It’s good news to hear that recycling efforts have vastly improved over the last five years. However, with a previous government target to recycle 50% of waste by 2020, we’re still vastly under par with our efforts. According to gov.uk, in 2020, household waste recycling rates were 44%, down from 45.5% in 2019. This is a statistic often mimicked, and even under achieved, within offices and business settings.
While pandemic impacts were largely reflected in these falling rates, there’s still a long way to go if we’re to reach the new waste recycling target of 65% by 2035, set by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It is an ambitious long-term goal, but it paves the way for more recyclable materials to be kept in circulation within the resources and waste system.
Businesses looking to avoid being affected by the impact of these ambitious targets, and take advantage of the benefits that come alongside supporting towards these targets, should start to act today. The more prepared we are to achieve change, the better equipped we are when it happens.
In 2018, the UK generated 43.9 million tonnes of commercial waste, of which 37.2 million tonnes was from England alone. Alarmingly, this figure accounts for around 85% of all waste!
These figures show that greater strides need to be taken in order to reduce the amount of commercial waste. By doing so, business costs will significantly reduce. Though the costs of waste management per business vary, the general rule of thumb is, the more waste your business creates, the more you’ll pay. Realistically, your payments could vary from hundreds to tens of thousands per year!
Glancing at the figures, its glaringly obvious that you need to keep your costs as low as possible. It’s also likely that your business is keen to improve an existing recycling scheme or consider implementing one.
But did you know that there are several workplace recycling regulations that apply in England that you need to be aware of?
Workplace recycling regulations
Under Section 34 of the Environment Protection Act 1990, businesses have a duty of care to dispose of waste responsibly. This means storing waste securely and safely.
Businesses are legally required to separate recyclable materials such as plastics, paper and glass from other waste to prevent contamination. This is easily achieved with indoor recycling bins.
In order to prevent waste from causing harm to other people or the environment, it should be stored securely and safely (to prevent it from blowing away) which means that suitable outdoor recycling bins are also essential.
You can read more on the full list of requirements here.
In order to achieve net-zero goals, a strategic framework has been set out by ‘Our Waste, Our Resources: A Strategy for England’. This includes principles such as preventing waste from occurring in the first place, and managing it better when it does occur, providing incentives for people to do the right thing, ensuring that those who create market products that become waste take greater responsibility, and to lead by example.
Government guidelines state that recycling must be made clearer for individuals to understand the right waste streams and help people do the right thing. Recycling rates are often lower in businesses than in households, so action needs to be taken to clarify disposal materials and make information available to workforces.
Ultimately, it is about encouraging behavioural changes. That is paramount to leading by example.
‘Appropriate disposal at end of use’ is firmly embedded as a strategy to meet governmental 2035 targets. In more familiar terms, this refers to recycling. There are many additional benefits that come with recycling as a business.
Saving money on waste management and landfill taxes is a firm favourite, but being viewed as a green business by environmentally aware customers and clients is undeniably positive. You’ll also raise morale by getting employees actively involved in environmentally friendly initiatives.
In line with government incentives, businesses need to implement indoor recycling bins and outdoor recycling bins with clear signage to demonstrate correct waste streams. The addition of useful recycling information, statistics and the overall importance of adhering to a recycling scheme can help further assist visitor efforts.
If businesses are to reach governmental targets set for 2035, there’s really no time to waste in getting efficient recycling schemes up and running. We’re all in this together, so it’s time to start thinking collectively about our recycling efforts.
Who are Unisan?
Unisan’s key mission is to empower and support workspace recycling, in any environment. We are continually assisting organisations in achieving their sustainability goals and helping businesses demonstrate their commitment to both the environment and their workforce.
Have we convinced you to introduce recycling solutions to increase recycling rates, engage staff and meet the sustainability goals of your business in your workspace? Hope so! Please reach out to a member of the Unisan team to learn more and we’ll be happy to help.