Recycling as much of the waste that can’t be minimised or re-used is a great way to help the environment and save money.

Waste typically costs companies 4% of turnover.  Evidence shows that low or no cost actions such as increasing the amount you recycle can reduce waste by at least 10% and produce quick returns.

The waste hierarchy can help to prioritise actions

  • Eliminate.  Avoid producing waste in the first place.
  • Reduce.  Minimise the amount of waste produced.
  • Re-use.  Use items as many times as possible.
  • Recycle.  Arrange the collection of materials for recycling.
  • Dispose.  Dispose of what’s left in the bin.

Reviewing waste and working out what makes up the largest proportion of this can help identify actions that could be taken to reduce it.

Waste segregation

Separating out commonly recycled materials (below) from the rest and measuring the amounts involved will help to discuss options when speaking to local waste contractors about services:

  • Glass
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Steel cans
  • Aluminium cans

Review current recycling as well as, the rubbish in your “landfill” bins to see what materials are being thrown away. Some of the things which should be going into the recycling bins might still be thrown in the wrong bin. If so, think about reminding staff and clearly label waste containers. Consider talking to the waste service provider about recycling more materials, e.g. food waste.

Food waste

Avoiding sending edible food to landfill is key, but some food waste is unavoidable.  Food waste recycling is then the next best option as, rather than sending waste to landfill, the food waste can be turned into something useful (either soil improver, or heat and electricity depending on the treatment process used).

Depending on the quantity of food waste produced and location, there are different ways of minimising the environmental impact your food waste:

Businesses producing at least half a 240 litre bin of food waste per week may want to think about arranging a separate food waste recycling collection.  More and more waste contractors are offering food waste recycling services, so check locally to see what’s on offer in the area. For advice on making food waste recycling collections affordable, setting up food waste recycling schemes in the kitchen and getting staff on board visit the food waste recycling guidance.

Some businesses particularly in rural locations or those with grounds may already be doing some on-site composting of green kitchen waste where they can use the compost on grounds as a soil improver. To find out more visit this web page for guidance on on-site treatment of organic waste.

The Tower Hotel, Crieff - the hotel used to compost vegetable waste with garden waste in the grounds but new legislation led to them working with a local composting specialist to install a Rocket® enclosed in-vessel composter to accelerate and sanitise the composting process. Vegetable waste from food preparation in the kitchen is carefully separated and collected in small (6-litre) kitchen caddies lined with biodegradable BioBags made from corn starch. The BioBags are removed at the end of each shift and placed in the in-vessel composter together with an equal volume of garden waste.

Important points to note:

  • Food waste can be heavy so try not to overfill collection bags (collection service providers can advise on appropriate containers for storage of food waste).
  • Waste cooking oil should be kept separate as this can be collected if sufficient quantities are available.
  • When handling and storing food waste follow this important hygiene advice from the Food Standards Agency.
    - Remove food and other waste from food storage, preparation and serving areas as frequently as possible.
    - Store food and other waste in suitable containers that are easy to clean, can be kept closed and free of animals or pests.
    - Ensure waste does not come into contact with food preparation surfaces to avoid it becoming a direct or indirect source of contamination.

Recycle More Checklist

  • Separate out waste and see what can be recycled.
  • Review what is in the general waste bin (does it still contain recyclable materials?).
  • Check the waste collection services available locally.
  • Review waste bin labelling and check that staff know what should go in each bin.
  • Investigate options for food waste recycling.
  • Use suitable containers and store food waste in compliance with hygiene requirements.
  • Train staff in using food waste containers and label accordingly.
  • Separate waste cooking oil and store separately

How to Recycle at Work

Download a recycling guide and posters to help increase staff participation.