Recent calls for households to reduce their use of plastics should not overshadow the crucial role businesses must play in improving recycling in the UK, waste disposal experts have warned.
Businesses generate approximately a quarter of all waste in England. This has led the government to increase landfill tax to £88.95 per tonne in a bid to encourage businesses to recycle more of their waste.
Yet research suggested up to 80% of businesses do not recycle and have no green policy in place. It also revealed that the materials firms commonly neglect to recycle include paper and cardboard, plastics, electrical waste and printer cartridges.
Jonathan Richardson, managing director at secure shredding specialist Russell Richardson, said:
“Since waste collection is measured by weight, waste disposal costs can soon mount up for business owners. By recycling and throwing less away, companies can save thousands of pounds per year in landfill tax, while crucially lessening their environmental footprint.”
On average, 60% to 80% of office waste is paper, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
The government stipulates that businesses have a responsibility to “keep waste to a minimum by doing everything you reasonable can to prevent, reuse, recycle or recover wasted (in that order)”.
“Setting up regular collections for waste paper — at the very least — is an easy win for office-based businesses: it’s easy to do and can save on money almost immediately,”
“Some services even offer rebates for large volumes of waste.”
Paper recycling is far less energy-intensive than the process for other materials, requiring 70% less energy than making paper from raw materials.
Recycling guidance offered by WRAP to office-based businesses includes advice on setting up a recycling scheme and finding the right waste contractor.
The charity says that over a quarter of companies that recycle at work claim they have saved space by having designated areas and clearly labelled containers for specific materials, while over a third of businesses that recycle say it has improved their reputation within the local community.
“Involving all staff in recycling measures is key to a successful scheme,”
“Using promotional materials, such as posters and container stickers to signpost team members to recycling points and inform them about collection days helps to facilitate a smooth and commercially rewarding operation.”