Reducing waste could save Scottish firms millions

14th October 2011

Scottish businesses could save millions of pounds by cutting waste and resource use according to Zero Waste Scotland, who today (14 October 2011) welcomed new proposals to increase recycling collections from businesses which have been outlined by the Scottish Government today

The proposed Zero Waste Regulations call for paper and card, glass, metals, and plastics to be collected separately from businesses, as well as outlining mandatory food waste collections for businesses involved in food production, retail or preparation.   

Zero Waste Scotland – the organisation created to support delivery of the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan – says it can help businesses adapt to the new regulations, and claimed businesses that go even further than the minimum requirements will have the most to gain under the new system.

Scottish firms could save up to £2 billion by adopting simple resource efficiency measures and a recent study identified that £64 million could be saved by cutting food waste in the hospitality sector alone. 

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“The Scottish Government’s zero waste regulations will mean a step change in the way businesses manage their waste, and importantly give a net benefit for the Scottish economy.

“However businesses can benefit even more by working with us to reduce waste and resource use in the first place. For example, our research has shown the hospitality sector could save up to £64 million a year by reducing food waste.

“We are supporting Scottish businesses to reduce waste and save money by ensuring they get the most out from the raw materials, packaging, existing stock, and other resources they buy and use.  Our online training course On Course For Zero Waste is a great place for SMEs to start.

“We are also working to ensure that businesses get the services they need to comply with the new regulations.  We are already investing £4million this year to support food waste collections from homes and businesses and will be working to ensure improved trade waste collections are delivered ahead of the regulations coming into force.

“We also want to see new technologies come on stream that will harness even more value from resources than is possible today, and so last week we announced investment of £500,000 in two innovation funds focussed on waste prevention and new recycling technologies.

Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead said:

“For the private sector, Zero Waste Scotland’s online training programme is specifically targeted at SMEs.  With an expert mentor to guide them in identifying and making savings, this is exactly the kind of innovative support we need to engage all businesses on the road to zero waste.”

Business Case Studies

Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre (EICC) provides an example of a small business which is already managing waste in ways which will comply with the proposed zero waste regulations. 

Reynaldo Guino-o, Business Excellence Advisor at the EICC, explained how being conscientious about waste management has led to cost savings and new business wins for the organisation.

Mr Guino-o said:

“Our first priority is to reduce our waste and make the best possible use of our resources.  By reducing waste we have seen our waste disposal costs drop by £17,505 year-on-year, even after we changed our waste collection services to include separating out recyclable materials and a contract to collect food waste for recycling. 

“Best of all, our conscientious approach to sustainability had made us even more competitive in our market, winning business from customers who want to host events with good practice in mind.” 

MacSweens of Edinburgh are an example of a small business working in the food production sector who have already taken steps to reduce waste and recycle as much as possible as part of their business operations.  Now reporting to be 90% landfill free, Company Director James Macsween explains the cost savings the business is reaping as a result of their efforts.

Mr Macsween said:  "Our efforts to reduce waste as far as possible and recycle wherever we can is saving our business around £4,000 each year so far.  While this might not seem like a lot, it's still a saving and it shows that embracing environmentally conscientious solutions doesn't have a negative financial impact.  We are continuing to look for innovative ways to save money through waste management.  We already send excess organic materials to produce energy in anaerobic digestion facilities, and we recover the fat we use to be made into bio-diesel.  By separating recyclable waste on-site, we even save money on our waste disposal costs."