Most of us are aware, thanks to numerous campaigns and educational programs, that recycling is good for the environment. Retrieving and reusing waste that would otherwise go to landfill is an accepted part of everyday life.
The amount of waste produced by businesses is twice that of household waste, making it important that businesses recycle. Many businesses include recycling in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plans, but there are many financial advantages for businesses that recycle. WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) reports figures showing a potential saving to UK business of 6.4 billion a year by improving the way they use resources.
Waste disposal can cost businesses a lot of money.
Regulations introduced in 2007 require waste producers to pre-treat waste before sending it to landfill. This involves additional costs, often involving payments to contractors. These costs can be avoided if businesses separate their waste for reuse or recycling, as this is accepted as a form of pre-treatment. Companies are required to pay Landfill Tax, which is constantly rising and currently stands at a high of £72 per tonne, and is scheduled to rise to £80 per tonne in 2014/15. There are also numerous hidden costs in disposing of waste, such as labour, transportation, handling, energy and utility costs.
Recycling often costs less than sending waste to landfill and many local authorities provide free or inexpensive recycling facilities for businesses as well as private households. Many private recycling collection services have been established, with companies such as Anyjunk offering eco-friendly disposal of commercial waste.
Recycling for profit
Recyclable materials can be sold or exchanged to bring in money, instead of having to spend it on disposal. Companies can use websites such as letsrecycle.com to find price information and quality details for various recyclables such as glass, paper, plastics and wood.
An entire industry, termed the ‘third sector’, has grown up around recycling. Retail outlets dealing with the recycling of cartridges, furniture shops selling refurbished items and vintage clothing stores are all examples of successful business models built around recycling. Such ventures can often benefit from grants awarded at a national and regional level, and from investment sources such as the government funded Green Investment Bank.
Many customers are concerned about the environment and want to know that their suppliers share their concerns and practice recycling. Bad publicity can damage a company’s reputation if waste is disposed of without care. Some industries have introduced voluntary responsibility commitments, such as the construction industry’s Halving Waste to Landfill, and initiatives such as sponsored recycling bins can raise a company’s profile in a cost-effective and socially responsible way.
Fines can cost businesses large amounts of money if they fail to comply with government requirements for waste recycling of certain items. Regulations covering the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), require companies to obtain waste management licences, in order to practice responsible waste disposal and reduce the environmental impact of discarding equipment at the end of its life. Companies who recycle their WEEE are granted exemptions from this licencing. Similar rules apply to the recycling of end-of-life vehicles (ELVs), batteries and packaging, with EU directives aimed at increasing recycling and reuse.
John writes about business and green issues effecting the UK.
- 95 Percent Of Business Computers End Up In Landfill (techweekeurope.co.uk)
- Recycling Could Mean Big Discounts To You (pittsburgh.cbslocal.com)
- Redmond businesses make ‘Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling’ list (redmond-reporter.com)