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The Added Value of Waste Management

When asked what they can do to help the environment, most people will say “recycle”.  This makes waste management an effective tool in demonstrating an organisations commitment to wider environmental management. Every organisation must manage their waste in some capacity, from small amounts of office waste to large manufacturing facilities producing hazardous waste, waste management is a daily activity for businesses of all sizes.

According to the Office for National Statistics, commercial and industrial waste accounts for approximately a fifth of all waste generation in the UK, which is more than every household combined.

Announced in October 2023, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are reforming the way businesses manage their waste, with new rules coming into effect in England from 2025-27 to boost recycling rates and protect the environment. The reforms are being called ‘Simpler Recycling’, designed to improve and standardise recycling and waste collections. The simpler recycling rules will cover households and business, and include seven recyclable waste streams, including food waste, glass, garden waste, metal, plastic, paper and card.

What does this mean for businesses?

Currently in England, business waste recycling is not currently mandatory and although most big businesses do recycle, some do more than others and there are plenty of medium, small and micro businesses that don’t do any recycling at all.

However, with this new legislation coming into effect, by March 2025, businesses will need to have arranged collections and recycling of all their food waste, glass, metal, plastic, paper, and cardboard they produce by licensed waste carriers. Garden waste is excluded for businesses, and plastic film will only be included in the plastic collections from March 2027.

Whilst the introduction of these new rules may seem in the distance, addressing your organisation’s waste management now is essential for a smooth transition to the simpler recycling reforms coming into force in 2025. Motivation to address your organisation’s waste may be driven by the simpler recycling timeline, but it’s also a significant way to decrease waste management costs, reduce environmental impacts and reduce unnecessary wasted materials.

A basic waste audit within your organisation can highlight the composition of your waste, to improve understanding of what is produced and identify opportunities to reduce or eliminate a waste stream.  At Genee we help our clients manage waste as part of their Investors in the Environment (iiE) accreditation journey. iiE is a nationally recognised environmental accreditation scheme that enables organisations of all sizes and sectors to take a holistic look at their businesses and identify, measure and reduce their environmental impacts including waste. We encourage our clients to undertake regular waste audits, that provide a valuable insight in to the volumes and composition of waste produced, this directs waste prevention and reduction measures. The waste hierarchy is also an important tool when looking at your organisation’s waste and where possible offers the greatest cost and carbon savings.

Existing legislation

All commercial waste in the UK is governed by the Waste Duty of Care statutory guidance that came out of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This makes provision for the safe management of waste to protect human health and the environment. This legislation applies to anyone who imports, produces, carries, keeps, treats, disposes of, or are a dealer or broker that has control of, controlled waste. For most organisations this affects them when they are sourcing waste management services, as it is a legal requirement under this legislation to ensure they use a registered waste business. Organisations have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure that waste transferred to another waste holder is managed correctly throughout its complete journey to disposal or recovery.

You can do this by:

  • checking the next waste holder is authorised to take the waste.

  • asking the next waste holder where they are going to take the waste and checking that the intended destination is authorised to accept that waste.

  • carrying out more detailed checks if you suspect the waste is not being handled in line with the duty of care - for example, requesting evidence that your waste has arrived at the intended destination and that it has been accurately described.

Examining your organisation’s waste through regular waste audits gives you a real opportunity to identify areas for improvement and efficiencies. What goes in your bin can tell you a lot about an organisation and how it views its resources. Our iiE members have implemented some brilliant initiatives to reduce their organisational waste on site, from donating their food waste to local community gardens for composting, to removing desk bins to encourage staff to think more mindfully about what they throw away. The new Simpler Recycling regulations will ensure waste is segregated and increase recycling rates, but we need to make sure we are ready to implement them by the March 2025 deadline.


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