Ultimate guide to recycling
Recycling is currently a huge talking point in the UK and across the world. Our businesses have a big impact on how well we recycle so it is important for them to recycle in the most efficient, yet eco-friendly way possible. This guide will focus on the best recycling techniques and why bins just do not cut it anymore as an effective recycling method.
UK recycling - getting better all the time
UK recycling as a whole is improving year-on-year. With so much media doom and gloom about the climate right now, this is one area that doesn’t get enough coverage. Packaging recycling is doing particularly well. We think this is because businesses no matter how big or small are becoming more switched on to the best recycling techniques.
A comprehensive article was produced by the government earlier this year, detailing UK recycling from 2010 to 2017. Unsurprisingly the results are good.
- UK in 2014 – 96.3 million tonnes of waste recycled
- UK in 2017 – 104 million tonnes of waste recycled
- UK in 2017 – 79% of cardboard recycled, EU target – 60%
- UK in 2017 – 46.2% of plastic recycled, EU target – 22.5%1
Some pleasing statistics here but in comparison to other European countries, the UK is what you could describe as ‘middle of the road’ in the recycling tables. The likes of: Belgium, Denmark, Czech Republic and Germany are way ahead of the UK however the likes of: Croatia, Hungary, Iceland and Malta are way behind. We certainly have the capability to join the leaders.
Where do UK recyclables go?
Much of the UK’s cardboard and plastic gets shipped abroad but this has been problematic for the last two years. China was our go to destination for exporting plastic and cardboard but this stopped suddenly in 2017 with an immediate ban on any plastic imports and heavy restrictions on cardboard. New destinations such as Malaysia have been found but contamination issues have caused problems here, with plastic waste being sent back. The UK simply does not have the space to recycle every ounce of waste, so we are reliant on exporting. We really need to help ourselves though by using the best segregation techniques at home before shipping clean waste…
Read more on what happens to our waste here.
The importance of clean materials and segregation
We simply HAVE to segregate our recyclables and keep them clean in order to maintain a working relationship with countries that are currently happy to take our waste. We cannot afford to have nowhere to send our waste, so segregating materials at the SOURCE is becoming paramount.
Segregation problems with bins
Bins are engrained in our everyday lives and so many UK businesses use these as their recycling tools. Let’s take a look at some common problems with bins…
- UK commercial recycling bins are also known as Dry Mixed Recycling (DMR) bins. They accept any form of dry packaging, meaning cardboard and plastic can easily be mixed in multiple bins. You are not segregating at the source and therefore your bin supplier has to do it for you at its depot.
- If the waste company has to segregate for all its customers, they are not doing this as a goodwill gesture - it costs money. Bins are becoming increasingly expensive due to being labour intensive and landfill tax rates rise every April.
Other bin problems…
- One baler has the same footprint as one 1100 litre DMR bin. That one baler can do the job of several bins and it will do it better, it also means businesses can free up valuable space on site.
- Despite being voluminous, bins fill up in no time. Flat-packing is a necessary job for staff to try and fit as much cardboard in bins as possible. This is additional labour, time consuming and a distraction for staff.
- If you have general waste bins on site, these are even more expensive than DMR bins, as everything heads to landfill. Recyclables can easily overflow into the general waste stream when bins are full, which should never happen nowadays.
Read more on the pitfalls of bins and the alternative solution here.
100% segregation at the source with balers
Cardboard and plastic packaging is simple to segregate with an easy to use baler on site. Baling ensures no materials get mixed together and everything is kept separate. This is by far the best modern recycling technique that businesses can use. Here are some facts about balers…
- Balers will handle all cardboard boxes and any plastic packaging waste produced on site.
- Balers handle whole materials with ease.
- They come in a range of sizes and are suited to a huge array of businesses.
- Baling is the only way to guarantee segregation at the source.
- Once baled, the dense bales can be stored and will be collected on a regular basis by a local recycler.
- It is easy to bale both materials separately - cardboard is usually baled more regularly than plastic due to its size. A simple bag stand can handle the plastic until there is enough to bale and keeps everything separate.
Saving money, space and time with waste balers
As well as 100% segregation and recycling, balers offer financial and practical savings. Balers allow businesses to reduce their bin numbers. With all cardboard and plastic processed through the baler, bins can be made redundant. With the average collection cost per recycling bin currently at £12, savings can be made if there is more than one bin on site - this is very common. Removing bins creates more space and stops any need to flat-pack cardboard, this creates time savings. Balers are small enough to fit into tight spaces, meaning they can often be located close to the source of waste – this saves staff regularly walking to the bin area.
Read more on how balers work here.
Industries where recycling equipment thrives
The great thing about recycling machines is their flexibility to be used almost anywhere. The equipment comes in all sizes and can be located inside and outside. Some of the most common industries to use recycling equipment include:
Other materials and waste reducing equipment
Of course there are more waste types than just cardboard and plastic produced at commercial businesses. Glass, general waste, tins, fabrics and EPS are also large waste streams and expensive to have collected in bins.
- Glass crushers reduce bottle volume 5:1 and are ideal for pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants. Bin quantities and costs get reduced as well as improved health and safety standards.
- General waste is anything that cannot be recycled and currently has to head to landfill. General waste bin compactors will reduce volume 3:1, lowering collection costs and bin numbers.
- Can and tin volumes will be reduced up to 10:1 by crushing them all inside a can compactor. These machines are popular with manufacturers, engineers and automotive workshops.
- Fabrics such as carpet remnants and hessian sacks can easily be baled and there are recyclers out there who will collect these.
- EPS machines are particularly popular with fish producers as all fish is delivered in sizeable EPS boxes. A high quality EPS compactor will reduce volume 40:1.
Boost your green credentials
Segregating cardboard and plastic at the source as well as lowering volumes of other waste types will ensure your business boosts its green credentials. Segregation on site also contributes to effective UK recycling because these bales are what our waste partners in the likes of Malaysia are seeking. A tidy waste area with little to no bins, gives off a positive impression to the passing public, customers and health and safety inspectors. Seeing a restaurant for example with overflowing bins everywhere is off-putting and could be a sign of negligence throughout the business.
Reducing your carbon footprint
A reduction in bins and collections means less time spent on the road by heavy CO2 emitting bin lorries. We’ve worked out the average amount of CO2 emissions saved by businesses with QCR recycling balers if they reduce bin numbers or remove them altogether.
- 85% of businesses with QCR’s recycling equipment reduce wheelie bin numbers by 2-10 per week.
- The average reduction in bin collections is two per week.
- With this in mind, based on a collection round of 20 customers, with a total distance travelled of 54 miles (to and from the waste depot)2 in a lorry with an average consumption of 20mpg, the amount of CO2 saved per QCR customer, per week equals 12.8kg – yearly this equates to 665kg.
- Should 20 customers lose all their bins thanks to our recycling equipment, removing the lorry from the road will save 122 litres of diesel per week. This equals 319kg of CO2 per week and 16.5 tonnes per year.3
- Savings will exceed this as the figures are based on an empty lorry and efficiency becomes much worse with additional weight.
Summary of key points
- UK recycling is improving all the time.
- Despite this, UK can do more to compete with the likes of Belgium.
- UK is reliant on clean, segregated waste to maintain relationships with waste partners.
- Segregating business waste at the source is integral to helping with this.
- Bins, despite their popularity are not helpful with commercial recycling.
- Only baling will ensure 100% of cardboard and plastic is recycled and segregated.
- Baling is practically easier than using bins – space and time saved on site.
- Bin costs are increasing all the time, yearly landfill tax rises get passed to customers.
- Balers and recycler collections often beat bins financially.
- Any industry that produces waste will find recycling equipment helpful.
- Everything else from glass to tins to EPS waste can be compacted or crushed.
- Businesses increase their green credentials with recycling equipment.
- Heavy savings on CO2 emissions can be achieved by reducing bin numbers.
A free site survey will determine whether you can improve your carbon footprint as well as save money, space and time on waste. Click the button below to book yours today.
1 Source: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/784263/UK_Statistics_on_Waste_statistical_notice_March_2019_rev_FINAL.pdf Defra Statistics
2 Source: http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/WRAP%20FH%20and%20Premier%20Trial%20Draft%20Report%20Final%20for%20approval%2006_07_10%20HG.pdf
3 Source: https://comcar.co.uk/emissions/footprint/ Carmen Data Ltd