Does My Business Have to Recycle?

24th May 2022

Recycling is a major component of combatting climate change and striving to reach net zero and has many benefits for the environment. For instance, recycling your waste means less waste goes to landfill or has to be incinerated. It also means a lower use of natural resources.

By ensuring that recycling is at the forefront of people’s minds, we can also increase their awareness of our impact on the environment and encourage people to have a more conscientious attitude towards how their behaviour affects the environment.

Every business, whether it is a multinational company or a small self-employed freelancer, has a responsibility to recycle as much waste as possible.

Your recycling responsibility as a business

If you are a business owner in Britain, the government states that you must make every effort that you can to dispose of your waste in the most responsible way that is possible. This means that you should:

Try to reduce the amount of landfill waste that you are creating

The government stipulates that you should try to reduce the amount of landfill waste that your business is creating. They state that you should use the waste hierarchy:

  1. Prevent – doing what you can to prevent the creation of waste – using refills, buying in bulk, or getting re-usable materials, for example.
  2. Reuse – aim to reuse as much of what you create as possible – use both sides of paper when you need to use it, provide washable mugs and crockery, or invest in quality uniforms, for example.
  3. Recycle – recycle as many of the different types of business waste that are created, including paper and cardboard, plastic, glass, metals, and electronic equipment. Through recycling, you can take the waste that is generated and turn it into new materials.
  4. Recover waste – recovery involves incineration with energy recovery, anaerobic digestion, gasification and pyrolysis that produce energy such as power, heat, and fuel.

You should only resort to putting your waste into landfill after following these steps.

Sort and store your waste safely and securely

The government states that you should sort and store your business’s waste in a safe and appropriate manner. What does this mean?

  • Ensuring that it is stored in a safe and secure place
  • Ensuring that the waste is stored in an appropriate container such as bins, sealed containers, or in cardboard or plastic bales
  • Ensuring that containers that you are using are clearly labelled
  • Covers are used to prevent the waste from spilling or blowing away
  • Containers are waterproof if being stored outside or contain particular materials or substances
  • Ensuring that hazardous materials are disposed of appropriately and according to manufacturer instructions
  • Different types of waste are stored and disposed of separately

Complete waste transfer notes

Businesses must complete a waste transfer note for every load of non-hazardous waste that leaves their premises. You can download a waste transfer note from the UK government’s website if you need to.

The local council or Environmental Agency may ask to see these notes, so it is important that you keep them for your records.

Check that your waste disposal company is registered to dispose

Anybody that transports, buys, sells, or disposes of waste must be registered. As a business, you should make sure that you are using a registered company and can check it on the UK government’s website.

Do what you can to ensure that they are disposing of waste legally

As a business, you also have a responsibility to do what you can to ensure that the waste disposal company(ies) that you are using is disposing of the waste legally. If you find that they are not, you have a responsibility to contact the Police.

Saving money

Of course, the main benefits of recycling for a business revolve around environmental and reputational benefits. However, recycling your waste such as paper, cardboard and plastic can also have financial benefits for you.

Waste collection is a cost for all businesses, regardless of where the waste goes. By using cardboard or plastic balers, you can store greater amounts of these materials. Whilst you will still need to pay for the recyclable materials to be collected and processed, the number of trips can be reduced because the compacted waste materials use less space.

All businesses, no matter how big or small should be doing their best to dispose of all waste in the most environmentally friendly manner possible. This means following the waste hierarchy we looked at and getting rid of your rubbish responsibly.

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