, memory sticks to save on paper copies
  • use both sides of the paper when printing and photocopying − use default setting
  • staple scrap pieces of paper together to make a notepad instead of using new notebooks for rough notes
  • keep a copy of A4 scrap paper next to the printer/photocopier for rough or trial copies
  • use the smallest piece of paper possible for the job
  • photocopy A3 to A4 if possible
  • use staplefree staplers to reduce use of metal staples
  • send email memos instead of sending paper copies
  • cancel unwanted subscriptions to avoid paper accumulating
  • buy only what you need - think of stock control and how to streamline processes across departments
  • ask your staff to 'think before they throw' - someone else may want to use it.

Waste minimisation is not a one-off activity but should be a long term business practice.

How can I reuse my waste?

Re-use is when you can use an item again without going through the recycling process.

  • re-use files and folders
  • re-use envelopes (can be used for internal mail in larger organisations) or use a 'multi address sheet' to prolong the life of internal envelopes
  • re-use padded postal bags (add a new address label)
  • shredded paper and newspapers can be reused for packaging
  • re-fill toner and ink jet cartridges
  • use waste paper as note paper
  • use cups, mugs and glasses rather than disposable plastic and paper cups.

There are ways in which you can re-use items, for example charity shops.

Some charity shops accept printer inkjet cartridges and mobile phones.

You can pick a charity and recycle the company's phones. The charity can receive a small amount of money in return.

They may be able to get you a box to collect phones/inkjet cartridges or can arrange pick up for more than 20 phones. Information is available on charity websites.

You may be able to donate old office furniture to a charity.

You can always sell on an online auction or use freecycle (opens in a new window)

Is your waste useful to another business? For example, if you produce wood off cuts from your business this may be of use to someone who uses a wood burning stove.

How can I recycle my waste?

The number of organisations that offer recycling for businesses is growing.

Your current waste collection company will be able to advise on whether they offer separate collections for any of your specific wastes.

Your local council may offer recycling as well as general waste collection services.

Find out how to contact your local district, borough or city council by visiting our other councils page.

How can I compost my compostable waste?

Your local council may be able to offer a collection of your compostable wastes such as kitchen food products and garden waste.

Find out how to contact your local district, borough or city council by visiting our other councils page.

If you generate small quantities of compostable waste and wish to turn it into compost you could buy your own home composter or wormery. You can get these on line or at DIY and garden centres.

For more information on composters go to Recycle now (opens in a new window).

What are the benefits of reducing and reusing waste?

It's easy

Reducing, reusing and recycling at work is straightforward and easy to do. It's easy to use less, reuse what you can and separate out materials to recycle from your other waste. All you have to do is get a good system in place.

It saves money

Managing waste unsustainably costs money. By reducing and reusing your waste you could significantly reduce your waste disposal costs.

It saves space and can reduce clutter

Reducing, reusing and recycling often reduces clutter and improves the working environment. Less clutter also means increased safety around the workplace.

It's good for the environment

Reducing, reusing and recycling at work will help you reduce the environmental impact of your business. Managing your waste in a sustainable manner will mean a diversion away from landfill to more environmentally preferable options. By minimising waste you are reducing the amount of raw materials used.

It's good for public relations

Good waste management is good for business. Promoting yourself positively to customers, clients and staff as being an environmentally responsible company can only be good, however negative publicity through lack of compliance or illegal dumping can only be bad.

It feels good

The feel good factor is undeniable. Ask your staff if they would like to do their bit, we are sure you will be encouraged by the response.

Fulfil your legal obligations

Through environmental legislation, producers of waste are ultimately responsible for its disposal, so you need to know and be able to document where your waste is going − be it recycling, composting, incineration or landfill.

Related documents

The following document is in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)

Information on other websites