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21 Jul 2024

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5 opportunities for your business to reduce its waste 

Regardless of your business size, having effective waste management is very important. It doesn’t just show others that your business is trying its best to be efficient and sustainable, it can save you money.

From both an environmental and a financial perspective, you should factor waste management into your business plan. Each year it’s predicted that small businesses will spend around $384 on waste disposal, and that’s not including landfill tax and labour wastage. Producing less waste will reduce this substantially, and it’ll lower your carbon footprint. There are often lots of missed opportunities for businesses to lower their waste, here are a few to get your business started.

Refill your printer cartridges

Approximately 1.3 billion inkjet cartridges are used annually, but less than 30% of them are properly recycled. They take over 450 years to decompose, if you consider all the businesses that aren’t recycling them, that’s a lot of waste.

They’re easy and cost-effective to recycle, so they represent a simple solution to help you lower your waste. You can either refill them yourself, or you can return them directly to the manufacturer.

Many businesses are now paying for product returns after customers are finished using them, for example tins and bottle caps. They contain materials the manufacturers use, and it’s more cost-effective to repurchase them from customers than to purchase new ones.

Stop unwanted post from being delivered

Despite the majority of work being online or with technology today, many businesses still receive significant levels of post every day. In fact, in 2021 the number of addressed letters in the UK reached 7.8 billion.

Reducing your postal waste is a very efficient way to reduce the amount of paper waste. If you unsubscribe from mailing lists you’ll be surprised at how much unwanted post you won’t have to handle. You can also encourage those who you have written letter communication with to use email or telephone instead.

Eliminate bottled water

Following Covid, many businesses will have removed water machines from their premises to reduce transmission. Therefore it’s likely that many employees will be bringing their own water bottles to work, which is a step in the wrong direction for recycling.

Depending on restrictions around your business, you may want to consider reinstalling water fountains. Alternatively you can provide glasses or reusable water bottles for your staff. Bottled water costs around 2000 more times than tap water, and these man-made containers are not biodegradable. If you eliminate them in your business, you’ll be doing a service to the environment.

Introduce composting

Last year, the UK produced over 3.8 million tonnes of organic waste. Even if your business isn’t in the hospitality sector it’s likely that you’ll still produce a fair share of food wastage. Either from canteens, staff lunches or shop wastage.

If you’re in the position to, your business should consider composting. It’s becoming much more common in businesses, including offices. Composting means that you can cut your waste removal fees if organic waste isn’t included in your current waste disposal service. You will also save money on compost or plant food if your business has plants or gardens.

Reduce packaging

One third of waste in developed countries is from packaging alone. If your business is a substantial size or you receive a lot of deliveries, packaging is likely one of your biggest wastes. Not only is packaging a significant waste, most of it is made from materials such as plastic which either don’t biodegrade, or aren’t recycled properly.

Your business should consider where it can cut packaging, for example some items may be double or even triple-wrapped where they needn’t be. You may also be able to cut single-use containers or packaging all together.

Similarly, for your deliveries you might consider buying in bulk. This uses less packaging and will mean fewer delivery trucks on the road, so you’ll be cutting your carbon emission too.

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