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What is Business Recycling?

In the simplest of terms, business recycling describes the action or process of converting waste produced by businesses into reusable material.


According to the Waste Resources Action Programme, 1/4 of all of England’s waste is produced by enterprise organizations. As such, businesses share a significant share of responsibility to ensure that they make as little negative impact on the environment as possible. Recycling is a key way to do that.


And it’s not just about the environment. Having a good structure for business recycling can improve your employees’ morale and can even save you money!


Find out more by quickly jumping to the section that you want to read about first. 



Benefits of Small Business Recycling

There are four main advantages to recycling as a business. They can be categorised as the environmental impact, the financial impact, the hygienic impact, and the cultural impact.



Environmental Impact

Recycling business waste has a massive impact on the environment. The most obvious reason being that the waste is repurposed rather than sent to landfill – which takes up finite space and causes carbon emissions.

Bottles in a grassy field


Another way recycling has an impact on the environment is that it reduces the need for the production of materials in the first place. By taking the recyclable waste from businesses and breaking them down to recycle them back into usable materials there will be less demand for usable materials to begin with. Put simply, less production = less waste.



Financial Impact

If you assume that recycling business waste is going to cost a lot you would be wrong. It can in-fact save your business money. That’s because it can reduce your overall waste management costs.


Every UK business is legally required to dispose of their waste responsibly. Therefore, since you have to do it, why not do it in the cheapest way possible. The best way to do that would be to recycle. The reason being that if you recycle your business waste instead of sending it to landfill then you will save on landfill tax rates and waste disposal gate fees.


Additionally, landfill taxes increase annually almost without fail as the government use this tax as a way to encourage UK businesses to recycle and their policy on this does not look like it will change any time soon. Therefore, it is best to introduce recycling to your organisation as soon as possible.

Landill tax rates increasing over time graph

Furthermore, whatever non-recyclable waste your business produces will probably not require a large load capacity waste collection service – or at least your waste will probably not need to be collected so frequently. This would then reduce your waste management requirements and, therefore, save your business money.



Hygienic Impact

A practical benefit to business recycling (especially in an office environment) is the regiment and cleanliness a good recycling system can provide. By having multiple office bins for various waste will reduce the probability of over-flowing and spilt bins which can cause horrible smells to waft around the office – which could even reduce productivity from your employees.

Overflowing green business recycling bins


Cultural Impact

In terms of the impact on your company culture, business recycling can go a long way. That’s because it can boost your employees’ morale by making them feel like they are part of a positive movement. It also gives everyone equal ownership of a positive change where the combined efforts of individual employees can compound to make a significant impact.

Office workers sorting metal business recycling

Furthermore, going green by adopting business recycling can greatly improve your company’s reputation which will surely make your staff proud to work for such a forward-thinking and environmentally conscious organisation.



How to Create and Execute a Business Recycling Scheme

The first thing your business should do is to research and find a recycling waste management service. This service company will collect your recyclable waste from your business site(s), or recycling drop-off point, and transport it to an appropriate recycling facility. Make sure to find the best deal in terms of price. CheaperWaste is not a trivial name so make sure to check us out.


Things you will need to consider are:


  • The materials your business wastes – what is recyclable and what isn’t?


  • How much waste do you produce?


  • How often will you need business recycling collections?


  • Can you have collections on your site or do you need to transport your waste to a drop-off facility first?


To get this information you should conduct a waste audit. Then provide this information to your selected waste management service provider and they will negotiate a contract with you in line with your business recycling needs.


After you have your recycling collection service sorted you need to get your employees involved. It’s all well and good having a service to collect your waste, but you need to ensure that your staff are segregating their rubbish and disposing of their waste in the appropriate bins. You need to have clearly labelled recycling bins and depending on the size of your office/business site you may need multiple.


Four coloured business recycling bins

Place your recycling bins in easily accessible places but make sure that they are tucked away so they do not obstruct your staff or pose any health and safety issues. You should then put up signs in your office reminding your employees to recycle and you should include monthly reminders in your in-house emails.


If you follow this advice you will have a fully functioning and successful business recycling scheme in no time.



How to Convince your Employees

Make sure your staff know about your new recycling scheme! And keep letting them know!


Use your internal communications such as newsletters, email, and office posters to first introduce your new recycling scheme – make sure to use persuasive and engaging language to create a buzz around the idea. Make sure that your employees know that they will be making a real difference to the environment by doing their bit. You should introduce the new scheme a week or so before it is officially introduced and then once again on the day.

Blue recycling bins filled with clear plastic bottles

But remember, we’re all human, and even if your introduction is received really well and all your staff are on-board, people will forget overtime or get lazy. It’s your job to use your internal communication channels to remind them monthly – after all, it’ll save your business money so make sure you are doing this consistently.


But even with consistent reminders, sometimes staff need incentivising every once in a while. Here are some ideas for you:


  • Remove bins which are placed underneath desks. This will encourage staff to properly segregate their waste. A bin under an employees desk will just end up being a ‘bin for everything’ and will not help your business recycling goals.


  • Create targets for your teams and provide results and updates so everyone can track which teams are performing the best. Sometimes just adding a little competition can really incentivise your employees.


  • If just the competition isn’t enough then incentivise the teams further by offering a reward to the best recyclers.


  • Encourage senior managers and team leaders to lead by example and to be advocates for your business’ recycling goals.


Business meeting outlining business recycling goals



Recycling Practices

If you want your business recycling scheme to be successful you’ll need to operate under some good guidelines and make sure that your staff do so too.


One of the first things that you need to make sure of is whether you can mix your recycling waste (such as glass and paper going into the same bin) or whether you need separate bins. Once you know that you can make it a rule that employees must put the correct waste in the correctly labelled bin.


Good/essential practice is to wash out drinks bottles and food packages since recycling facilities simply cannot take and treat any materials that have food produce on them. The same goes for clean paper. Any paper with ink or pencil markings is okay, just make sure that you’re not trying to recycle paper with grease on it or any food produce.


A really important practice is to reduce the amount of waste your business and your employees are producing in the first place. You should get rid of any single-use plastics. Encourage staff to buy reusable water bottles (or perhaps reward them with some) so that they don’t buy and chuck plastic water bottles. Try going paperless by getting rid of your printers and encourage everyone to read and sign documents electronically if you can.

Plastic water bottles with blue lids

Finally, to really optimise your business recycling scheme you should really think about your bin placements. Here’s our advice:


  • Put bins for electronic waste (such as batteries, printer cartridges and other e-waste items) near to printers if possible.


  • Put bins for paper, confidential documents, and cardboard near desks.


  • Put bins for paper, cardboard, food packaging, cans and tins, food waste, plastic waste, and glass waste in your kitchen spaces, or communal areas – essentially anywhere where your staff like to eat lunch.


And you’ll need to place general waste bins near these other bins so that your employees can make the conscious and easy decision to segregate their waste properly.



Knowing What you Can Recycle



Glass is actually 100% recyclable and does not degrade during the recycling process. As such the main thing that you have to remember is to wash-out your empty jars and bottles so that they are not contaminated by food produce.


There are some factors which you should consider in your business recycling scheme, however. Most glass can be mixed regardless of colour. But there are some recycling facilities which require the glass to be separated into blue, brown, green, and clear glass. These are far less common nowadays but make sure to check with your waste management service provider.

Brown clear and green glass bottles

Even the labels on glass jars and bottles are allowed at almost every recycling facility. Although, some will require that you remove any plastic or metal lids. So make sure that your staff know if that is the case.


Specialist types of glass such as lightbulbs, and windows, and ovenware also will need different treatment than regular glass. So if you’re consistently producing this type of glass waste then make sure to find out the best course of action with your waste management service provider.


Most lightbulbs cannot even be recycled. But the ones that can (CFLs and Fluorescent Tubes) must be removed from your other glass recycling and sent off for particular treatment because they contain mercury which is hazardous.




Most plastic waste produced by businesses can be easily recycled as long as they have been washed. However, unlike glass, plastic types cannot be mixed. And annoyingly it’s actually quite difficult to tell what type any given plastic produce is. That’s why they are often labelled with certain symbol identifiers:


Each number indicates what type of plastic a product is made from. 1 and 2 are widely accepted as recyclable, 4 is often recycled (and is commonly used for plastic bags), and 7 is hardly ever recycled since it is a mixed compound.

Plastic types symbol identifiers



Recycling Regulations

Your business can actually recycle a lot of different types of waste. You just need to have the right bin for each type of waste. Here’s what UK organisations can recycle:


  • Paper
  • Tins and Cans
  • Printer Cartridges
  • Batteries
  • Cardboard
  • Glass
  • Food Waste – find out more about food waste here
  • Electrical Equipment
  • Plastic Bottles
Different types of recyclable business waste sorted by bin colour

Conduct a waste audit to understand your waste produce. This will help you identify your waste and what you can recycle. A cafe, for instance, would likely have a lot of food waste but not a lot of electrical waste. Once you know your waste types then you can get the correct bins.


But remember that only general waste can be placed into black bin liners and that all other recyclable material must be in transparent bags – this is so that your waste collector and recycling facility know what they’re getting isn’t contaminated with mixed waste.



Duty of Care

Each and every UK business has a legal requirement to responsibly care for their waste. Their care includes the storage and transportation of waste safely and securely without causing harm to the environment or human beings. Your company’s recycling comes with a duty of care.


Part of your duty of care regarding your recycling collection and transportation is that your business must have a contract with a service which holds a waste carriers licence. You should also ask about where your recycling is being taken to so that you can be sure that it’s going to a facility where it can be appropriately treated.

Woman carrying a blue business recycling bin

Your recycling must also come with a waste transfer note (which you, the business owner, must provide) which is filled in by you and the contractor. But don’t worry it’s not that difficult and if you have your recycling collected regularly then you can create an ongoing waste transfer not to cover a series of collections.


Here you can get a waste transfer note template provided by the UK government.


You must also remember that your electrical recyclable waste needs to comply with WEEE.



The Cost of Recycling

There are multiple factors which will affect the costs of your business recycling. Here are the key factors:


  • Your business’ location
  • The volume of the waste you wish to recycle
  • The types of materials you wish to recycle
  • The prices your waste management servicer sets out


Here are the average costs for recycling the following materials:


Mixed Paper – £12-£26 per tonne

Mixed Glass – £9-£19 per tonne

Mixed Plastic – £10-£78 per tonne


As you can see there is a large range of average prices so it is paramount that you choose a waste management service which is inexpensive. CheaperWaste is determined to offer such a service so check us out.


And remember, as mentioned before, making your company actively involved with business recycling can actually save you money since you will pay less landfill tax and disposal gate fees. Furthermore, there are actually some more direct financial incentives offered by the UK government for your decision to recycle. You may be eligible for tax credits for waste that you are sending off to be recycled which would usually end up in landfill.



Business Recycling Innovations and News

There have been some really interesting innovations in the recycling space. There have been numerous inventions designed to help businesses recycle efficiently. In our Waste Management Ultimate Guide, we discussed some of these products such as the ECube and the Bin-e.


The Bin-e is particularly interesting since it is a bin made for offices which can take almost all of your waste in one place and segregate your recyclable waste for you.

Bin-e bin in an office

In terms of more general innovations, there have been ongoing developments in making the whole recycling process more efficient such as more advanced sieving machines at recycling facilities which can segregate contaminated recycling from usable materials.



Michelin Tyre Recycling Scheme

In February 2021, Michelin and Scandinavian tyre recycler Enviro unveiled plans to build a pioneering recycling plant in Chile that will be able to recycle tens of thousands of giant construction equipment tyres annually.


Michelin explained the plant – set to be its first industrial recycling facility – would scale up a cutting-edge technology developed by Enviro that recovers carbon black, oil, steel, and gas from end-of-life tyres.



PPE Recycling

Due to the huge demand for personal protective equipment to combat the global pandemic, the task for many hospitals, businesses, and recycling specialists is finding a suitable way to recycle masks in 2021.


Organisations including the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust are recycling their disposable masks into material that can be used to make new products like bottles, bins and furniture. Whereas, previously, these masks would have been destined for incineration, releasing carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions into the atmosphere.


Behind this technology is a Cardiff-based firm Thermal Compaction Group (TCG), who have so far sold their patented “Sterimelt” devices to seven hospital trusts in England. These devices heat polypropylene plastic to up to 350 degrees Celsius and compress it into rectangular blocks that can be sold and converted into pellets for new plastic products. Read more about this story here.



If you want to get the latest recycling news we recommend the BBC’s recycling news section.



Picking a Business Recycling Waste Management Service

As a business, you are legally required to have a waste management service to handle your business recycling. But it is crucial that you pick the right one. You need to consider price, efficiency, and a whole variety of factors.


Why CheaperWaste has got your back!

Here at CheaperWaste we are the UK’s fastest-growing, fully-licenced, waste management company and we are growing fast for a reason. We offer the best service, at inexpensive prices, and are focused on small businesses. We understand your business’ needs and have a team catered to help you grow and succeed. Get a quote for free and see how much you can save today by simply filling in the quick and easy form below to get a free quote.

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