The UK generates around 10 million tonnes of packaging waste a year. More than half of it can be found in household bins. However a large proportion is also generated by businesses. Most of this waste ends up buried in the ground as landfill even though a lot of it could be recycled.
The introduction of recycling targets for businesses to recover a proportion of the packaging they place on the market, means that at least 74% of packaging waste must now be recovered and recycled. It is important that we all recycle as much as possible so that the UK can meet these targets.
Our recycle bank locator will help you find a recycling facility close to you.
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Most households produce around 1 tonne of waste each year. There are many direct and hidden costs attached to the disposal of this waste and sending it to landfill is not a sustainable solution.
- A large proportion of our household waste is made up of various forms of packaging. This is not just the packaging around your new hi-fi! - it also includes milk bottles, sweet wrappers, toothpaste dispensers, etc.
- Most of this packaging is made up of paper, plastic, glass and metals. Scarce natural resources are used to make/refine these materials
- We are paying twice for packaging; firstly for the packaging on the new product, and secondly for it to be taken away as waste
- Also, disposing of household waste will become even more expensive as we run out of holes in the ground!
Contact your local authority to establish the level and type of recycling services that are being provided in your area.
We can all do more to help ourselves and the environment by following some simple rules.
- Try to purchase products that are loose rather than pre-packaged
- Minimise the amount of packaging you purchase by refusing carrier bags or wrappings where possible
- Buy in larger containers if practical, thus reducing the overall amount of packaging you take home
- The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 1998 require that companies minimise packaging. Contact your Local Authority Trading Standards office if you think a product has been over packaged
- Many shops today offer refills for the products on sale. Take advantage of these refills
Businesses are becoming more and more aware of their impact on the environment and are assessing how they can improve their environmental performance. In addition, the increasing cost of landfill has led to companies examining how they can reduce this cost and increase the value they can receive from waste.
Here are some ideas to assess how you can increase your company's recycling levels.
Usually the first step to determining how much recyclable waste you generate as a business is to carry out an audit of all your waste arisings. This will help you decide if you can reduce the waste you produce or if recycling is a better option.
Most businesses generate office waste. You can help improve your recycling levels by recycling all office supplies from paper to ink cartridges and even computers: Business users of Waste Electrical and Electronic equipment (WEEE) have an obligation to ensure that it is dealt with in accordance to the WEEE regulations. You can also look at recycling on-site drinks containers from vending machines. Contact your Local Authority, canteen supplier or Wastepack who may be able to help.
Packaging used in the business
Some businesses can improve their environmental performance by recycling waste which is accumulated as part of the goods in process, either for own use or for re-sale. This would typically be cardboard boxes, shrink wrap or pallets.
An audit of how you transport goods between sites and to customers may also reveal recycling opportunities. For example, you may be able to substitute one-way packaging with reusable packaging such as tote boxes and wooden pallets if it does not sacrifice product safety or transportation requirements. You may also be able to minimise the use of packaging in your business by buying in bulk or in large, reusable containers.
Join your neighbours
Sometimes you do not generate enough waste to make recycling economically viable because it may not be enough for a lorry load. If this is the case, why not get together with other businesses in your area to set up a “milk round”.
Many businesses are now looking at sourcing stationery or packaging which contains an element of recycled material. This is important as it ensures there is a market for recycled waste, and it also helps to create new collection and recycling facilities. Many office suppliers now have a selection of recycled products.