The Ultimate Guide to Recycling in the UK

Recycling is currently a huge talking point in the UK and across the world. For years we have been hearing 'Reuse and Recycle'! This has translated from our home lives into our business environment. Businesses have a big impact on how well recycling in the UK is shown so it is important for them to set the trend and reduce and improve their waste and recycling in the most efficient and eco-friendly way possible. This guide will focus on the best recycling guidelines and techniques and why bins just do not cut it anymore as an effective recycling method.

UK Recycling - Getting Better All Of The time

Thanks to recycling guides like this one and the excess of information and guidance available to us, recycling in the UK is improving year-on-year. Despite the media doom and gloom regarding climate change, this area doesn't get enough coverage. Items can be recycled far easier than before and the spectrum for what can be recycled continues to grow. Food waste and garden waste are being recycled at a fantastic rate and packaging recycling is doing particularly well, including wrapping paper and carrier bags. Because of this, businesses, no matter how big or small, are 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

These are some fantastically pleasing statistics. Our recycling and waste figures have shot up! However, compared to other European countries, the UK is could be described as ‘middle of the road’ in the recycling tables. The likes of Belgium, Denmark, Czech Republic, and Germany are way ahead of the UK. On the other hand, the likes of Croatia, Hungary, Iceland, and Malta are way behind. UK households and businesses certainly have the capability to push our country among the leaders.

Where Do UK Recyclables Go?

Our cardboard and plastic gets collected on rubbish collection day and transported to recycling facilities, or we drop it off ourselves to refuse collection spots or a reuse and recycling centre. After this, however, most of the UK’s cardboard and plastic gets shipped abroad. So, all of your shampoo bottles, drink cartons, and plastic bottles disappear abroad. 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 a consequent decision to place heavy restrictions on cardboard. New destinations such as Malaysia have been found, but contamination issues have caused problems there, with plastic waste being sent back. This has caused issue within local authority in the UK as our country simply does not have the space to recycle every ounce of waste, so we are reliant on exporting. The best move at current is to improve business and social care of recycling and practice guidance of recycling schemes passed on by the government through education and learning. This has to be done before shipping waste. 

We have a fantastic article exploring where our business waste and recycling ends up.

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. This means from the starting point - recycling from home - until the recycling rubbish gets collected. We should be using our purple bins, green recycling bag, and green bins and ensuring food waste is completely separate from glass bottles and household waste. Of course, from the start you can reduce your waste. This goes for recycling at home alongside in your business. 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 and homes use these as their recycling tools. With some strict building control managers and street care operatives, it seems bins are the best bet, especially with common waste collections. Let’s take a look, however, at some common problems with bins…

  1. UK commercial recycling bins are also known as Dry Mixed Recycling (DMR) bins. They accept any form of dry packaging, meaning paper and card and plastic can easily be mixed in multiple bins. You are not following recycling guidelines and segregating at the source and therefore your bin supplier has to do it for you at their own recycling facilities.
  2. If the recycling and waste company has to segregate for all of its customers, they are not doing this as a goodwill gesture - it costs money. Bins are becoming increasingly expensive due to being labour intensive work and landfill tax rates rise every April.

Other Bin Problems…

  1. One 1100 litre DMR bin takes up a large volume of area. In comparison, a single baler takes up the same footprint. That one baler can do the job of several bins and it will do it better. Paper and card and different items can be recycled and crushed to save space. 
  2. Despite being voluminous, a wheelie bin or recycling banks bins will 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.
  3. 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.

100% Segregation at the Source with Balers

Cardboard and plastic packaging is simple to segregate with an easy to use baler on site. Bottles and jars and other materials still need to be recycled elsewhere. Baling, however, 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…

  1. Balers will handle all cardboard boxes and any plastic packaging waste produced on site.
  2. Balers handle whole materials with ease.
  3. They come in a range of sizes and are suited to a huge array of businesses.
  4. Baling is the only way to guarantee segregation at the source.
  5. Once baled, the dense bales can be stored and will be collected on a regular basis by a local recycler thanks to materials recovery facilities.
  6. 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. This allows businesses to fulfil recycling schemes with ease. Balers allow businesses to reduce their wheelie bin numbers. With all paper and card 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. 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.

Balers really do work as an effective waste management solution.

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:

  • Automotive
  • Breweries
  • Distributors
  • Engineering
  • Hotels
  • Manufacturers
  • Pubs
  • Recyclers
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Suppliers

There are some fantastic case studies that show examples of where recycling equipment has thrived in these industries. For any specific case studies, you can contact us here and we will get back to you.

Other Materials and Waste Reducing Equipment

Of course, our recycling guide covers are more types of waste other than just cardboard and plastic. Glass bottles and jars, general waste like crisp packets and household waste, tins and scrap metal, 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 for bottles and jars. 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 for textile recycling.
  • 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

Recycling rubbish and reducing your waste (both at home and in your business) will ensure you boost your green credentials. Segregation on a business site also follows recycling guidelines which is what waste partners in the likes of Malaysia are seeking. Alongside this, a tidy waste area with little to no bins gives off a positive impression to the passing public, customers, and health and safety inspectors. For example, a restaurant with overflowing bins is off-putting and could be a sign of negligence throughout the business.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

By reducing your bins you subsequently reduce the amount of time lorries spend on the road for rubbish collection day. 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.

  1. 85% of businesses with QCR’s recycling equipment reduce wheelie bin numbers by 2-10 per week.
  2. The average reduction in bin collections is two per week.
  3. QCR worked out how much CO2 each customer saves per year. Based on a collection of 20 customers and total distance travelled in a 20mpg lorry utilising 3 gallons of fuel (to cover the distance to and from the waste depot), the amount of CO2 saved per week equals 12.8kg – which equates to 665kg annually.
  4. 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
  5. Savings will exceed this as the figures are based on an empty lorry, and efficiency becomes much worse with additional weight.

Summary of Recycling Guide 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.