When it comes to recycling at home, we all adhere to the rules and suggestions laid down by our local councils. This makes good sense and it makes life easier for us too. They provide the required bins, bags and crates (depending on the area and how they approach recycling) and we use the items provided to divide our rubbish and recycle as much as we can. Simple.
However when it comes to business recycling the onus is definitely on the business owner to create a recycling plan that works for them. Here we’re going to look into this issue in more depth. If you’re just starting up in business or you’re dissatisfied with the way things are going at the moment, this is the ideal opportunity to get started as you mean to go on, in a positive manner.
Making sure you comply with all legalities regarding waste matter
Businesses of all kinds have a responsibility to recycle as much as they can. Some businesses are required to properly recycle certain items they come into contact with on a regular basis. Examples of such businesses would include those working with electrical equipment. Such items need to be disposed of properly in order to comply with the law.
Start by making sure you know which laws are applicable to your own business. It can make life much easier when you are planning the best recycling targets and aims for the future.
How are your recycling methods working at the moment?
When your waste solutions aren’t working too well it can be difficult to figure out what to do about it. However the best way to move forward is actually to stand back first and take a long hard look at how you are managing your waste and recycling it at present. You could certainly come up with a new plan and just follow that. However, assessing what is and isn’t working first means you’ll have a lot more knowledge to use that can help you create better plans for the future.
What do you do with your waste?
The big question here is how much you actually recycle. Many businesses work hard to increase the amount they recycle on a regular basis. Others are lagging behind in this respect. Where does your business fall?
Many business owners learn a lot by monitoring their current waste and recycling practices prior to making any changes. The reasons for this are clear. Firstly you will create a benchmark to compare the results of any changes to later on. Let’s say for example you currently have wheelie bins in several locations around your business premises. You might consider changing the locations of those bins and adding more of them for recycling different items. However if you didn’t know how much rubbish those bins were taking beforehand, you’ll have nothing to compare it to once the changes are made.
Secondly you can take the time to discuss the issue of recycling with your employees. They use the bins regularly and they’ll probably have ideas on how things can be improved. Employees are very often one of the most valuable assets a business has, so make sure you make the most of yours and the knowledge and experience they have in every area.
Finally you might identify a need for different-sized bins or even getting rid of some of them altogether. For instance let’s suppose you currently have, say, six wheelie bins for general non-recyclable rubbish in various positions around your business premises. Upon closer inspection over the period of a week or two you might realise two of these bins are barely used at all. It may be you are considering replacing all your old bins with new ones. In this case you would have bought more wheelie bins than you actually needed if you hadn’t stood back to evaluate the situation first.
Put the focus on recycling
Wheelie bins are far from dull nowadays. You can buy them in all manner of different colours. While we are used to seeing the traditional green and brown bins (sometimes alongside black bins too) on our streets, these represent only a small selection of the many that are available.
For example you can also find bright red, yellow and blue bins available that will bring a more eye-catching element to your own recycling efforts. If you need your bins to be easy to spot or simply a different colour to take other types of recycling, take a closer look at these bins. They’re just as well-made as the usual colours and they are able to withstand extremes of temperature too. They’re even resistant to fading in the unlikely event we should get a rather good summer here in the UK!
Get organised and get everyone involved
Trying to come up with a good recycling and waste plan for your business can seem rather daunting, especially in the early stages. Remember we suggested asking your employees for input earlier? Now is the time to do just that. The more suggestions you have from people, the better your plan has the potential to be. It is likely you don’t work in the employee areas as much as the employees themselves do. They will bring to the fore any problems or challenges they have with recycling. They might even have some smart ideas on how to cut down on the amount of rubbish your business throws away too.
There is no end to where these suggestions can go. There are plenty of examples of businesses taking charge of recycling and doing amazing things with it. For example did you know MacDonald’s now recycles over 4.5 million litres of used oil every single year, turning the cooking oil into biodiesel in the process? It keeps it in the business too, because that diesel is used to keep as much as 50% of its fleet of vehicles on the road. Now that’s a recycling story to be proud of.
Another example of smart recycling is a more basic one, but still sees far less waste created by Mitsubishi in Japan. They retain all the materials used for cushioning items when they are delivered, and re-use them for packing up other items for shipping to customers. This is something many businesses could do. Could yours be one of them? If so you would be committing a lot less waste to your wheelie bins each week.
Make recycling as easy as possible
Of course you probably won’t be able to recycle everything your business creates as rubbish. However you can make sure everything you do recycle is as easy to recycle as possible. This is where a good choice of wheelie bins comes in.
Wheelie bins come in a variety of sizes, from the smallest 140 litre bins to much bigger 1100 litre bins that can take plenty of rubbish. There are several other sizes in between these as well. No two businesses are the same so you should consider how much you want to recycle and what size of each bin you need to get the job done. If you are unsure as to the correct size for your needs it is typically better to opt for the bigger bins. The last thing you want is to have rubbish spilling over the top or creating a mess on the ground.
It’s common enough to think that getting smaller bins can encourage a higher rate of recycling instead of having everything going into the normal dustbin. However this isn’t always easy to achieve. This is why having a plan for recycling more and setting targets is such a good idea. It encourages you to achieve more while still being realistic about the prospect of what you can do as a business.
The financial perks of avoiding landfill
Most of us are aware that any non-recyclable waste we get rid of ends up in landfill. This holds true for business waste just as it does for household waste. Landfill is rapidly filling up and we need to do all we can to reduce what goes in there.
Businesses have an extra incentive to reduce the amount they throw into wheelie bins intended for non-recyclable items. As you may already know, you pay a landfill tax for everything that is sent there. This holds true even if you have accidentally put materials into your bins that could otherwise have been recycled.
As such, one of the best targets you can set for your business is to reduce the amount of landfill waste you have to an absolute minimum. You may even be able to get it down to zero – it all depends on your business and what you throw away. At the moment businesses are charged £80 for every tonne of waste that gets put into landfill. Let us suppose then that you currently throw away two tonnes of waste into landfill every week. That means a bill of £160 your business has to pay. Now let’s suppose you set a target to reduce that amount by half. If you managed to do this (with the help of your employees of course) you would save £80 every single week. Over the course of a year that’s an extra £4,160 – more cash for your business even if everything else stays the same.
That’s quite an incentive to do whatever you can to recycle more, isn’t it? But there is more involved than this. It helps to be visible when it comes to your recycling targets too, because it’s good publicity for your business. The more visible you are as a business, the more customers you are likely to find. Nowadays more and more people are aware of recycling and of how important it is that we all do what we can to recycle more each week. Your customers will respect the efforts you are making to do your own bit for the environment. It also gives you a promotional news story you can use to help raise awareness of your business, which is never a bad thing.
Taking delivery of your new wheelie bins
Once you have a plan in place and you know what is required to recycle more and send less to landfill, you can decide how many wheelie bins you need. This will depend on how large your site is and what your targets are. It also depends on how many items you need to divide up for proper recycling.
Remember that wheelie bins and larger refuse bins can also be used internally and not just to present to the recycling lorry when it arrives each week. If you do hit on some ways to recycle certain things (such as the packaging example given above), these bins can be useful in these circumstances too. If they are stored inside you could make good use of some 120 litre bottle bins for example, which come in a variety of different colours. Perhaps one colour could be used for each item to be recycled and used in another way?
Taking that first step
The most important thing is to get started. Most businesses could probably do something to improve their recycling targets and recycle more than they currently do. Good organisation and planning will go a long way towards helping your business achieve its new goals in this area.
Why not get started today by examining what you already do and consider ways in which you can improve things? You could become the next success story and be a benchmark for other local businesses looking to improve the way they recycle and throw less rubbish into the already-straining landfill areas. Now wouldn’t that be a great story to share with your employees?