The Complete Guide to Managing your Business Waste (June 2020)
If you are a UK homeowner, you'll likely pay very little attention to organising your waste collection. Simply put the general, recycling and green waste in the relevant bin and await your free weekly collection from your local council. Unlike other countries, we have a rather caring government that means we don't have to pay for our household waste. However, for small business owners, organising waste collection is an entirely new and foreign concept. We thought we'd create the ultimate guide to best manage your business waste.
UK Business Owner Responsibilities
As a business owner, you'll have certain responsibilities as set out by the UK Government. These are:
Keep all waste to a minimum. Try your absolute best to reduce the amount of waste in the first place. Not only will this help the environment but it will help to reduce your waste collection costs. Like Jack Johnson says, we've got to reduce, reuse, recycle.
Take proper measures to adequately store your waste. Use robust containers with covers to stop waste from escaping. Clips can be used to prevent cunning foxes from scavenging through your waste. Ensure all bins have clear labels so that you and the rest of your employees know exactly what type of waste goes into each bin. If you know what day your bin collection is, try to give your collection company a helping hand by placing bins beside the road to ensure a speedy collection.
Fill in a waste transfer note here. This alerts the government that you are producing waste as a business, what type of waste you are producing, and who will be collecting the waste. Once completed it is valid for 2 years. Your local council or the environmental agency may ask to see this note in the future.
Understand the types of waste
Different businesses will operate across many different sectors and industries. Each sector usually has its own waste sector and therefore will require you to organise the appropriate collection. Here are all of the different types of waste:
Also known as residual waste and as the name suggests. Your usual day-to-day waste which cannot be recycled. It includes materials such as non-recyclable plastics, polythene, packaging and kitchen scraps. In most cases, your general waste should be very little as most general waste comes in the form of packaging which is usually recyclable.
An estimated 60% of office waste will fall into the recycling category. Look out for the recycling icon on the right when buying your goodies to ensure packaging is reused again in the future. The UK government aims to focus its recycling efforts on 4 main types of waste. These are glass, paper, plastic and metal cans. Glass is particularly useful for recycling as it can be reprocessed an infinite number of times without losing structural qualities. The glass is simply crushed down and then melted to make bottles or jars. The main difficulty in recycling glass is the need to remove unwanted coloured glass. Purchasing only clear glass is the easiest and most desirable to recycle. All types of paper is recyclable and recycling paper requires a lot less energy and raw materials than manufacturing from scratch. Unlike Glass, paper can only be recycled an average of 6 times. Fortunately, we live in a digital age so do make use of electronic copies as much as you can. Plastics are actually incredibly difficult to recycle, mainly due to the fact that they come in many different compositions and sorting them is done by hand. Our suggestion would be to only purchase plastic if you absolutely have to and try to actually make use of the packaging yourself. There are lots of cool items you make from plastic, ranging from plant pots to shower heads! Metal cans are great for recycling. Cans are made from either steel or aluminium. Cans can be recycled indefinitely and use about 5% of the energy needed to produce them from scratch. Cans are also the easiest to sort thanks to magnets that attract the steel.
Eating well at work is now the norm. Company-wide Uber Eats on Wednesday or a full stocked kitchen filled with sourdough bread, eggs and avocado. Employees are creating and eating some rather fine dishes! Naturally, a lot more organic and biodegradable waste is created. Biodegradable waste is any waste that can be broken down by micro-organisms and other living things through composting, aerobic digestion or anaerobic digestion. If you're lucky enough to have an outdoors green space at your work then it might be worth investing in a composting unit to give straight back to the Earth! This ensures all organic waste is given back to the soil and it is as easy as putting the waste in the container and letting nature do its thing.
Confidential Hard Copies
A lesser-known form of waste is your confidential businesses waste. Whether this is your sensitive financial documents, client account details, payment details or employee salaries. This form of waste should be treated with the greatest of respect for if it were to fall into the wrong hands, this information could be incredibly damaging for both your business and employees. New GDPR regulations have come into force and you really cannot have sensitive data laying around on desks. The best way to destroy confidential documents is by ensuring your waste management company is able to properly destroy documents on-site, either via shredding or incineration.
Electronic Data on Hardware
In an increasingly digital world, it is incredibly important to properly deal with your electronic waste requirements. No, I do not mean your recycle bin on your desktop (although a good digital clean up does feel good). I am talking about physical hard-drives, laptops, USB drives and other types of hardware that can store sensitive data. Larger companies will have IT departments who know how to destroy this type of hardware but smaller companies will need to call on specialist waste collection companies to destroy any disused hardware. An added bonus is that you are usually provided with a certificate of destruction which will help if/when the local council require proof for any reason.
Hazardous waste poses a substantial threat to public health or the environment. Characteristics of hazardous waste exhibits one or more of the following qualities; ignitability (will catch fire easily), reactivity (when added to a system causes a chemical reaction), corrosivity (substances that will damage or destroy other substance by means of chemical reaction) and toxicity (poisonous substance that will damage or cause death to humans and/or other living organisms).
This is waste that has been produced from healthcare organisations. It includes sharps ,needles or syringes, swabs, bandages and dressings. As you can imagine, waste which contains biological traces may contain diseases or infections and so must not come into direct contact with the waste handler. Dentists, Hospitals, Nurseries, Retirement Homes will likely all produce some form of clinical waste. It your responsibility to properly store this kind of waste and pass over safely to the waste collection company. There are numerous ways to destroy clinical waste, namely through thermal destruction, chemical, radiation or via biological processes.
Female hygiene products resulting from the absorption of menstrual flow must be disposed of correctly. As laid out by the Water Industries Act 1991, you should not dispose of used products via flushing as this will block your plumbing system and will result in steep costs in the future and a load of inconvenience for your fellow coworkers. Sanitary bins are a legal requirement for businesses and you are expected to manage this waste up until the point of disposal.
Liquid waste refers to all grease, oils, sludges, wash water, waste detergents, paints, solvents, pesticides and other types of refuse. If this seeps into the environment, it will almost certainly kill environmental species, disrupt natural habitats and pollute the ground water table. Very bad karma indeed. Liquid waste can be treated used dewatering. This involves rotating the liquid in a centrifuge to separate out the different densities resulting in a solid cake on the outer perimeter and water in the center. Sedimentation can also be used by passing liquid through large tanks and 'skimming off' impurities at various heights of the tank.
Farmers will use a mixture of machinery and chemicals in order to grow their produce. They must follow COSHH regulations, Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation. Examples of agricultural waste include green waste, waste silage, pesticides/herbicides and animal medicines. What is useful to crops maybe damaging to other environmental species, so it is important to work with an approved waste management company.
What types of waste collection do I need for my business?
Congratulations. You are now an expert on all the different types of waste and their associated definitions but what exact waste services do you need for your business? Look no further, we've created a beautiful table to answer this question.
The above table is simply a rough guide. Depending on your exact business, you may not need certain types of waste collection. On the flipside, you may need additional collections depending on how you run your business. For example, if you store sensitive data onsite or offsite. Whatever your needs, we have you covered as we work across all industries and cover the entire UK region. Our process is incredibly simple, you simply fill in a quote (that takes around 2 minutes) and we'll find the most appropriate waste collection company to contact you directly. It's really that simple!