Use these sustainable Christmas ideas to reduce waste at home or work this festive season. Find out how to have a sustainable Christmas with this guide.
Christmas is the season of giving. But that doesn’t mean presenting your binmen or waste collection company with gifts of extra rubbish to remove this year. It happens though, as UK homes create almost a third more waste over the festive period – and businesses aren’t much better.
For example, around 227,000 miles of wrapping paper and 270,000 tons of food are chucked out every year at Christmas. It’s enough to turn Rudolf’s nose red with anger. Check out our Christmas waste facts for more shameful stats about how much rubbish we churn out every holiday season.
There are many ways to be sustainable at Christmas and give back to the environment. Your decorations, food, and celebrations can be as green as one of Santa’s elves’ outfits with a little effort. Use these sustainable Christmas ideas to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in an eco-friendly way.
Buy sustainable Christmas trees
The most sustainable Christmas trees are real ones grown locally in the UK. Once cut a new tree can be planted and grown, which is highly sustainable. Ones sourced locally require less transport, fuel, and carbon emissions too. You should check if any tree is from a sustainable forest (or FSC-certified) before you buy.
Other sustainable Christmas tree ideas include renting a real tree rather than buying one. This can be cost-effective and ensures the tree is replanted in the new year. The tree can have a positive impact on the environment and wildlife throughout the year and be used again next Christmas.
What you do after Christmas with your tree is vital for sustainability. Real trees take 10 to 12 years to grow so it’s ideal to replant them in your garden or pass them on to a certified forest. If you have an artificial one, hold onto it and reuse it in the future, as many are plastic and hard to recycle due to containing a combination of materials.
Select sustainable Christmas gifts
In the UK we spend more than £20 billion on Christmas presents every year. Unfortunately, plenty aren’t that sustainable due to packaging and the products themselves. Greater awareness and eco-focus mean there are more options available to buy sustainable Christmas gifts and ideas for creating your own.
Wrapping paper, tags, and bags also contribute to how sustainable any Christmas presents you give out are. Use our tips to reduce Christmas wrapping paper waste. Reusing paper from last year, sourcing recyclable wrapping paper, and using reusable bags are simple steps towards sustainability.
Consider sustainable Christmas cards
It’s estimated that we send around eight billion Christmas cards in the UK every year. That’s an awful lot of trees chopped down for the paper and card to make them all. Most Christmas cards are recyclable and therefore fairly sustainable, although those featuring glitter, glue, and plastic are trickier to recycle.
Recycling Christmas cards also requires energy and effort, so a more sustainable option can be to consider sending an e-card or simply don’t bother this year. Finding a cute Christmas picture and sending it to friends and family over social media, WhatsApp, or email could suffice and use zero paper and card.
Throw a sustainable Christmas party
The Christmas party season is a fun time that leads to plenty of excess – eating, drinking, and dancing more than usual. Often it includes creating excess waste too, with loads of leftover food, decorations thrown away, and plastic plates and cups binned. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
A little bit of preparation can create a sustainable party whether you’re planning the work Christmas do or arranging a festive get-together at home for friends and family. Considerations covering the food, decorations, activities, and recycling can help reduce how much waste your celebrations create and ensure there’s less cleaning up afterwards.
Source a sustainable Christmas jumper
As most people only wear Christmas jumpers in December they’re not always the most sustainable clothing items. Keep yours for a few years and it can be better for the environment though. A few ways to source a sustainable Christmas jumper include to:
- Wear last year’s Christmas jumper (if it still fits!)
- Knit your own using locally sourced wool
- Buy a second-hand Christmas jumper from a charity shop or online
- Upcycle an old jumper with a few festive additions
- Go to a clothes swap
Put up sustainable Christmas decorations
Tinsel is terrible for the environment as the PVC film and metallic coating can’t be separated and recycled. Thankfully, there are many eco-friendly alternatives for decorating your home or workplace in December. These include making a sustainable Christmas wreath from natural items to stringing up solar lights outside or on your Christmas tree.
Handmade decorations, sustainably sourced baubles, and table decorations – including sustainable Christmas crackers – are essential. Avoid plastic decorations and those that use a combination of materials as they’re harder to recycle. One of the most sustainable actions is to simply use the same decorations from last year and store them for many years to come.
Serve sustainable festive food
The equivalent of around seven million bins full of waste food are produced in the UK over Christmas every year. That includes millions of mince pies, sprouts, turkeys, Christmas cakes and pudding being thrown out. Smart shopping, portion control, saving and using leftovers in other recipes can all help reduce food waste for your festive feasting.
Buy a sustainable advent calendar
There’s a hidden cost of advent calendars, as many include single-use plastics that are bad for the environment. Sweet and chocolate wrappers aren’t always recyclable and many end up in landfill. But advent calendars are great for getting kids (and some adults) into the Christmas spirit.
Buy or make a sustainable advent calendar that has as little packaging as possible. Plenty are made purely from cardboard that’s easy to recycle. Alternatively, create your own for a waste-free option. It’s important you recycle or reuse the advent calendar next year after the big day for a fully sustainable solution.
Ways to be more sustainable at Christmas
Looking for more ways to reduce waste and celebrate a sustainable Christmas this year? We’ve put together a range of expert guides with tips and advice about reducing waste at home and work this festive season.
Umbrellas protect against the UK’s frequent wet and windy weather. The battering they receive from numerous storms adds up after a while though, tearing the material and sometimes snapping their spokes. If you’ve popped up a parasol for the last time or struggled as your umbrella turned inside out once too many, it’s probably time to get rid of it.
Around 1.45 million umbrellas are sold every year in the UK to help keep us dry on those all too common grey and drizzly days. Sales have also increased over the past few years with more than £14 million spent annually on new umbrellas. But what do you do when one reaches the end of its life?
Recycle an umbrella rather than chucking it in the bin where there’s a chance it could end up in landfill. There are various ways to reuse and recover the materials of a broken umbrella. Discover some great umbrella recycling ideas in this guide.
How to recycle
a broken umbrella
There are various types of umbrellas and each one is made from a combination of materials. These usually include a mix of metal, wood, plastic, and fabric. The different materials they contain make umbrellas tricky to recycle. Unfortunately, you can’t simply put them in your household recycling bin.
Don’t throw away a broken umbrella in your general waste bin at home or work either though, as it could end up in landfill. Instead, the best option is to break up an old umbrella into its different materials to recycle them separately at your local household waste recycling centre (HWRC). Separate and recycle each part of your old umbrella:
- Fabric – most umbrellas have a fabric or textile canopy, which you can tear or cut off to separate it from the ribs and stretcher. Recycle this in any textile bins.
- Metal – the main frame parts of most umbrellas are metal including the stretcher, ribs, shaft, and handle. Recycle these in the metal bins at your HWRC.
- Wood – some traditional umbrellas feature a wooden handle and sometimes a shaft too. Remove this and recycle it with other wood waste.
- Plastic – various bits of some umbrellas are made of plastic, like the handle, shaft, end tip, and canopy. Remove any such elements and check if the type of plastic is recyclable. Ask at your HWRC if you’re unsure.
What to do with umbrella covers
You’ll also need to responsibly dispose of the cover as well as the umbrella. This is often a thin piece of fabric similar to the material used for the umbrella’s canopy. Most modern umbrellas have covers made from nylon or polyester but check the material to ensure it’s recyclable.
If it’s made of a type of fabric then you should be able to recycle it with other textiles. Either find a clothing or textile bank or take it to your HWRC and recycle it in the specific textile bin. For any plastic umbrella covers check the plastic type and recycle with other plastics if possible.
Umbrella disposal for businesses
Various businesses can find themselves with umbrellas they need to dispose of as well. It could be shops with excess umbrellas they can’t sell or damaged stock, umbrellas left behind after an event such as a festival, or even manufacturing firms that produce umbrellas having broken items they need to get rid of from a factory.
Umbrellas that any type of business wants to recycle or dispose of class as commercial waste. If your business has lots of old, unused, or broken umbrellas it no longer needs then you must arrange commercial waste collection. Licensed waste carriers will remove them and transport them to a waste management facility for recycling and responsible disposal.
How to fix a
A broken umbrella will be as useful as a chocolate teapot when the next storm comes. Consider fixing it before throwing it away though. It’s always best to reduce waste and reuse before recycling, as it saves resources, time, and effort. How to fix a broken umbrella depends on what parts are damaged.
A few ways to fix a broken umbrella:
- Sew or stitch together the canopy fabric with some thread of the same colour if it’s ripped or torn.
- Use a length of metal wire to bind together dislocated pieces of a broken umbrella rib to get it back into place.
- Put a bit of super glue in the handle hole and hold the handle in place to reattach it – leave it overnight to dry.
Umbrella recycling ideas
There are many ways you can reuse an old or broken umbrella even if it won’t keep the rain or sunshine out any more. Upcycling umbrellas helps to reduce waste, keep them out of landfill, and save on the energy and resources required for recycling. Plus, it puts them to good use in other ways.
Here are a few easy ideas for upcycling by turning your old umbrella into a:
- Light shade – colourful umbrella canopies make wonderful light shades for your living room, hallway, or garage. Keep the ribs in place with the umbrella top open and position it over a bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling for great effect.
- Chandelier – remove the canopy and turn the frame of your old umbrella upside down to form a DIY chandelier. Hang and attach decorative bits to the ribs to add a touch of class.
- Mini greenhouse – transparent plastic umbrella canopies and the ribs are ideal as a cover for precious plants in your garden, acting like a small greenhouse. Remove the shaft and handle and secure it in the ground so it won’t blow away to help plants thrive.
- Hanging basket – simply flip an old umbrella upside down and hang it outside for an easy hanging basket. You can also partially close the umbrella and hang it indoors or outside then fill it with a bouquet of flowers.
- Coat rack – traditional curved umbrella handles make a great coat rack. Remove them from the rest of the umbrella, turn them upside down, and nail them into a small board for a quick and easy coat rack.
- Clothesline – get rid of the canopy and use the metal shaft and ribs of an umbrella as a clothesline either inside or outside. Find something to hang it from, such as a tree or pole. It’s great for drying small items like socks and tea towels.
- Costume – dressing up as Mary Poppins? It doesn’t matter if the umbrella is in working order or not – you’re unlikely to fly away with it anyway. Get creative and use the canopy of an old black umbrella as the wings of a bat for a spooky Halloween costume or transform the fabric into a cape.
Rugby League legend Kevin Sinfield OBE will lace up his running trainers once again to take on another epic endurance event this December. Sinfield and his team will run an ultra marathon each day for seven days in seven cities to raise awareness and money to support people impacted by motor neurone disease (MND).
And for the second year in a row, Business Waste is proud to sponsor Sinfield with our name on the front of his jersey as he tackles his fourth fundraiser. So far he’s raised more than £8 million for the fight against MND across three endurance events. Each one has been inspired by his former Leeds Rhinos teammate Rob Burrow MBE.
This challenge is no different with the team also inspired by sporting warriors Ed Slater, Marcus Stewart, Stephen Darby, the late Doddie Weir, and the 5,000 other people living with MND in the UK today. The aim is to raise £777,777 for five charities that support and care for people affected by MND and their families and invest in research for effective treatments and a cure for the disease.
What is the 7 in 7 in 7 challenge?
The 7 in 7 in 7 challenge is the fourth fundraising endurance event in the fight against MND by Kevin Sinfield OBE and his team. It combines elements of the three previous challenges the England Rugby Union defensive coach conquered. The challenge starts on Friday December 1st – three years to the day since Sinfield began his first 7 in 7 challenge.
In 2023 Sinfield and his team will run an ultra marathon every day for seven days in seven cities around Great Britain and Ireland. And the target is to complete each one in under four hours to really push themselves to the limit.
Every run will be a marathon with an extra mile added on – to highlight the extra mile people can go to help friends and family in tough times. Each day invited guests will join Sinfield for the extra mile event. The challenge will raise funds for five charities that provide support, care, and research into MND:
- MND Association and Leeds Hospitals Charity’s appeal to build the Rob Burrow Centre for MND in Leeds
- My Name’5 Doddie Foundation
- The Irish MND Association
- The Darby Rimmer MND Foundation
- The 4ED campaign to support former Gloucester and Leicester Rugby Union player Ed Slater
Where will the 7 in 7 in 7 challenge take place?
For the first time, one of Sinfield’s fundraising challenges will cover multiple cities in Great Britain and Ireland. Many of these cities were chosen due to their sporting significance and links to MND. Hopefully, this should raise even greater awareness of the condition and funds to support those living with it and fund further research into treatment and a cure.
For example, the fifth day in Dublin was inspired by former Munster Rugby Union coach Paul Darbyshire, who played Rugby League with Warrington and passed away from MND in 2011 aged just 41. The team will work with the Irish MNDA for the first time, following the incredible work done by legendary RTE broadcaster Charlie Bird who raised over €3 million with his Climb with Charlie after his own MND diagnosis.
The challenge starts at Headingley Stadium in Leeds before visiting key cities across the rest of the country, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The days and locations for each of the 7 ultra marathons are:
- Friday 1st December – Leeds to York (AMT Headingley Rugby Stadium to York Minister).
- Saturday 2nd December – Cardiff (finishing at half time of the United Rugby Championship game between Cardiff and Scarlets at The Arms Park).
- Sunday 3rd December – Birmingham (start at the Alexandra Stadium, calling at St Andrews, Villa Park, and Edgbaston, before finishing in the city centre).
- Monday 4th December – Edinburgh (crossing the Forth Road Bridge before finishing at Scottish Gas Murrayfield).
- Tuesday 5th December – Dublin.
- Wednesday 6th December – Brighton.
- Thursday 7th December – London (Twickenham Stadium to the Mall).
How can I donate?
There are a few easy ways to donate and support Sinfield and the fight against MND:
- Donate online through the official fundraising page
- Text Kevin10 to 70143 to donate £10
- Text Kevin20 to 70143 to donate £20
Once again, Business Waste wants to encourage other companies and individuals in the waste management industry to get behind Sinfield’s epic challenge and donate. It would be great for as many of our customers, suppliers, and other local and national waste management companies to support this fantastic cause as possible.
You can also support Sinfield’s efforts by buying any of the limited-edition merchandise worn by the team during the week-long challenge. There’s a different design for each day inspired by the location and a t-shirt or singlet (vest) is available for each. Order merch online.
Just another excuse for fly-tipping criminals?
November 5th sees millions of people lighting bonfires to celebrate gunpowder, treason and plot on Guy Fawkes Night.
But many thousands of these bonfires will be hiding a filthy secret – unwanted waste going up in flames, releasing who knows what into the sky.
Burning waste on your bonfire is still fly-tipping and comes with the usual huge fines if you’re caught, says waste and recycling company BusinessWaste.co.uk
“We know a thing or two about the right way to get rid of trash”, says company spokesperson Mark Hall. “Don’t get burnt with a big fine for burning your rubbish. That would be rubbish,” he says.
Legacy of pollution
Getting rid of waste can be such a dull and time-consuming task, that it can be tempting to take shortcuts to get rid of it as soon as possible – and with bonfire night on the horizon you could be tempted to shove your rubbish onto the fire so you never have to see it again.
However, that comes with the risk of releasing toxic fumes into the air, explosions, asbestos exposure, and leaving a legacy of pollution.
This is something Alex from Reading has experienced first-hand – “I saw someone bung a load of old motor trade waste onto a bonfire, and the resulting explosions as the oil cans went off were terrifying.”
It’s not just motor waste that environment officers have found lurking in the depths of bonfires up and down the UK, but everything from household rubbish, furniture and mattresses, to old caravans and boats.
Hall: “All of these things being burnt are responsible for causing irreparable damage to our environment, by polluting our air, soil, water and poisoning our plants and animals.
“And who’s setting fire to boats?” he asks, “There can’t be that many disaffected Bullseye winners out there!”
Remember, remember the rules this November
So, what can you burn this bonfire night?
Legally, you are within your right to have a bonfire on November 5th without needing a permit, but there are Environment Agency rules to make sure you aren’t causing a nuisance or any harm to human health or the environment.
- Only burn clean, dry, untreated and unpainted wood (painted wood constitutes a health hazard)
- Only use a small amount of cardboard and paper to start the fire
- Do not burn any plastic, rubber, glass, oils or metal
- Make sure your fire is the right size for the event
- Keep the fire secure and constantly watched
What about garden waste? Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s safe to burn just because it’s a natural product, as studies have shown that it can create 30 times the amount of smoke than burning logs on a stove, releasing more toxic fumes into the air and into your lungs and the surrounding environment.
Don’t get carried away by illegal waste carriers
For those who are not planning on having a bonfire this year, there is still the worry about how your rubbish might be contributing to illegal fires this November.
“You need to be wary of people offering to collect rubbish, so make sure any waste collector you use is a trustworthy licensed waste carrier,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall
“The last thing you want is for some rogue trader to take advantage and burn your rubbish to save themselves the hassle of illegally dumping it in a lay-by, or paying the fees for it to be correctly disposed of.”
Burning the wrong kind of waste could carry a fine up to £50,000, so make sure you don’t fall victim to a pyromaniac criminal this bonfire night because it could cost you more than a night of fun and flames this November.
Every 5th November the UK’s night skies light up with the colours, sounds, and smells of burning bonfires, extravagant fireworks, and sweet toffee apples. Millions of people attend public firework displays while plenty throw Bonfire Night parties in their gardens. Like most celebrations though, these create lots of extra waste.
Bonfires aren’t good for the environment, the rubbish from used fireworks isn’t recyclable, and there can be more food waste produced with discarded toffee apples and trays of parkin cake. However, we don’t want to extinguish the fun of the 5th of November.
Instead, this guide outlines ways to ensure your celebrations are as low-waste and eco-conscious as possible. Plot how to enjoy Guy Fawkes Night in a low-waste way with these environmentally friendlier Bonfire Night party ideas.
Bonfire Night facts
A few facts about the environmental impact and safety stats associated with Bonfire Night:
- The levels of soot in the atmosphere during and after bonfire night displays are 100 times higher than usual.
- The biggest annual spike in particulates across the UK is caused by bonfire night. This includes increases in levels of Sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter (PM2.5).
- Around 200,000 pallets are burned on Bonfire Night across the UK – the equivalent of 35,000 trees.
- Burning garden waste on a bonfire can cause 30 times the amount of particulate pollution compared to alighting untreated wood.
- Around 2,000 people go to A&E with fireworks-related injuries every year around bonfire night, according to NHS figures.
- Most people are treated and sent home but there are about 1,000 hospital admissions in the UK every year due to injuries sustained from letting off fireworks
Attend a public bonfire
Setting off fireworks and having a bonfire in your garden is a fun way to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night but it’s not the most sustainable option. Many councils, pubs, and community clubs host their own Bonfire Night parties. There are many reasons why attending a public display is better for the environment, as it:
- Minimises emissions as it avoids you from having a bonfire at home that would otherwise add to increased particulate and soot levels in the air.
- Reduces waste from dead fireworks being littered across the local environment with community displays ensuring all used fireworks and sticks are cleaned up.
- Creates less noise in your local neighbourhood, which should help cause less upset to any pets.
- Costs much less than buying fireworks and wood for a bonfire at home.
- Provides an impressive visual display that’s likely bigger and longer than any event you plan.
Use eco-friendly fireworks
There are plenty of ways to reduce waste and your environmental impact if you’re planning a Bonfire Night party at home. Fireworks are the main focus of the evening, so ensuring these are as environmentally friendly as possible is vital. A greater awareness of the effect fireworks have on the environment means there are now eco-friendly options available.
Eco-friendly fireworks are made with a nitrogen-based fuel that burns cleaner and produces a lot less smoke. They’re designed to reduce atmospheric pollution caused by traditional fireworks that have charcoal and sulphur fuel. Currently, they’re not as easy to find but making the effort to source eco-friendly fireworks is worth it for a sustainable Bonfire Night.
How to dispose of fireworks
Fireworks aren’t environmentally friendly, and they can’t be recycled whether they’re used or not. Unfortunately, paper wrapping, plastic packaging, and any wooden sticks with fireworks aren’t recyclable due to contamination. Responsible disposal is vital to avoid accidental fires. Here’s how to dispose of fireworks safely depending on their type:
- Any used fireworks that went off should be disposed of in your general waste bin.
- Unused fireworks can be stored safely and used at future celebrations or donated to an organisation that can make use of them.
- Misfired fireworks should be submerged in water for 48 hours and then placed in a plastic bag inside your general waste bin.
Skip the sky lanterns
Sky lanterns are a more recent addition to some Bonfire Night celebrations. They might look impressive illuminating the night sky but they’re terrible for the environment and quite dangerous. This is because sky lanterns are essentially pretty bits of rubbish on fire floating around that eventually fall to earth.
The fuel that lights and lifts off the sky lanterns isn’t great for the atmosphere but it’s when they land that the problems start. They can set fire to dry materials near where they land, choke or get caught up in any animals, and end up in our waterways. Skip the sky lanterns this Bonfire Night.
Build a better bonfire
Burning rubbish might sound like a great way to avoid any non-recyclable waste ending up in landfill, but you should avoid this. Building a bonfire with household waste, plastics, wet wood, and many other materials can pollute the air, create lots of smoke, and an unpleasant smell.
Burning many waste types is also illegal with a potential fine of up to £50,000. As well as environmental concerns there are also safety risks, so fires must be held in a secure place with plenty of water nearby. If you’re planning a bonfire then here’s how to have one in the most environmentally friendly way:
- Only burn dry, untreated, and unpainted scrap wood. Any wood that could be reused, repurposed, or recycled shouldn’t be burned, as this isn’t sustainable. This includes garden waste, which it’s better to compost rather than burn on a fire.
- Just use small amounts of paper or cardboard to help start the fire. Recycling paper and cardboard is the best way to dispose of these materials, so don’t burn loads on your bonfire.
- Check the weather forecast as it’s best to have bonfires on clear nights with no wind or mist to minimise their impact.
- Look into the bonfire before lighting it to ensure no hedgehogs or other animals are living inside. Building the bonfire on the day helps reduce this risk.
- Dispose of ash properly after your bonfire has burned out. Ensure it’s cooled down and then you can add pure wood ash to a compost heap.
Make an environmentally friendly Guy
Throwing an effigy of Guy Fawkes onto a bonfire is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. The most environmentally friendly action is to not bother making a Guy as it introduces extra materials that may release toxic emissions when burnt. There are a few ways to make it a bit eco-friendlier though.
Find some old clothes, such as a shirt and trousers or a pair of pyjamas. Ideally, these should be in a state beyond reuse, such as ripped or stained. Lightweight items made from untreated natural fibres like cotton or linen are best as they should burn quickly, easily, and release fewer toxins.
Make the head from an old linen pillowcase. Avoiding plastic or synthetic materials prevents the release of harmful chemicals. Then stuff the clothes and head with old and dry paper (including newspaper). Use some string or thread to tie up the wrists, ankles, and any other gaps, and then he’s ready for the bonfire.
Reduce food waste and recycle
There are sure to be plenty of autumn treats and drinks flowing at your Bonfire Night party. Careful planning helps reduce and even eliminate any food waste and packaging waste being created. Here are a few easy ways to reduce food waste on Guy Fawkes Night:
- Put toffee apples on sustainable sticks such as bamboo or wooden skewers rather than plastic ones.
- Recycle all aluminium drink cans and any glass wine or beer bottles. Have a station where people can leave them before cleaning them out and recycling them.
- Ditch the disposable plates and cutlery by using any picnic plates or your daily crockery.
- Box up any leftovers so your guests can take them home and you don’t get left with an overwhelming amount of food.
- Compost any waste food that gets spoiled or can’t be kept or eaten at a later date.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) revealed reforms to bin collections and the UK’s waste system at the end of October 2023. These proposals have been dubbed ‘Simpler Recycling.’ They aim to increase, improve, and standardise recycling and waste collections by local authorities across the country for households and businesses.
This should get rid of the current ‘postcode lottery’ where homes in some areas of the country can recycle materials like glass in their domestic recycling bins, while others can’t. The plans also aim to crack down on waste crime, which costs England £1 billion a year, through mandatory digital waste tracking.
There’s a deadline of the end of March 2026 for most of the proposed changes, so there’s plenty of time to get to grips with them. Understand what Defra’s simpler recycling plans are and how they could affect your business or household with these answers to your common questions.
What will change under Defra’s
simpler recycling reforms?
Defra’s simpler recycling reforms will affect households, businesses, and waste carriers. It will change bin collections for households to ensure more materials are recycled and that all homes in England receive the same waste collection services. You should also be able to recycle the same materials at work as you can at home under the proposed reforms.
The main changes that Defra’s simpler recycling is set to introduce are:
- Every local authority in England will collect seven recyclable waste streams from households in their area (including flats). These will be food waste, glass recycling, garden waste, metal, plastic, paper, and card.
- Most UK households will receive weekly food waste collections from their local authority.
- At least once a fortnight there will be residual (general) waste removals from households.
- Charges can continue to be applied by local authorities for garden waste collections.
- Plastic film will be collected as part of the plastic waste stream, but the deadline is a year later by 31 March 2027.
- Waste collectors can collect combined dry recyclables so there’s no need for seven bins per household.
- The same rules will apply to businesses with recycling collections (except for garden waste and plastic film) starting in March 2025. This includes schools and hospitals.
- A central digital system for waste tracking will be introduced for waste carriers, operators, and brokers.
Why are changes to waste
collections being introduced?
There are three main reasons why Defra is set to update the current waste system – to improve recycling rates, simplify waste management, and crack down on waste crime.
Improve recycling rates
Household recycling rates in England have grown from 11% in 2001 to 42% in 2022. However, they’ve stagnated and missed the target of reaching an average of 50% by 2020. Ensuring all domestic waste collections include the seven core recycling streams should improve recycling rates towards the UK’s household waste recycling target of 65% by 2035.
Simplify waste management
Applying Defra’s simpler recycling scheme across all households and businesses will mean the same materials can be recycled at home or work anywhere in the UK. This removes the current ‘postcode lottery’ about what can be recycled where and avoids any confusion. It should encourage manufacturers to design sustainable packaging that’s recyclable anywhere in the UK, helping boost recycling rates.
Crack down on waste crime
Around 18% of waste in England might be managed illegally according to the Environment Agency. This can have a hugely negative impact on the environment and businesses and costs the economy in England £1 billion a year. Reforming the licensing system for waste carriers, brokers, and dealers with mandatory digital waste tracking aims to centralise reporting and reduce illegal waste activity and its negative impact.
When will simpler recycling happen?
The bulk of Defra’s simpler recycling plans aim to be in place by the end of March 2026. However, it’s believed collections of core recycling materials from businesses, schools, and hospitals should be in force earlier by March 2025. Collection of plastic film is also set for later, presumably due to the difficulty of recycling such material.
The main three dates for the changes to bin collections are:
- 31 March 2025 – core recycling should be collected from businesses, schools, and hospitals (garden waste and plastic film are exempt).
- 31 March 2026 – local authorities will provide weekly food waste collections and include all core recycling collections for households (glass, metal, plastic, paper and card, and garden waste).
- 31 March 2027 – plastic film will be removed as part of the plastic waste stream from households and businesses.
How will Defra’s simpler
recycling impact households?
The main impact of Defra’s proposed changes will be that the same waste materials will be collected and recycled from all households in the country. Wherever you live you’ll be able to recycle food waste, glass, garden waste, metal, plastic, paper, and card from your home with your domestic recycling bins.
Local authorities can commingle dry waste, so you won’t have seven bins. Similar to how many bin collections and dry mixed recycling works already you’ll be able to combine paper, card, metal cans and tins in one recycling bin. This should make understanding what materials you can recycle at home easier and increase recycling rates for UK households.
Another big change is that all households should receive food waste collections at least once a week. Garden waste collections will also be available to homes, but charges may apply for these depending on your local authority. Both collections aim to reduce organic waste going to landfill so organic materials are recycled naturally.
How will Defra’s waste
reforms affect businesses?
Businesses will need to arrange collections and recycling of all food waste, glass, metal, plastic, paper, and cardboard they produce by licensed waste carriers. All businesses, schools, hospitals, and other ‘non-household municipal premises in England’ must arrange collection for recycling or composting of the same recyclable waste streams as households under Defra’s new plans – excluding garden waste.
These arrangements must be in place by the end of March 2025. Using commercial waste collection services and licensed waste carriers should ensure compliance with the new plans. You could use separate bins for each recycling stream or dry mixed recycling bin collections to combine paper, cardboard, plastic, and metals for ease.
The government plans to hold a consultation about the definition of ‘non-household municipal premises.’ Depending on the outcome of this it could mean places of worship, prisons, charity shops, and residential hostels are included and will also need to arrange recycling collections in line with the new plans.
How will the changes
affect waste operators?
There are plans to overhaul the system that tracks how waste is handled and the ways data is collected with mandatory waste tracking. The exact details are yet to be released but it should improve detection of waste crime by regulators. New systems will record information from the point waste is produced to when it’s disposed of.
This provides regulators with all the information and evidence required to hold waste criminals to account. An increase in background checks for organisations and individuals who move commercial waste is set to be introduced too. These should make it easier for regulators to identify rogue operators and make it harder for unlicensed waste carriers to get work.
Are there any concerns or
problems with the plans?
Most of the reaction has been positive but a few concerns have been raised. An announcement was initially promised by the end of 2022. With nearly a year’s delay, it wouldn’t be a surprise if deadlines are pushed back again and could make implementation challenging due to this initial delay.
The commingling of materials was also highlighted as disappointing with a preference for enforcing the separation of cardboard and paper as a minimum. This would increase the quality of recycled paper and cardboard produced by removing contamination. However, it does mean fewer bins for households.
Greater detail on how simpler recycling will work with the emerging extended producer responsibility (EPR) regime for packaging is also required. And there are also worries about whether councils and local authorities will have the bins, vehicles, and systems in place in time to deal with the proposals.
You can prepare for these changes in advance and increase your commercial recycling with Business Waste. Get a free quote for any type of waste collection anywhere in the UK today – call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online today.
Have you experienced extra strain carrying your Halloween pumpkin to your car from the supermarket this year? The good news is that there’s nothing to be scared about and you’re not getting weaker – it’s the pumpkins that are getting bigger this year.
Farmers have commented that the wet July and August (with enough sunny intervals) has seen pumpkin crops thrive. A warm September and early October helped ripen the fruits at the right time too. With between 10 and 15 million pumpkins grown and harvested in the UK every year that means most pumpkins sold are bigger and heavier than usual.
You might get more pumpkin for your pound thanks to the miserable summer, but experts at Business Waste are worried it will lead to more pumpkins being wasted. Already around 24 million pumpkins are sold in the UK every year to celebrate Halloween with 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins thrown away that end up in landfill.
“More than half of Brits who buy pumpkins once a year just to make a jack-o’-lantern aren’t aware that they can eat and use the fruit,” says Mark Hall, representative for waste management company Business Waste. “Instead, they scoop out the insides and chuck it straight in the bin, meaning thousands of tonnes of edible pumpkins go to waste. It’s a real shame, especially with the millions of homes in the UK currently experiencing food insecurity.”
How much extra waste food
will bigger pumpkins create?
There are no exact figures about how much bigger pumpkins are compared to last year. However, as 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins are thrown out normally in a year, even a 1% increase in size could lead to significant amounts of extra waste:
- 1% increase in pumpkin size – 180 extra tons – the weight of 30 elephants
- 5% increase in pumpkin size – 900 extra tons – the weight of 150 elephants
- 10% increase in pumpkin size – 1,800 extra tons – the weight of 300 elephants
The average pumpkin that you buy in the supermarket has a diameter of 15 to 25cm and weighs between 2 and 3kg. Medium pumpkins range in size from 60 to 80cm in diameter and can weigh as much as 9kg.
The bigger the pumpkin size you normally buy, the larger it will likely be this year, and the more food waste it will create if disposed of irresponsibly. Unless more consumers eat or use the pumpkin flesh then those buying bigger pumpkins for their porch could create more avoidable food waste in the UK.
“Unfortunately, more food often leads to more waste,” adds Hall. “We encourage people to only buy the number and sizes of pumpkins they need. You should also plan how you’re going to use all of the pumpkin and manage it properly, as after carving a pumpkin it only lasts for 3 days to a week before it starts to rot.”
Could pumpkin waste plummet?
The good news is that last year Tesco reported ten times more people searched for pumpkin recipes on their website than the year before1. Hopefully this suggests more people will be eating the innards of their jack-o-lanterns in 2023 than ever before.
There’s also a growing awareness of the impact of food waste and many recipes and tips out there to help people make the most of their pumpkins. The current cost of living crisis could also encourage more people to think twice and consider cooking and eating them rather than heading straight for the bin. After all, pumpkins are edible fruits.
“There are loads of great ways to eat the innards and flesh of pumpkins,” concludes Hall. “These include traditional sweet and savoury recipes such as pumpkin pie and soups, as well as simply roasting the seeds or blending the flesh to create a homemade pumpkin spiced latte.”
Around 8 out of 10 party stores think banning plastic balloon sticks isn’t a priority, according to our research. Many can’t get down with the idea and believe the focus should be on banning or finding recyclable solutions for more common plastic waste types instead. This includes the millions of crisp packets and plastic packaging thrown away every day.
The UK government extends the single-use plastic ban from 1 October 2023 to cover single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, and balloon sticks – as well as polystyrene food and drink containers. Businesses must not supply, sell, or offer them online or over the counter (including new and existing stock).
It’s a positive step forward to reduce the UK’s plastic waste and litter, as single-use plastics make up around 20% of all litter found on UK beaches. However, balloon sticks are responsible for less than 1% of litter on beaches and a tiny amount of the country’s overall plastic waste. Party planners, entertainers, and retailers believe to make a real difference the ban should focus on other non-recyclable items.
“Banning single-use plastics is important to prevent them ending up in landfill and contributing to pollution,” said Business Waste representative Mark Hall. “Switching from plastic balloon sticks to recyclable and biodegradable alternatives is great. However, many other disposable plastics are much more of a problem for the environment than balloon sticks, like the millions of crisp packets thrown away every day.”
Balloon sticks vs. crisp packets: crunching the numbers
In England every year 16 million single-use plastic balloon sticks are used, while 8.3 billion packets of crisps are sold in the UK annually. Every day 16 million crisp packets are eaten in the UK – creating as many items of waste in 24 hours as balloon sticks do in 365 days.
This leads to an incredible number of crisp packets in landfill, as they can’t be recycled with most domestic recycling. And crisp packets also make up much more litter, accounting for 4.37% of litter found on European beaches.
According to the UK-based report ‘Reducing Household Contributions to Marine Plastic Pollution’, crisp packets make up 12% of plastic items on UK beaches, while balloons and sticks only account for 1% of UK beach litter. Eating and getting tangled up in plastic affects around 700 marine species. And there are stories of crisp packets washing up on beaches 60 years later, such is the lasting damage they can do.
“Responsible disposal is essential to prevent balloon sticks getting into our oceans and harming sea life, but crisp packets pose as much if not a greater danger. The long and thin shape of plastic balloon sticks are a real risk as they can physically damage an animal’s digestive system. But fish, seabirds, seals, and dolphins can choke on crisp packets in the ocean and the tiny microplastics are a real hazard to their health”, adds Hall.
Is a sea of change coming
for party packaging?
Balloons need sticks otherwise they’ll blow away and cause all sorts of environmental damage. With the single-use plastic ban, many alternatives are hitting the market. Businesses are switching from plastic balloon sticks to paper balloon holders or paper balloon sticks. Paper balloon sticks degrade 650 times faster than plastic ones.
Currently, there are no plans to ban balloons, even though most aren’t recyclable or biodegradable. Foil balloons are an exception and TerraCycle has collection points in some Card Factory stores where consumers can recycle them.
Crisp packets are also notoriously difficult to recycle. However, crisp packet recycling is slowly becoming a thing with some supermarkets providing collection points to recycle plastic bags (including some crisp packets). This doesn’t cover all crisp packets and information, awareness, and uptake by consumers are low with a long way still to go.
Hall adds: “Developing recyclable balloon sticks, balloons, and crisp packets can help avoid this waste making its way into landfill and our oceans where it causes havoc for the environment. A better option is to find ways for businesses and homes to reduce plastic use and waste by seeking alternatives. This could be choosing different snacks that come in cardboard packaging that’s easy to recycle or using paper bunting for your next celebration instead of balloons.”
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Use these sustainable Christmas ideas to reduce waste at home or work this festive season. Find out how to have a sustainable Christmas with this guide.
Reducing waste production is a key challenge for every country to tackle pollution and climate change. Global waste generation was 2.24 billion tons in 2020, and is predicted to increase to 3.88 billion tons by 2050, according to the World Bank. Homes and businesses can play their part to cut waste production at the source, but advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are helping across the board.
Waste management involves many processes, from production and storage to transportation, inspection, and disposal. AI is already essential for lots of data processing and behind the scenes work around waste management. It’s now being introduced for more applications that are much more visible and businesses can use to reduce waste, save time, and money.
There are many innovative ways AI benefits the waste management sector and how it can help your business reduce its waste production levels and the associated costs.
Cameras to cut food waste
Around 17% of food produced globally is wasted according to the UN. The food service industry accounts for about 5% of this, so efforts are ongoing to reduce this amount. For example, the average restaurant in The Netherlands throws away around 10,000kg of edible food waste every year.
Trials using cameras and AI software developed by Orbisk are in place within some professional kitchens to cut down on the amount of waste food restaurants, cafes, and takeouts produce. This places cameras above food waste bins in the kitchen. They use AI image recognition technology to identify the type and amount of food waste, its level of processing (prepared, whole, or cutting waste), the time of disposal and reason for disposal.
There’s no need for extra space in the kitchen as cameras are fit to existing food waste bins. The data goes to the Cloud automatically, which restaurant managers, chefs, and other kitchen workers can later access and interpret to see where they waste food and to develop strategies to cut down on this.
Currently there’s a 24-hour turnaround for data to reach the user, but the aim is for instant turnaround as the technology advances. Orbisk claims its cameras and AI technology can help kitchens reduce their food waste by 50%, so it could have a significant impact on reducing commercial kitchen food waste.
Recycling recognition technology
One of the big challenges for waste management and recycling facilities is waste getting mixed up. Just one wrong piece of rubbish can contaminate an entire load and prevent recycling. AI-powered computer vision software developed by Greyparrot tracks 32 billion items of waste every year to help improve the efficiency of waste managers.
After all, as AI can recognise the complex details of human faces, surely identifying your waste should be a breeze? Unlike human faces, the likes of chocolate bar wrappers and crisp packets are pretty much all the same. The technology works as cameras assess waste on a conveyor belt and identify different waste types, faster and more accurately than the human eye.
It provides composition information and analytics about the waste, helping facilities spot waste in the wrong streams and remove it. This can eliminate errors, highlight inefficiencies when sorting waste, and ultimately boost the recycling rates at waste management facilities by ensuring as much recyclable rubbish as possible is processed properly.
Effective route planning for waste trucks
Waste management companies work to determine the most efficient routes to collect garbage from homes and businesses. This saves them money on fuel, which has a positive environmental effect too, and cuts the time it takes so they can make more pickups in a day. AI offers solutions to accurately map the areas that a waste management company covers, which can use historical data and new information to develop the most efficient routes.
Research has found that using AI could reduce transportation distances by up to 36.8% for waste logistics. This could make time savings of up to 28.22%, which leads to better efficiencies and may cut costs for waste collections by up to 13.35%.
Holidays, seasonal events, and traffic regularly impact waste collections, leading to longer and slower routes. AI integration can automatically generate route plans for trucks while they’re out on the road, making changes in real time to avoid traffic jams, road closures, and avoid delays where possible.
Intelligent rubbish bins
The development of ‘intelligent’ rubbish bins uses the power of AI to inform waste management companies when bins are full. Through a variety of smart sensors and IoT technology (Internet of Things) linked up to software used by waste management firms it can improve the efficiency of collections.
Coupled with route planning technology this can optimise waste collections for homes and businesses, ensuring bins are only emptied when full. It prevents waste overflowing and keeps sites hygienic. This saves on time, fuel, and money wasted by trucks to collect and empty half-full bins, maximising the value for money homes and businesses get for their waste management.
Smart sensors inside bins can also track temperature and movements, as well as the fill level. If the temperature gets too high or there’s unexpected movement, it could be due to fire or potential theft. This adds an extra layer of defence to protect the trash and ensure it’s sent for recycling and responsible disposal.
Reducing waste in space
It’s not just rubbish on planet earth that AI helps to combat, it’s now got its sights set on the stars (kind of). The European Space Agency estimates there are more than 170 million bits of debris in space larger than 1mm, which could harm an operational spacecraft. This includes natural meteoroid and human-made orbital debris, such as mission-related debris, spacecraft fragmentation, and nonfunctional spacecraft.
All this waste in space could be dangerous for astronauts navigating orbit, communication networks and weather satellites, and future missions. AI is now helping spearhead a space clean-up. The Department of Defense’s global Space Surveillance Network (SSN) uses sensors to track around 27,000 large bits of space junk, but development is ongoing to use recognition technology to identify smaller debris in space.
Start-ups are innovating to come up with solutions that go beyond just detecting waste in space too. StartRocket is working on a foam debris catcher. It delivers a small satellite into orbit that releases foam as it comes close to a cloud of debris in space, which absorbs the waste. Then it falls from orbit, destroying the debris as it burns up in the atmosphere.
Automating various processes of waste management with AI capabilities can reduce the amount of waste we create and ensure responsible disposal in many ways. Future developments and innovations could hopefully help make waste reduction even easier for homes and businesses to have a positive environmental impact.
Use these sustainable Christmas ideas to reduce waste at home or work this festive season. Find out how to have a sustainable Christmas with this guide.
Business Waste is proud to support Kevin Sinfield’s 7 in 7 in 7 Challenge for the MND community. Learn all about the challenge and how to donate online.
Burning rubbish on a bonfire is illegal and could result in a large fine. Remember, remember the rules this November with what you can burn on a bonfire.
What to do with old candles when they’ve burnt out for the last time is important. Candles may seem like a green way to illuminate your space and add a warming atmosphere, as they don’t rely on electricity. Yet at the end of their life, you’re left with a jar, part of a wick, and some small bits of wax.
How to dispose of a candle responsibly depends on what parts of the candle you’ve got left, the condition, what materials they’re made from, and if you’re getting rid of a candle from your home or business. With the right steps, you can reuse and recycle candles in various ways.
Find out how to dispose of candles in this guide with ideas about what to do with old candle jars, leftover wax, and the wick.
How to dispose of
candles in the UK
To dispose of candles in the UK at home you must first separate the parts of your old candle. Start by scooping out any remnants of candle wax that remain at the bottom of the jar or candle holder. This should be put to one side for reuse or thrown away in your household general waste bin.
Most wax in domestic candles is made of paraffin, vegetable or animal fats, or oils. Recycling candle wax and recovery of this material isn’t economically viable for many local councils and authorities, so general waste is the only option for disposal in most cases. However, you can reuse the candle wax in various ways (see below).
Any remaining bits of wick should also be disposed of with your general waste as they’re not recoverable. If your old candle is in a glass jar then you should clean it out to remove any remnants of wax. Then take it to your local bottle bank or nearest household waste recycling centre (HWRC) to recycle your glass candle jar with other glass waste.
For any other types of candle holders or jars made from materials other than glass, check your local recycling collections. Many plastics can be recycled in your domestic recycling bin. A tea light can be recycled in most household recycling bins too, as they’re made from aluminium that’s highly recyclable. Ensure it’s clean and dry before recycling.
Can you recycle
glass candle jars?
You can recycle glass candle jars with most other old glass bottles and jars. Empty out any leftover wax and wicks then take them to your local bottle bank or HWRC. Recycle glass candle jars in the mixed glass recycling bottle bank or the one for its specific colour.
To recycle glass candle jars from your business you put them in any glass bins you have and add them to your commercial glass waste collections. Again, you must remove any wax and wash out the jars before doing so. This removes contaminants and increases the chance of recycling.
Recycling glass candle jars is important as glass is fully recyclable. It can be endlessly recycled with no loss of quality and is used to create many new glass products. This saves on the energy and resources required to create fresh glass candle jars, resulting in a positive environmental impact.
How to clean candle
jars for recycling
Before recycling any glass candle jars or reusing the wax you need to separate the two. Using a knife and/or spoon to scoop it out sometimes works if the wax is soft and you use a bit of elbow grease (not literally). Often it’s too hard, but there are easier ways to get it out.
There are three main ways to clean out the wax from your candle jars before recycling them:
- Boil and melt – place your candle jar on a heat-safe surface and boil a kettle. Pour the boiling water into the jar, leaving a little room at the top. The melted wax should float to the top and harden as the water cools. Simply pick it out when the water’s cool and scrape away any remaining bits stuck to the jar’s insides, before washing with soap and water.
- Freeze it out – break up the wax a bit if you can and then put the jar in a freezer overnight. When the wax has frozen you should be able to pop it out with a butter knife. Breaking it up beforehand makes removing the frozen wax easier. Then wash the insides with soap and water before recycling.
- Use the hob – place the candle jar in an empty glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. This melts the wax so you can easily pour it out, without the jar itself getting too hot (though wearing oven gloves is advised). Alternatively, have the bowl on a heat-safe surface and pour the boiling water around the candle jar in the bowl but ensure no water goes into the jar. Safely pour out the melted wax then clean the jar.
What to do with
empty candle jars
Rather than recycling candle jars when you’ve cleaned them out and emptied them, they have various other uses. This includes old candle jars made of glass, metal, plastic, or any other material. A few ideas of what to do with empty candle jars include to:
- Hold and display flowers like a vase
- Plant small cacti or other house plants – or grow plants from a seed
- Store pens, make-up brushes, or toothbrushes
- Use to serve drinks, desserts, or snacks (after a thorough cleaning)
- Keep cat and dog treats for easy access
How to dispose of candles
from your business
Any businesses with old candles and jars to dispose of must arrange commercial waste collection. It’s a legal requirement that only licensed waste carriers remove commercial waste from your premises, which includes old candles from shops, hotels, restaurants, and any other business. Use a professional waste management company that ensures recycling of your candles.
An easy way to dispose of candles from your business is to remove any wax and wicks, and then recycle them with your current commercial glass waste collection. Just like recycling candle jars at home, you can dispose of them responsibly at work with other waste glass bottles and jars.
This ensures all the candle jars from your business are recycled and turned into new glass products. It also saves you money on landfill tax by reducing the amount of waste you send to landfill. Arrange commercial waste collections to get rid of old candles whether it’s leftover stock, broken candles, or used ones from tables in a restaurant.
Can you reuse candle wax?
You can reuse candle wax after it’s been used in a candle. It just needs remelting and repurposing to use again as a fresh candle or for other things. If you melt it and mix it with another type of wax it can affect the smell, colour, and consistency.
Never pour candle wax down the drain, as it will cool, harden, and block your pipes. To reuse candle wax you first need to melt the wax left in your old candle jar in a bowl of boiling water or over a simmering pan. Once it’s melted there are a few ways to reuse candle wax to make a:
- New candle – simply pour the melted wax into an old glass candle jar around a wick to create a fresh candle. If you’ve only got a small amount of wax either build it up over time to form a rainbow candle or add it into an empty tealight for a new small candle.
- Wax melt – find a mould or ice cube tray pour your remaining wax into it and leave it to solidify. Add colour and fragrances then when they’re solidified you can bag them up and gift them to friends and family or place any fragranced ones around your home or office.
- Fragrance pouch – if the wax is from a scented candle you can melt it down or break it off and put it in little pouches (or add fragrances when melting down). Place these fragrance pouches inside drawers, wardrobes, and even your car to introduce a fresh fragrance to stale areas.
Can candle wax go
in general waste?
Small amounts of solid candle wax can be disposed of in domestic and commercial general waste bins. If you can’t or don’t want to reuse and recycle candle wax then it should be removed from the jar and thrown away. Never throw a glass jar in general waste as it’s 100% recyclable.
Ensure the wax is cool and dry – don’t throw away warm melting wax as it could stick to the bin or waste bag and pose a fire risk. Put it inside any other rubbish in the general waste bin, such as wrapping it in an empty crisp packet.
Business Waste is proud to support Kevin Sinfield’s 7 in 7 in 7 Challenge for the MND community. Learn all about the challenge and how to donate online.
Burning rubbish on a bonfire is illegal and could result in a large fine. Remember, remember the rules this November with what you can burn on a bonfire.
Changes to the classification of ten waste wood items will come into play from 1 September 2023 in the UK. The new classification of these products as hazardous and potentially hazardous waste will affect both producers of waste wood (businesses) and recyclers. Understand the updated regulations to ensure the proper disposal of your wood waste.
The regulatory changes follow around five years of work and testing by the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) to determine the hazardous waste content of various waste wood products. They mainly affect ‘amber’ waste wood items from the construction and demolition (C&D) sectors, though it could impact some other industries.
Learn all about these changes to wood waste regulations and what your business might need to do to ensure the safe, legal, and responsible disposal of your wood waste.
What are the wood
waste regulation changes?
The Environment Agency (EA) is changing its regulation by withdrawing Regulatory Position Statement (RPS) 250 from 1 September 2023. It means ten wood items from buildings constructed before 2007 will now classify as types of hazardous waste. Wood recyclers won’t accept them unless they’ve undergone appropriate tests to prove they’re not hazardous.
RPS 250 was introduced in July 2021 to allow potentially hazardous ‘amber’ waste wood items from the construction and demolition waste stream to be moved and processed as non-hazardous. Under these new changes, they’ll automatically classify as hazardous waste and require specialist hazardous waste disposal.
The withdrawal of RPS 250 is happening after successful work by the WRA and UK regulators. They’ve collected evidence over five years as part of its Waste Wood Classification Project, which reduced the list of potentially hazardous C&D amber items to ten.
What types of wood waste
now classify as hazardous?
Ten items of waste wood from pre-2007 buildings now classify as hazardous:
- Barge boards
- External fascia
- Soffit boards
- External joinery
- External doors
- Roof timber
- Tiling cladding
- Tiling battens
- Timber frames
- Timber joists
There are four grades of wood waste that all classify as hazardous, non-hazardous, or potentially hazardous:
- Grade A – the cleanest wood type that is not hazardous waste and includes the likes of pallets, packaging crates, and joinery offcuts.
- Grade B and C – may contain potentially hazardous wood so might require testing before disposal. This can include furniture, wooden fittings, and chipboard.
- Grade D – is always classed as hazardous waste and can include wood types found in fencing, railway sleepers, and cooling towers.
What do the wood waste regulation changes
mean for my waste wood collections?
If your organisation produces any of the ten types of waste wood items from pre-2007 buildings they’ll now be treated as hazardous waste. This means you can’t dispose of the likes of external doors or roof timber from pre-2007 buildings with the rest of your wood waste.
Instead, you’ll have to book a separate hazardous waste collection for any of these ten items or arrange suitable testing. You can organise testing of your waste wood items and if it’s proven to not contain any hazardous elements then you can recycle it with the rest of your wood as normal. Confirmation of the test and results must be sent to the wood recyclers.
Research by the WRA estimates that less than 1% of waste wood from C&D activities will contain hazardous content. This represents a small amount of UK waste wood production of around 4,000 tonnes in total. The amount of these potentially hazardous waste wood items is also predicted to fall over time due to newer buildings being constructed and continued testing.
Is household wood waste affected
by these updated regulations?
Household wood waste is regulated by RPS 249. This covers when household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) can accept domestic hazardous waste wood and store it with non-hazardous household waste wood. It was introduced on 1 August 2021 and will be withdrawn by 1 April 2024.
Testing of household wood waste is ongoing. The WRA is currently sampling and testing household waste wood types, with expectations that it may confirm hazardous content is falling and expected to disappear. If you currently have domestic wood waste to recycle, check with your local HWRC for what they accept.
Why can’t wood recyclers
take all my waste wood?
The regulation changes mean most wood recyclers will update their acceptance criteria to exclude the ten types of hazardous wood waste. This is because most wood recyclers don’t have the facilities to dispose of hazardous waste. Upgrading to accept and dispose of hazardous waste properly would come at a great cost to most wood recyclers to deal with only a small amount of waste.
Wood recyclers will continue to accept most non-hazardous wood waste. They can also take and recycle any of the ten potentially hazardous wood waste items if they’ve been tested and certified as non-hazardous. Disposing of hazardous wood waste through proper channels reduces the risk of contamination and ensures safe, legal, and responsible disposal.
Arrange waste wood collection and disposal
Book removal of any type and amount of waste wood your organisation creates anywhere in the UK with Business Waste. We can provide free bins and containers to store your waste wood securely on-site – you only pay for collection. All wood waste is diverted away from landfill where possible.
Our experts can advise on whether your wood may be potentially hazardous and work out the best solution for its disposal. Get in touch for a free quote for commercial wood waste collection today. Contact us online or call 0800 211 8390 and speak to one of our friendly team about your wood waste.
Brits look up tips to lose weight, delete Instagram, and make pancakes over 70,000 times more than recycling advice every month, according to recent online search engine data.
Around 8.5 billion Google searches are made globally every day. This includes millions in the UK that provide a good indicator of topics of interest to the public. But how many relate to recycling? Fewer than the number of people looking up ‘Barbie dream house’ combined it seems (36,000 searches a month).
According to what we’re searching online, most of us are more interested in learning how to solve a Rubik’s cube than finding out where to recycle batteries. With household recycling rates stagnating across the past ten years in the UK, could few searches for recycling tips and information signal a dwindling lack of interest in recycling by the British public?
What does Business Waste think about
low recycling search volumes?
“Data about what we search for online provides a clear indication of the topics that are most important to the general public,” says Business Waste representative Mark Hall. “For example, over spring and summer searches for Oppenheimer and Barbie rocketed as anticipation for both blockbuster films grew.
“Recycling isn’t seasonal, it’s a year-round activity. Unfortunately, our research suggests limited interest in learning how to recycle all sorts of materials in the home and workplace.”
Top ‘How to recycle…’ searches
To get a good idea of what items and materials Brits are most interested in recycling we looked at the most common search terms starting with ‘how to recycle…’ by volume. This was done using the Keywords Explorer tool from Ahrefs – provider of leading SEO (search engine optimisation) tools – and filtering to UK results.
The results highlight that people search most for information about how to recycle common materials like plastic, paper, and glass. Trickier items to recycle like polystyrene and light bulbs are also high on the list, as well as searches for recycling methods for the latest trend that’s hard to recycle – vapes.
These are some of the most searched-for ‘how to recycle…’ terms every month in the UK:
Top ‘How to…’ searches
To provide some context, contrast the online searches for terms starting with ‘how to…’ that have the highest volume. There are tens of thousands more every month for a range of useful (and questionable) information. In some ways, it shows Brits care more about knowing how to delete their social media accounts than finding ways to recycle and dispose of waste properly.
“The fact that tens of thousands of us are searching for tips to solve a Rubik’s cube compared to just a handful wanting to know how to recycle plastic bottles suggests recycling has fallen down the list of priorities,” adds Hall.
“And for anyone interested, less than 10 people a month search for ‘how to recycle a Rubik’s cube’. We’d advise donating it to a charity shop or passing it on to someone else.”
These are some of the most searched-for ‘how to…’ terms every month in the UK:
Weird ‘how to recycle’ searches
Online search data always throws up a few funny surprises and ‘how to recycle…’ terms are no different. There might not be many, but a few people are still trying to find out ways to recycle underwear (only if it’s clean!) and floppy disks (remember them?). Plus a few are seeking meta-information about recycling a recycle bin.
|How to recycle search terms||Monthly searches (UK)|
|how to recycle old underwear||20|
|how to recycle recycle bin||20|
|how to recycle toilets||10|
|how to recycle hair||10|
|how to recycle 3.5 floppy disks||10|
|how to recycle old keys||10|
|how to recycle cut grass||10|
Increase interest in recycling
Household waste recycling rates have more than doubled in England from 19% in 2003/4 to 44.1% in 2021, according to the latest government figures. However, stagnation means there’s lots of work for the UK to meet its waste recycling target of 65% by 2035.
“Online search data isn’t an exact measure of recycling activities and through our work we see many businesses and households upping their recycling efforts. As a general guide for trends and public interest, the low search volumes for many recycling terms are concerning. Most of us spend half our lives online, so hopefully a boost to recycling search terms will be represented with a real increase in recycling in the real world,” concludes Hall.
Mandatory food waste reporting will not be introduced for large businesses in England after a consultation by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). This is despite 80% of almost 4,000 respondents being in favour of new food waste legislation in the UK for waste food reporting by large and medium-sized businesses.
Currently, food waste reporting is voluntary, which is set to continue for the next few years. More than 200 businesses voluntarily reported their waste food figures in 2022 and year-on-year data shows such organisations managed to reduce their food waste. However, there are concerns about costs and inflation, which led to mandatory reporting being ruled out.
Learn all about food waste reporting, what the consultation found, the advantages and disadvantages, and what the future holds for food waste reporting.
Why was there a
food waste reporting consultation?
The UK creates 9.5 million tonnes of food waste annually, with most of it produced by households. This has a total cost of around £19 billion and associated emissions of 36 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Of this amount, businesses create more than 2.9 million tonnes of food waste every year.
The UK government has a 25-Year Environment Plan that aims to improve the environment. Food waste plays a part in this and the Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) for England outlines the government’s approach to food waste in the country. It includes a pledge to consult on annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses.
For this reason, Defra ran its food waste reporting consultation to assess the views of those across various industries and determine any actions to take. The consultation aimed to gather thoughts about:
- Food waste reporting improvement options
- Businesses in scope
- Waste food materials to be reported
- The reporting process businesses should follow
- Costs and impacts
- Regulatory enforcement
Food waste reporting
The consultation ran from 13 June 2022 to 5 September 2022, with the summary of responses and government response published on 28 July 2023. These are some of the key results and data from the consultation about mandatory food waste reporting:
- There were 3,851 respondents to the consultation.
- 39% of respondents qualified as large-sized businesses
- 80% of respondents were in favour of Option 2, requiring food waste measurement and reporting for large food businesses. Individuals, respondents from charities and social enterprises, and hospitality and retail sectors, all primarily shared this view.
- 64% of respondents didn’t agree that medium-sized businesses (MSBs) should be outside the scope of any regulations. However, only 4% of respondents responding to this question qualified as MSBs.
- Around half of all large food businesses in England measured and reported their food waste figures voluntarily in 2022.
The government’s response also refers to WRAP’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap Progress Report 2021. This uses data from businesses that voluntarily reported their food waste and found:
- 140 businesses with year-on-year data made a 17% overall reduction in food waste in 2021. This was worth £365 million.
- Businesses measuring and reporting food waste data year-on-year collectively saved 251,000 tonnes of food from going to waste in 2021.
- These businesses reported increased efficiency reducing waste per tonne of food handled by 13 to 15%.
Advantages of mandatory
food waste reporting
The main advantage of mandatory food waste reporting is that it should help businesses reduce the amount of waste food they produce. As the progress report by WRAP shows, of the 140 businesses that provided voluntary food waste reporting in 2021 they achieved an average of 17% reduction in food waste.
Another key advantage of mandatory food waste reporting is the amount of money it can also save businesses. The same WRAP report found organisations that reported their food waste managed to save a total of £365 million. And cutting food waste also helps reduce carbon emissions related to its transportation and disposal.
There’s a decent uptake of voluntary food waste reporting by businesses. Making it mandatory with new food waste legislation in the UK would ensure all relevant companies take action. This could help the country work towards its target to cut food waste by 50% by 2030 and positively impact the environment.
Disadvantages of mandatory
food waste reporting
One of the main issues with mandatory food waste reporting and reasons why the government hasn’t yet implemented it is the costs involved. It’s estimated that the total average annual reporting costs to business would be around £5.3 million. That’s significantly more than the £0.3 million to enhance current voluntary food waste reporting agreements.
The total cost across the 12-year appraisal period is estimated to be £63.8m to require food waste measurement and reporting for large food businesses. That’s compared to £11.7m for enhancing voluntary reporting. Reporting for large food businesses works out at up to £32,362 per year for a business new to food waste reporting.
One body that opposed mandatory reporting due to such cost issues was the National Farmers Union. The voluntary approach to food waste reporting has also proved fairly successful, so continuing to encourage this without the costs and time involved to bring in new legislation is the government’s preferred route.
The future of
food waste reporting
A voluntary approach to food waste reporting will remain in place for a few years. There will be a review sometime in mid-2025 to assess the impact and whether UK food waste legislation is required to bring in mandatory food waste reporting or not. This could involve another consultation.
Keeping a record and reporting surplus and waste food from your business is advisable whether it becomes mandatory or not. This can highlight areas where waste food is produced regularly so you can put in place solutions to reduce it as much as possible. Plus, it can ensure your business is prepared if mandatory food waste reporting is introduced.
Get help with your
commercial food waste management
At Business Waste, we encourage all organisations to reduce their food waste as much as possible. Our experts can advise where necessary and help you create an effective waste management plan. We also arrange collections of commercial food waste and ensure responsible disposal. It’s sent for composting or anaerobic digestion, never to landfill.
We provide a wide range of free bins to store food waste your business produces with no rental or delivery fees – you only pay for collection. Book food waste collection on a daily, weekly, or fortnightly schedule to suit your schedule. Collections are available anywhere in the UK.
Could chants of “we recycle more than you!”, “you’re unsustainable, and you know you are!”, and “who’s the ****** not recycling!” be bellowed from the terraces this season? If so, don’t expect to hear many in a Scouse or Brummie accent. That’s according to a revised Premier League table based on recycling rates in the areas of each stadium.
At Business Waste we used the latest data for household waste recycling rates across England to predict how this season’s Premier League could pan out. Rather than focusing on wins, draws, and losses, the rankings use the recycling rates of the local authority that covers every stadium’s location.
Data covering recycling rates for individual constituencies isn’t available, which means Everton and Liverpool are tied, as are Chelsea and Fulham. These teams are placed in alphabetical order (and given their positions, there aren’t any worries about bragging rights). To make things fair all data is from 2021/22, as government data for 2022/23 is yet to be released.
Highlighting recycling differences across England
“Awarding points for the teams that win the most is all well and good, but it gets a bit boring when Man City lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the season again,” says Business Waste representative Mark Hall.
“To make things interesting this year and to highlight the differences between recycling in places across England and the work to be done, we thought it a good time to bring recycling rates into the equation.”
The Premier League recycling rate table
Premier League recycling winners and losers
“Erik ten Hag will be hoping Trafford Council’s great work boosting recycling rates across the borough is replicated on the pitch if Manchester United are to topple their title-winning rivals across the city. And new Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola would be working miracles should their position here comes to fruition in the proper Premier League table,” adds Hall.
“At the other end it might be another season of struggle for Everton and Forest, which won’t surprise many of their fans. Liverpool and Villa supporters are more likely to be up in arms if their local authority’s poor recycling rates are reflected in their results this season.”
- The recycling rate for waste from households in England was 44.1% for the 2021/22 season Only Manchester United and Bournemouth’s stadiums are in areas with above-average recycling rates.
- Birmingham has the fourth-worst recycling rate in England5, which resulted in Aston Villa being rock bottom. If there were a few more teams from England’s second city in the top tier, then Liverpool and Everton could have survived (before any Birmingham City or West Brom fans start gloating).
- London teams experienced mixed fortunes. Crystal Palace proudly edge into fourth and secure that valuable Champions League place, while Brentford also sit comfortably in the top ten. It’s another story for West Ham though, who only just survive.
for the Premier League
The table shows there’s still plenty of work for most areas in England to reach the government’s target of recycling 50% of all household waste. While Premier League clubs can’t have a direct impact, they can all play their part to encourage increased recycling and sustainability for their clubs and fans.
Many teams are working towards a greener future. The Premier League Sustainability Rankings considers what clubs themselves are doing to improve their climate credentials. Last season Spurs and Liverpool came out on top, showing that while their local authorities may be falling behind they take sustainability more seriously. And unlike the recycling rate table, Bournemouth find themselves down at the bottom of the sustainability rankings.
Hall adds: “Given the huge amount of money floating around in football it’s about time more teams invested in sustainable waste solutions inside and outside their stadiums. Running a football club that’s as green as its pristine pitch should be the goal for every top-tier team in England.”
Improve recycling rates at your sports club
Run a football club, rugby team, tennis courts, or any other sporting organisation? Boost your recycling efforts with the help of Business Waste. We offer everything from waste audits and waste management plans to collections of any type and amount of recycling rubbish anywhere in the UK.
We can provide free bins for your recycling, so you only pay for collection. This helps separate your commercial waste and ensure as much as possible is recycled, benefiting the environment and your sports club. Get a free no obligation quote for waste collection in the UK today – call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online.
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a new UK regulation that aims to increase the responsibility of businesses that supply or import packaging. It’s a reform to the current Packaging Waste Regulations that will change the management and funding of packaging waste. The costs of managing packaging once it becomes waste will shift to the producers rather than the consumers.
Any organisation in the UK that produces, supplies, or imports packaging will need to report packaging data and ensure EPR compliance when it comes into effect. In July 2023 it was announced that the full introduction of the UK EPR scheme will be pushed back by a year. Businesses should still start preparing for the scheme though.
Getting to grips with extended producer responsibility can seem complex before it’s enforced. Understand what EPR is and whether your business will be affected and need to make any changes with our detailed guide.
What is EPR?
EPR is an environmental policy where the producer’s responsibility for a product extends to the post-consumer stage. In the UK, EPR refers to the new extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging waste. This means companies that produce, supply, and import packaging will be responsible for the costs of managing it once it becomes waste.
The new EPR scheme will move the cost to dispose of packaging waste from taxpayers to the producers. Organisations may need to:
- Collect and report data about the packaging they supply and/or import
- Pay waste management, administrator, and environmental regulator fees
- Meet recycling obligations with packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNs)
The idea of EPR for packaging is that if the products created add to pollution, then the producer rather than the user should cover the costs of its impact on the environment and human health. EPR is set to build on and replace existing packaging waste regulations.
Why is EPR for packaging
being introduced in the UK?
The UK produces more than 10 million tonnes of packaging waste every year. Around two-thirds of this are recyclable or reusable, yet vast amounts make their way to landfill sites across the country. By placing the responsibility and costs for packaging disposal on the producers, EPR aims to encourage businesses to develop more sustainable and recyclable packaging.
An increase in costs for packaging producers should kickstart an improvement in creating and using formats and materials that are recyclable. This should have a positive effect on the environment and reduce the associated costs for businesses, as recycling is more cost-effective than sending waste to landfill and other disposal methods.
Introducing EPR for packaging also helps the UK government make small steps towards its various environmental targets. This includes eliminating all avoidable waste by 2050 and reducing residual waste production per capita by 50% by 2042. The government is also following the example of other countries that have introduced EPR for packaging waste.
Research by The Recycling Partnership in the USA found a positive impact of EPR on packaging and paper when introduced in seven other regions. It found EPR increased the collection and recycling of target materials to more than 75% in British Columbia, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, and South Korea. In Portugal and Quebec, it was over 60%.
Who does the EPR
scheme apply to?
The EPR scheme applies to any organisation in the UK that supplies or imports packaging. Normally EPR applies to a brand owner or importer. This includes any business that:
- Supplies packaged goods to the UK market under your own brand
- Puts items into packaging that’s unbranded when it’s supplied
- Imports products in packaging
- Owns an online marketplace
- Hires or loans out reusable packaging
- Provides empty packaging
If your business does any of the above then it will need to collect and report its packaging data. EPR regulations apply to any UK organisation that:
- Is an individual business, subsidiary, or group (but not a charity)
- Has an annual turnover of £1 million or more (based on your most recent annual accounts)
- Was responsible for more than 25 tonnes of packaging in 2022
- Carries out any of the packaging activities
For example, imagine you run a food company with branded packaging for your goods. You supply supermarkets and other food retailers with your products that are sold to consumers in the UK. Here the food company must comply with EPR regulations. But if the food items were sold under the supermarket’s branded packaging then the supermarket would be responsible.
You do not have to act under EPR in the UK if you import goods in packaging that’s:
- Branded – you import it for an established brand owner in the UK
- Unbranded – you supply it to a ‘large’ organisation that applies its brand before it’s sold
How does extended producer
Extended producer responsibility requires all eligible companies to comply with the scheme. This involves submitting packaging data on time and covering the net cost of packaging waste management and disposal for their own products. Extended producer responsibility works by businesses following these general steps:
- Businesses that produce, supply, or import packaging in the UK collect the required packaging data. This includes in-house and supply chain information.
- Organisations should get any PRN (packaging waste recycling note) or PERN (packaging waste export recycling note) as evidence that their packaging waste was recycled.
- Enrol on the government EPR portal and prepare to submit your data report and meet financial obligations. This might include paying a waste management fee, scheme administrator costs, and charges to the environmental regulator.
- Report and submit your packaging data for the specific period by the agreed deadline. You might have to include nation data about which country the packaging is supplied to and discarded in. Your packaging report must include details about:
- Packaging activity – how you supplied the packaging
- Packaging type – household or non-household packaging
- Packaging class – if the packaging is primary, secondary, shipment or tertiary
- Packaging material and weight
- Repeat the process for the next EPR deadline. During this time many businesses will seek recyclable and sustainable packaging options to reduce the environmental and financial impact of their operations.
When will EPR legislation
The Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2023 came into effect on 28 February 2023. This means producers of packaging should already be collecting and reporting data about the amount and type of packaging they place on the market in England. Large organisations should have registered for the EPR packaging online service by April 2023, while for smaller companies it opens in 2024.
Large organisations in the UK must submit packaging data between 1 January 2024 and 1 April 2024 (this is to cover the period of 1 July 2023 to 31 December 2023). Small organisations should work to the same dates but for data from 1 March 2023 to 31 December 2023.
The introduction of EPR legislation is phased though. In July 2023 the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced a delay for payments for extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging by a year, pushing it back to October 2025. Defra claims the delay is to help efforts to drive down inflation
From October 2025 onwards producers will pay fees based on the recyclability/sustainability of their packaging. The exact charges will depend on how widely recycled the material is and other factors. More detailed data on packaging materials will be necessary at this point compared to what’s reported in the current system.
How much could
EPR tax cost?
The exact cost of the new EPR tax is yet to be announced by the UK government. However, it will likely vary between businesses and depend on the amount and type of packaging supplied or imported. There may also be differences across nations and further measures and changes may apply to the EPR tax.
Under the new EPR scheme, 30% of plastic packaging must contain recycled content that’s placed on the UK market by a producer. A charge of £200 per tonne will apply to any plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled material.
How to prepare for EPR
One advantage of the delay to extended producer responsibility regulations is that businesses have an extra year to prepare for them. Understanding whether EPR legislation will affect your organisation and what you need to do is vital to comply with these new regulations. Important ways to prepare for EPR as a business include to:
- Check whether EPR applies to your organisation or not – your suppliers may hold responsibility.
- Identify any areas of your business where EPR applies and understand its impact.
- Model the regulatory costs and factor upcoming EPR charges into your budget to financially prepare for such change.
- Plan how you’ll gather, collect, and store all data about your packaging and waste. Check your data is accurate and provides complete coverage.
- Consider alternative packaging options to ensure full recyclability and other ways to use sustainable packaging that’s environmentally friendly and financially beneficial for your business.
Advantages and disadvantages of
extended producer responsibility
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) aims to have a positive environmental impact and transfer waste management costs to the producers. In the long run, it should benefit businesses, councils, and households, but there are still some concerns for the short term. There are various advantages and disadvantages of extended producer responsibility:
Advantages of EPR
- Increases the recyclability of packaging
- Reduces the amount of packaging waste in landfill
- Encourages more sustainable packaging designs
- Businesses are likelier to seek out alternative eco-friendly packaging solutions
- Packaging producers cover the costs of waste disposal
Disadvantages of EPR
- Could place a financial burden on producers of packaging
- Implementation of packaging changes could take a long time
- Complex system with slightly different rules across the UK nations
- Producers could increase prices to match any EPR tax additions
- Growing businesses may change from small to large organisations, causing complications in data reporting
Get help with
your packaging waste
At Business Waste we have a team of experts who can help with any questions you’ve got about managing your packaging waste. We can provide free bins for all types and amounts of packaging waste with no delivery or hire fees – you only pay for collection. Regular and one-off removals are available.
Call 0800 211 8390 to speak to one of our experts about your packaging waste or contact us online with your query or to arrange a callback. We can also provide a free no obligation quote for packaging waste collection from your business anywhere in the UK.
POPs is an acronym for persistent organic pollutants. These are chemical substances that don’t break down and can be harmful to humans and the environment. They also spread easily via air, water, and wildlife. The main types of POPs waste include upholstered domestic seating (armchairs, sofas, and office chairs) and electrical devices and components.
The Environment Agency introduced new regulations on 1 January 2023 covering the storage and disposal of POPs waste. Homes and businesses must ensure any waste they have that contains any persistent organic pollutants is managed, removed, and disposed of safely and in line with this legislation. POPs waste cannot be disposed of in landfill sites.
Learn all you need to know about what POPs waste is, common examples of POPs waste, and how to dispose of it properly.
What are persistent organic pollutants?
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are toxic chemical substances that are harmful to human health and the environment. They don’t break down and remain in the environment for a long time, negatively affecting any wildlife and humans they encounter. POPs can transfer by air, and water, and pass from one species to another through the food chain.
This means the impact of POPs can spread far from where they’re produced, used, and released into the environment. Some of the most common examples of persistent organic pollutants are synthetic chemicals used for pest and disease control, crop production, and industrial purposes. These can be produced intentionally or unintentionally (such as byproducts of combustion and industrial processes).
Common persistent organic pollutants examples include:
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – used in electrical equipment
- Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) – pesticides and insecticides
- Dioxins and furans – often byproducts of industrial processes
Examples of POPs waste
POPs waste doesn’t just affect industries and organisations that produce chemical waste. Various items of furniture and old electrical and electronic devices and products could contain persistent organic pollutants found in homes and businesses. These must be identified, managed, and disposed of responsibly.
Some of the most common examples of POPs waste found in homes and businesses include upholstered domestic seating. POPs may be present in any parts that contain or are made of leather, synthetic leather, fabric, or foam. Often they’re in the back of the covers and in the foam, which may contaminate any lining and wadding in contact with it.
Common examples of upholstered seating that may contain POPs are:
- Sofas, sofa beds, and futons
- Kitchen and dining room chairs
- Stools and footstools
- Home office chairs
- Bean bags, floor and sofa cushions
The other main types of waste that may contain POPs are electrical items. PCBs were widely used in electrical equipment, while circuit boards that are present in various items can also include certain types of persistent organic pollutants. Examples of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) that may contain POPs include:
- Printers and photocopiers
- LCD screens
- Cathode ray tubes (CRTs)
- Ni-Cad batteries
- Fluorescent tubes
What could be exempt
from POPs regulation?
The manufacture, sale, and use of products containing POPs are now banned. Many items of upholstered domestic seating that class as POPs waste contain decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE). This is a flame-retardant chemical, but its use has been banned since 2019. Therefore, any upholstered seating made after 2019 shouldn’t contain POPs (though you should still check).
Other types of domestic seating that may not contain POPs and should be exempt from regulation include:
- Seats that aren’t upholstered – like wooden chairs without a cushioned/textile back, seat, or arms
- Mattresses, curtains, blinds, and beds
- Newly manufactured domestic seating (post-2019) that the manufacturer can demonstrate doesn’t contain POPs
The Persistent Organic Pollutants Regulations 2007 requires the destruction of POPs in any waste to protect the environment and impacts on the food chain. It means any waste containing POPs must be incinerated and never reused, recycled, or landfilled. The regulation also makes production and placing on the market any POPs an offence.
The waste management of POPs is covered by this regulation. Any producer or holder of POPs waste who fails to dispose of or recover it in compliance with these regulations commits an offence. Anyone breaching these regulations could face potential penalties of a fine or imprisonment.
In the UK, the Environment Agency brought new legislation into effect from 1 January 2023 for the storage and disposal of POPs waste. These new compliance procedures mean local authorities are now legally required to change their processes for dealing with potential POPs waste. Essentially, any upholstered domestic seating waste must be incinerated.
How do you dispose
of POPs waste?
All POPs waste should be stored separately away from other waste types to prevent contamination. If any non-POP waste becomes mixed up with them then the entire load must be treated as POPs waste. This is because the chemicals can spread and contaminate the other waste, meaning it’s now a type of POPs waste.
To determine whether your waste contains persistent organic pollutants you should check any paperwork that came with the item or device. This should list the materials and chemical components, including any POPs. If you can’t find the paperwork or are still unsure, you could:
- Ask the supplier or manufacturer whether it contains POPs
- Test the material yourself to check for any evidence of POPs
- Get the material analysed by a laboratory
Domestic upholstered seating or mixed waste containing POPs must be disposed of through incineration. This destroys the chemicals, preventing their release into the environment. Any municipal or hazardous waste incinerator (or cement kiln) used must be authorised to accept POPs waste. Recycling, reuse, and other treatment methods are not acceptable to dispose of POPs waste.
What should I do with
my POPs waste?
For any POPs waste you’ve got at home you should check if your local household waste recycling centre (HWRC) accepts upholstered domestic seating. Most HWRCs do, just ensure you keep it separate from other waste and dispose of your POPs waste in the correct container at the site. Your local authority can advise on the process.
Businesses must arrange commercial waste collection by licensed waste carriers for any waste containing POPs. At Business Waste we can provide a free no obligation quote to remove and dispose of any kind and amount of POPs waste from companies anywhere in the UK. One-off collections and disposal of domestic POPs waste is also available.
Licensed waste carriers remove your waste and ensure responsible disposal (incineration) with a free duty of care certificate provided for added peace of mind. Contact us online or call 0800 211 8390 for a free quote for collection of any type and amount of waste that may contain persistent organic pollutants from your home or business today.
Single use plastic cutlery, plates, and cups are cheap and convenient, but their disposal is problematic. They don’t break down and can leach chemicals, adding to pollution if they end up in landfill. Even though most single use plastics are recyclable only 10% of single use plastic items are recycled.
To reduce this negative environmental impact the UK government is introducing a single use plastic ban in England from October 2023. This follows on from the existing plastic ban on microbeads in 2018 and single use plastic straws in 2020. And there’s already a single use plastic ban in Scotland that came into force in June 2022.
If your business in England relies on single use plastic products in any form you should be adapting to comply with the ban. To help your organisation prepare for the ban on single use plastic we’ve answered the most important questions about it and provided some useful tips to remove single use plastics from your operations.
What are single use plastics?
Single use plastics – also known as disposable plastics – are items made from plastic designed to be used once and then thrown away. They’re made from a variety of fossil fuel-based chemicals (petrochemicals) depending on the product. Common examples of single use plastics include disposable plastic cutlery, plates, and straws.
Up to 50% of plastic products are single use plastics around the world. This reflects the disposable lifestyle and culture that’s developed globally, and many industries rely on. While many single use plastics are recyclable lots end up in general waste, landfill, and as litter due to their throwaway nature.
Single use plastics aren’t biodegradable but will break down eventually. However, as they degrade it releases toxic chemicals from the additives used to create the plastic products. These can leach into the ground, water, and air, which adds to pollution levels and harms human health, wildlife, and the environment.
What single use plastics
will be banned?
The single use plastics ban in England has the official legislative title of ‘The Environmental Protection (Plastic Plates etc. and Polystyrene Containers etc.) (England) Regulations 2023’. When it comes into force it will make it an offence for businesses to supply, sell, or offer specific single use plastic items and products in England.
The ban covers single use plastic:
- Balloon sticks
- Polystyrene cups (expanded and extruded polystyrene)
- Polystyrene food containers (expanded and extruded polystyrene)
Are there any exemptions to the
single use plastic ban in England?
There are a few exemptions to the England single use plastics ban for specific items:
- Single use plastic plates, bowls, and trays – you can still supply these if it’s to another business or they’re pre-supplied packaging (pre-filled or filled at the point of sale). Examples include a pre-filled salad bowl packaged in a tray, a plate filled at a takeaway counter, or a tray to deliver food.
- Single use polystyrene food and drinks containers – food or drink can still be supplied in polystyrene containers when it requires additional preparation before consumption. For example, this could mean adding water, microwaving, or toasting.
There are no exemptions for supplying single use plastic cutlery and balloon sticks.
How will the single use plastic
ban be enforced?
Local authorities will have the power to carry out inspections and ensure the new rules of the plastic ban are followed by all businesses. This includes the right to visit a shop or store, make test purchases, speak to staff, and ask to see records. Any business breaching the single use plastic ban may be issued with a fine.
The size of the fine may vary and cover the investigation costs. Complaints of breaking the law can be made to Trading Standards. The business should receive a letter detailing the offence and fine and the next steps, including the option to appeal within 28 days. Failure to comply with the notice may lead to criminal proceedings.
When does the single use plastic ban
in the UK come into force?
The single use plastic ban in the UK is being introduced across different dates for England, Scotland, and Wales:
- The single use plastic ban in Scotland has been in action since 1 June 2022.
- In England, the single use plastics ban comes into force from 1 October 2023.
- The single use plastic ban in Wales is being introduced in two phases. Most single use plastics will be banned from Autumn 2023, but the following items won’t be banned until 2024 – single-use plastic carrier bags, polystyrene lids for cups and takeaway food containers, and oxo-degradable plastic products.
Why is the UK government
banning single use plastics?
The main reason the UK government is banning single use plastics is to boost efforts to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. Currently, in England, around 2.7 billion single-use cutlery items (mostly plastic) and 721 million single-use plates are thrown away every year. This ban aims to wipe out such waste.
Plastic cutlery was in the top 15 most littered items in the UK by count in 2020. And according to the European Commission, the 10 most common single-use plastic products found on European beaches account for 70% of all marine litter in the EU (alongside fishing gear).
Banning single use plastics means businesses will need to use and offer sustainable alternatives. Many single use plastics are tricky to recycle, so these alternatives should be reusable, compostable, or easier to recycle. The ban should hopefully reduce the amount of plastic waste disposed of improperly (such as in landfill and littering).
This may have a positive knock-on effect to help reduce pollution levels and carbon emissions related to such plastic waste disposal and recycling. The UK government has seen successes with previous bans and restrictions, like the carrier bag charge cutting sales by more than 97% in major supermarkets and hopes to replicate such results with this new plastic ban.
Who will the single use
plastic ban affect?
The single use plastic ban affects any business that sells or supplies disposable plastic items covered by the new ban. This includes selling and supplying any of the banned single use plastics online and over the counter (including items from new and existing stock). The food services, retail, and hospitality industries will be particularly impacted.
Some of the main businesses the government ban on single use plastic will affect include:
- Takeaways – no more polystyrene containers to serve up takeaway food
- Restaurants – you won’t be able to provide takeaways of leftovers in single-use plastic containers
- Bakeries – single use plastic coffee cups, plates, and bowls will be banned
- Shops – selling disposable plastic cutlery and other items covered by the ban
- Airports – shops and food outlets won’t be allowed to use disposable plastic cutlery, cups, plates, and bowls
How to prepare your business
for the ban on single use plastic
Such a big change and the potential penalties for breaching the plastic ban in the UK means businesses need to be ready for the new rules. Companies in every industry must be compliant with the rules, whether you only provide a few disposable plastic spoons to customers in an ice cream café or regularly use polystyrene food containers.
There are a few things your business should do to prepare for the ban on single use plastic properly:
- Check your stock for disposable products – do an inventory of all single use plastic products your business still has and plan to use, sell, or donate them all before 1 October 2023.
- Stop ordering new single use plastics – avoid an excess of single use plastic cutlery, plates, and containers by cancelling all orders as soon as possible.
- Find alternatives to single use plastic items – explore reusable, compostable, and biodegradable alternative solutions to the single use plastic items you currently use. Speak to your existing suppliers to see if they can offer an alternative and search for sustainable suppliers.
- Assess the costs – switching to different products and new suppliers will affect the costs to your business. Analyse how this fits with your budget and whether it’s the best choice.
- Consider the consumer – ensure whatever alternatives you source are still of a high quality that will impact your consumers as little as possible. Especially as most single use plastic items are used for food and drink, you’ll need to ensure the alternatives you use still meet all relevant food safety standards.
- Introduce plastic recycling bins – ensure you can recycle all types of plastic waste your business produces with an effective plan in place and the right number and sizes of bins.
Arrange plastic recycling
for your business
The ban on single use plastic will benefit the environment, but many businesses and homes continue to create plastic waste. Your organisation must play its part with a strong plastic recycling program in place. At Business Waste we provide free plastic recycling bins – you only pay for collection.
This helps companies across all industries separate plastic waste from other rubbish to ensure as much as possible is recycled and reused. Bin deliveries and collections are available anywhere in the UK. Get your free quote for plastic waste collection today – call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online.
Buying a wheelie bin may seem like a sensible solution to store waste safely at your business or home. Working out the best price for a wheelie bin can be tricky though. There’s no single wheelie bin price and they vary greatly in cost across different suppliers and manufacturers.
How much a wheelie bin is usually depends on its size and quality (the material it’s manufactured from and any standards it meets). The price of wheelie bins for sale currently ranges from £30 to more than £200 based on the size and the seller. Buying a wheelie bin isn’t always the most cost-effective option though.
Avoid the cost and hassle of buying a wheelie bin with Business Waste. Get free wheelie bins delivered to your organisation anywhere in the UK – you only pay for collection. Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online for a free no obligation quote tailored to the specific type, size, and number of wheelie bins you need.
How much does a
wheelie bin cost?
The cost of wheelie bins varies greatly. How much a wheelie bin costs mainly depends on the size, quality, seller, and number of bins you buy (as some places offer discounts for bulk buying). Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from as little as £30 if you buy a few of the smallest bins together to upwards of £250 for a standalone four-wheel bin.
One of the main things that impact the price of wheelie bins is their size. The manufacturer, supplier, and seller may adapt the price, but the general costs of wheelie bins based on their size are:
- 120 litre wheelie bin price – holds one to three waste bags and costs between £30 and £40
- 240 litre wheelie bin price – holds three to four waste bags and costs between £40 and £70
- 360 litre wheelie bin price – holds five or six bags of waste and costs between £65 and £110
- 660 litre wheelie bin price – holds 10 to 12 waste bags and costs between £150 and £220
- 1100 litre wheelie bin price – stores up to 18 bags of waste and costs anywhere upwards of £240
This is just a rough pricing guide as the cost of wheelie bins can vary greatly across suppliers and depending on whether you buy in bulk or just purchase a single wheelie bin.
How much are
wheelie bins to rent?
Some waste management companies may charge rental or hire fees to use their wheelie bins to store your commercial waste. Renting should be cheaper than buying a wheelie bin. Hire costs for wheelie bins often depend on their size, waste type, collection frequency, how long you need to use them, and where your business is based.
Rental prices for wheelie bins vary greatly from as little as £1 or £2 a day to £60 a week. The supplier and number of wheelie bins you rent at a time can all impact the price. It should still work out cheaper than renting a skip for your commercial waste.
At Business Waste we provide free wheelie bins for your company to use – you only pay for collection. There are no rental charges or costs to hire or purchase any wheelie bin, whatever the size, type, and number of wheelie bins you need and wherever your business is based in the UK.
Things to consider when
buying a wheelie bin
Buying a wheelie bin is unlikely to be the biggest purchase your business makes, but you still want to ensure every penny you spend returns some kind of value. It’s important to consider whether buying one or more wheelie bins is the most cost-effective way for your organisation to manage its commercial waste.
Before you start looking at buying a wheelie bin online and comparing prices from suppliers, ask yourself a few important questions:
- Do you need to buy a wheelie bin? Many waste management companies rent out wheelie bins, which can work out more cost-effective. Others such as Business Waste provide free wheelie bins with no hire charges for even more affordable use of wheelie bins.
- What waste types do you produce? General waste, paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and dry mixed recycling, as well as waste food, can all be stored in separate wheelie bins. However, they’re not suitable for storing other types of rubbish such as hazardous waste, liquid waste, and clinical waste.
- Have you got storage space? If you own any wheelie bins you’ll need a permanent place for them. This needs to be in a secure location to reduce the chance of theft and damage, and ideally under a roof to prevent rainwater from leaking in and contaminating your waste.
- What size wheelie bins do you need? The size affects the price of wheelie bins to buy. If you need a few 1100 litre wheelie bins then it might be more cost-effective to rent or use a service that provides free bins. You’ll also need to consider storage space.
- Can you afford to buy wheelie bins? Every business should have a waste management plan that includes budgeting to get rid of all rubbish responsibly from your premises. The cost of wheelie bins must be factored into this whether you’re buying, renting, or using a service that provides them for free. Check your budget and if buying wheelie bins stretches it consider a company like Business Waste to save money on your bin deliveries and collections.
How much are wheelie bins
from the council?
Councils have a legal obligation to collect household waste but will only do so if it’s in an appropriate bin that they provide. This is because the bin must fit the mechanical lifting equipment of their waste trucks. If you buy your own domestic bin and it’s the wrong size or type they may not collect your waste.
In many cases, you can buy a wheelie bin from the council in your area. Often you’ll need to do this if your old bin was stolen or damaged, you move into a new home without a bin, or you want an extra bin for your home. Not all councils allow additional household bins though, so check with your local authority first.
The cost of a replacement wheelie bin from the council is normally free, but there’s often an admin and delivery fee. A wheelie bin replacement cost can vary depending on the size and type of bin and your specific local council and their fees. Generally, the cost of a replacement wheelie bin is anywhere from £40 to £50.
Get a free quote
for wheelie bins
At Business Waste we’re proud to provide free wheelie bins to businesses anywhere in the UK across all sectors. There are no rental, hire, or purchase fees to help keep your waste management costs as competitive and affordable as possible. You only pay for the collection, which is the way we believe it should be.
A wide range of wheelie bins are available in various sizes to help you separate your waste types easily and increase the amount of waste you recycle. To get started we can offer a free no obligation quote tailored to your exact needs. This considers the number, sizes, and types of wheelie bins you need, how often you want them collected, and where from.
Businesses and homes build up stacks of documents containing sensitive information that eventually need destroying. It could be old bank statements, invoices, CVs, and anything else with personal data. They must be disposed of responsibly to protect the individuals and businesses whose private information they contain – they can’t be recycled with paper.
Shredding confidential papers is an easy and efficient way to destroy sensitive documents and data. However, not every business and household owns a shredder. You might not have the space, money, or need to use a shredder regularly enough to justify buying one. There are other ways to destroy important documents without a shredder though.
Find out how to get rid of confidential papers without a shredder in your business or at home with this guide.
How to destroy documents
without a shredder
Shredding documents helps protect the information printed on the paper, prevents fraud and identity theft, and ensures businesses uphold their GDPR obligations. Shredding isn’t the only way to destroy documents safely and effectively, but it may impact what happens to the waste created. There are various ways to destroy documents without a shredder, such as:
Pulp personal papers
Soaking paper documents in water for one or two days and mixing it around is an effective way to make them unreadable. This dissolves the paper into a pulp that you can break up by hand. However, you’ll need the space and patience to leave your documents in buckets of water in a secure place.
You can speed up the paper pulping process by adding bleach to the water. Ensure you use a container that can withstand bleach and wear protective gloves. The bleach destroys the colourants within the ink to leave little traces behind. Then drain the water and bleach safely to avoid it affecting the environment.
Leave the pulp to dry in the sun before disposing of it with your general waste, as unfortunately, it won’t be recyclable. If you only used water and no bleach then the wet pup could be used as mulch on a garden and possibly sent for composting.
Burn sensitive documents
Incinerating paper isn’t advised as it releases dangerous fumes that add to air pollution and are toxic for humans and animals to inhale. However, it’s a possible solution to destroy sensitive documents without a shredder when done in a controlled and responsible manner. Using a proper paper incinerator bin is best.
First, check that fires are allowed in the area where you intend to burn your confidential papers. Tear each paper into smaller pieces first to avoid large bits flying away. Feed the paper into the fire a little bit at a time to keep it under control, with water nearby for safety.
Once all the private papers are burned put the fire out carefully. Break up the ashes safely and check no readable bits of information remain. When the ashes are dry you should dispose of them in your general waste bin.
Manually destroy confidential waste
Cutting up confidential documents with scissors or tearing them by hand is a cheap and easy way to destroy important papers without a shredder. You can also use a hole punch to make printed words and numbers unreadable, such as bank account numbers and addresses. Depending on the size, you might be able to recycle this paper too.
However, it’s a time-consuming task depending on how many documents you need to destroy and the size of your team. It’s not always the most secure way to get rid of confidential data either, as if the papers aren’t torn or cut up small enough then potential thieves could stick them back together.
Use professional confidential waste disposal services
Many professional shredding services can destroy confidential documents safely and securely for your business. At Business Waste, we can collect all types and amounts of confidential waste anywhere in the UK. We can then arrange on-site or off-site confidential waste destruction.
This way your sensitive paper documents are shredded and disposed of in an environmentally friendly way that also protects the information they contain. You receive a Certificate of Destruction for added peace of mind.
Paper shredder alternatives
If you want to shred your confidential documents but don’t own a shredder there are various alternatives. Shredding important papers into smaller pieces can make it harder for any information or data from them to be stolen. It’s also much more environmentally friendly than burning paper or using chemicals such as bleach to destroy them.
Consider an alternative to a paper shredder with these methods:
- Scissors – manually shredding paper with scissors is a simple and effective solution. It can take a while and be labour-intensive, depending on how many sheets you need to shred. Speed up the process with shears or multi-blade scissors.
- Tearing – simply tearing up your confidential papers by hand is a cheap and easy way to destroy them. You’ll need to ensure they’re split into incredibly thin pieces so the information can’t be stuck back together though.
- Hole punch – if you’ve got paper documents that only contain a few bits of sensitive information then using a hole punch on these sections is an effective method. This can remove private data and make it hard to read. You can dispose of it separately from the rest of the document for added security.
Domestic confidential waste disposal
Using scissors, tearing, and soaking sensitive paper documents are simple methods of domestic confidential waste disposal. As well as the strategies mentioned above, you can also dispose of household confidential waste in a few other ways, including some alternatives to shredding paper waste. Consider these options for household confidential waste disposal:
- Composting – break down the paper first and slowly introduce small amounts into your compost heap at home. It will degrade and provide carbon to help with the carbon-to-nitrogen balance. However, avoid adding too much at once (which could negatively affect the balance) and don’t compost glossy, laminated, or paper containing high levels of toxic chemicals.
- Censoring – block or black out the sensitive information on your paper documents before disposing of them. Use a thick black or permanent marker or anything else that can’t be scrubbed off to reveal the details it hides. You can then recycle this paper, rather than burning or disposing of it with general waste, but it can be a time-consuming job.
- Shred days – some businesses offer local ‘shred days’ for customers, such as banks and recycling companies. Many of these are free and they’ll accept any paper documents for professional shredding. This destroys the private information, but you might build up lots of confidential documents waiting for the next shred day.
Can you destroy documents
in a washing machine?
You can destroy paper documents in a washing machine. Water turns paper into a pulp and the added spins and force of the machine make the writing unreadable. However, you should put the paper documents in a laundry bag or stocking and tie the top tightly to avoid ending up with a mess.
Once the spin cycle is over just open the bag to check the documents are destroyed and dispose of them with your general waste. You can only destroy regular paper documents in a washing machine, it won’t work for laminated paper or some types of glossy paper.
Arrange confidential waste disposal
For a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to destroy your confidential documents use Business Waste. We can collect shredded sensitive documents or arrange on or offsite shredding. All confidential waste is disposed of securely, responsibly, and in an eco-friendly way.
The government plans to introduce mandatory digital waste tracking across the UK by 2024. It aims to provide a comprehensive way to see what happens to the more than 200 million tonnes of waste the UK produces annually. This should show where and how waste is created, who handles it, what happens to it, and where it ends up.
Currently, there’s no single way of tracking all waste created in the UK. Legislation around waste transport, management and descriptions have been introduced separately over the last few decades. Data about waste is collected by both private contractors and the government across different IT and even paper systems. Mandatory digital waste tracking aims to centralise this.
We’ve answered some key questions about the service to help you understand what mandatory digital waste tracking is, why it’s being introduced, how it could work, and what it might mean for your business.
What did the consultation on mandatory
digital waste tracking find?
The UK, Scottish, and Welsh governments, and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, ran a joint consultation on the introduction of mandatory digital waste tracking from 21 January 2022 to 15 April 2022. Waste policy is a devolved issue but all four agreed to develop a UK-wide waste tracking service.
The consultation received 713 responses. These were mainly from waste producers, waste transportation companies or carriers, waste site operators, local authorities, waste brokers, business representative organisations or trade bodies. Some of the key findings from the consultation were:
- 79% of respondents agreed with the proposed types of waste to be tracked – including controlled waste (hazardous and non-hazardous household, commercial and industrial waste) and extractive waste (waste from quarries).
- 84% of respondents thought destination details for all waste movements should be tracked – and 79% want details of the person who classified waste
- 32% of respondents estimate it’ll take one and three years to transition to real-time recording for movements or transfers of hazardous waste.
- 40% of respondents also think transitioning to real-time recording for movements or transfers of non-hazardous waste will take one to three years.
- 39% of respondents believe waste carriers should enter details 24 hours before moving hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
- Almost 75% agreed with proposed offences and enforcement These include fixed monetary penalties for not registering on the waste tracking service where required and variable monetary penalties for intentionally or recklessly providing incomplete or false information in a digital record.
- Common barriers mentioned for real-time recording included costs, time, client or supplier adoption of the service, access to technology, available resources, training, and setting up or merging existing systems.
Read the full responses to the Introduction of Mandatory Digital Waste Tracking
What waste types will
Under the proposed mandatory digital waste tracking service all waste types will be tracked. This includes hazardous and non-hazardous waste, green waste, extractive waste (from quarries), and all other types of commercial and industrial waste. Therefore, every business will be affected by the new tracking service whatever types and amounts of commercial waste they produce.
When will mandatory digital waste
tracking come into force?
The UK government has been vague about when mandatory digital waste tracking will come into force. Currently, there’s a general target date of 2023 or 2024 to launch the digital waste tracking service – depending on IT development progress and transition requirements of businesses.
Why is digital waste tracking
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Environment Agency set out commitments in the ‘Resources and waste strategy for England’ published in 2018. This is a strategy to minimise waste, promote resource efficiency and move towards a circular economy to preserve material resources.
Mandatory digital waste tracking aims to work towards these commitments and:
- Determine what happens to our waste – to gain a good understanding of whether waste is recycled, recovered, or disposed of and identify actions for improvement.
- Improve sustainability – waste producers and waste managers will have accurate data to see how much waste they produce and how it’s managed, to make informed decisions and changes to enhance their sustainability.
- Centralise, collate, and digitise waste data – current waste data is spread across digital and paper systems and tracking isn’t mandatory. Mandatory digital waste tracking aims to bring all waste information together.
- Save time and effort for waste companies – replacing paper-based tracking and data and moving over to one system should save businesses time and make it much easier to ensure compliance with waste reporting requirements.
- Tackle waste crime – 18% of all waste in 2021 was ‘perceived to be illegally managed at some point’. Digital waste tracking should make waste crime harder (such as fly-tipping, illegal waste exports, and sites).
How will digital waste
The exact details of how the UK government’s mandatory waste tracking service will work are yet to be released. However, based on existing digital waste tracking systems it will involve submitting information about the waste type, quantity, waste carrier, destination, disposal method, and other details. These will likely be submitted for every waste load that leaves your business.
Who will be responsible for entering this tracking information is also unclear currently. As a business that produces waste, it could be down to you, or it may be the responsibility of the waste carrier, broker, or management company that collects your waste. There may also be a cost for digital waste tracking when it is enforced, but no details have been released yet.
What will my business
have to do?
Expect digital records to replace all paper documents you use to track your waste. Once the mandatory digital waste tracking service is operational you’ll likely have to register and possibly pay for the service. To avoid any mistakes and potential penalties it’s important you collate as much information as possible about your waste in advance.
Work with your waste management partners and/or carriers to determine the types and amounts of waste you produce, how often, and where they go. This can provide a good idea of the information you’ll need to use when the tracking service is live. Ensure you know who is responsible for entering the data when mandatory digital waste tracking goes live.
Keep an eye out for further developments about mandatory digital waste tracking and any communication from your current waste provider to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Get help with your
digital waste tracking
At Business Waste, we’re experts in the world of commercial waste management. We’re keeping a keen eye on the progress of mandatory digital waste tracking and are here to help if you’ve got any questions about it. Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online with any queries or a free quote tailored to your waste collection needs.
The vaping market is one of the UK’s largest growing consumer goods sectors, currently valued at around £1 billion. Vaping shops and the many varieties of e-cigarettes they sell are everywhere. However, there are still many unknowns and some growing concerns around vaping as it’s a relatively recent innovation.
These range from health effects to advertising rules and the environmental impact of old vapes. We’re not medical professionals or advertising gurus, but we are waste management experts who can advise on how to dispose of vapes. The materials they’re made from, how they’re made, and what people and businesses do with them can have a significant environmental effect.
Correct vape disposal depends on various factors, including the type, brand, and whether it’s a consumer or business getting rid of an old one. Discover how and where to dispose of vapes safely and in an eco-friendly way with this guide.
Vape disposal facts
Responsible vape disposal is important to protect the environment, reduce waste going to landfill, and avoid contamination risks. Check out these vape disposal facts for an idea of how much waste old vapes create:
- Around 138 million disposable vapes are sold in the UK each year.
- Every week in the UK 3 million disposable vapes are thrown away, and around 5.4 million every month.
- 37% of vapers buy single-use vapes and more than 50% of disposable vapes are thrown away.
- 6 million rechargeable vapes are disposed of in the UK monthly.
- 23% of people recycle vapes in-store when buying a new one, while about 20% recycle vapes at a local household waste recycling centre.
- The number of disposable vapes that end up in landfill each year take up 1.4 million square feet of space – 11 times the size of Trafalgar Square.
- The use of disposable vapes in the UK increased by 600% from November 2021 to November 2022.
- 23 tonnes of lithium go to waste every year when people throw away disposable vapes. It’s enough lithium to power 2,884 electric vehicles.
- The production of disposable vapes in the UK releases 59,650 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.
- Global production of disposable vapes releases about9 million tonnes of CO2 yearly.
- Cigarettes are still worse for the environment than vapes though. Global tobacco uses 600 million trees, 200,000 hectares of land, and 22 billion tonnes of water. It also releases 84 million tonnes of CO2 annually.
Types of vapes
There were some earlier developments but the first type of e-cigarette (or vape) on the market arrived in 2004, according to the National Library of Medicine. Since then, the vaping market has boomed and there are a few different types of vapes available:
- Vape pens – these are common vapes in a cylindrical shape that can be either disposable or reusable depending on the brand.
- Pod vapes – there are two parts to a pod vape (or pod mod), a rechargeable battery and the replaceable and refillable pod.
- Box mods – currently these are the biggest vapes that have an external battery with variable wattage and temperature control, and a refillable tank.
- Disposable vapes – disposable vapes come in many sizes and flavours and once the battery or liquid runs out you throw it away.
Many brands are bringing out new vapes all the time and should include proper disposal instructions with their products. Generally, the best way to dispose of a vape depends on whether it’s a reusable or disposable vape.
How to dispose of a reusable vape
The easiest way to dispose of a single reusable vape is to return it to one of the thousands of shops that accept old electricals for recycling. Many have a legal responsibility to take back very small WEEE, which includes vapes. They’ll ensure your old vape is recycled responsibly to save you time, effort, and money.
Retailers and distributors have a responsibility to take back ‘waste electrical and electronic equipment that is less than 25cm on their longest side’ – such as vapes. This only applies to stores where the electrical and electronic equipment sales area is greater than 400 square metres (including aisle, display, and shelf space).
The likes of Totally Wicked have introduced vape disposal bins in 150 of their stores across the UK. Customers can return any brand of vape bought from any retailer in these bins for free. They’re then stored responsibly before being taken away for recycling.
Another responsible way to dispose of a reusable vape is to dismantle it and recycle its parts separately.
How to recycle vapes
Vape recycling is possible for reusable and refillable devices. The most sustainable option is to keep refilling and reusing the same vape where possible. However, if the vape becomes badly damaged, the battery completely dies, or you need to upgrade then recycling the vape is your next best option.
You can recycle vapes by dismantling them and separating their parts to recycle them alongside the same materials:
- Battery recycling – if your vape has a removable battery you can separate it and take it to any battery recycling point, found in many supermarkets. Vapes with built-in batteries can be taken to most local household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) for recycling with WEEE waste or returned to many vape retailers.
- Pods and tanks – remove the pod, tank, or cartridge from your vape and thoroughly wash it out with water to remove all the excess e-liquid residue. Any glass tanks or pods can then be recycled with glass recycling. If it’s made of plastic, check the packaging and bottom of the cartridge or pod for a recycling symbol and number. Check if you can recycle this type of plastic in your household recycling bin or if you should take it to your nearby HWRC.
- Coils – most coils are removable from the pod or tank, but if not please check the recycling instructions for your specific vape. Remove the coil and separate the cotton or wicking, then wash off any e-liquid residue. The remaining coil can be recycled with metals and in some household recycling bins.
- E-liquid bottles – all e-liquid bottles are made from a type of plastic. Wash out the bottle and check whether you can recycle the type of plastic in your household recycling bin. If not, see whether the plastic type is accepted at your local HWRC.
- Vape packaging – if you’ve still got the original packaging from your vape you can normally throw this away in your household recycling bin if it’s paper and card.
How to dispose of disposable vapes
Disposable vapes are single-use, so once they’re empty they need to be disposed of responsibly. You should never throw away a disposable vape with your general waste. Any vapes in landfill can leach battery acid, nicotine, and chemicals from the plastic into the environment. Plus, the lithium-ion batteries pose a fire risk.
The safest and easiest way to dispose of a disposable vape is to put it in a vape disposal bin or return it to a retailer. Many electrical and electronic shops accept used disposable vapes and will ensure they’re recycled. You can also dispose of disposable vapes at most HWRCs with other WEEE items.
If you can easily remove the battery then you could separate it and take it to a local battery recycling point (found in many supermarkets). However, the way disposable vapes are made means it’s difficult to separate the battery and materials in many single-use vapes. Disposing of them through the proper channels is advised.
What is in a disposable vape?
Disposable vapes contain the same components and materials as reusable vapes. They often have a smaller tank and battery, a cheaper plastic exterior, and parts that aren’t normally removable. What’s in a disposable vape is a:
- Plastic exterior
- Lithium-ion battery
- Small tank to store the e-liquid
- Cotton wick
- Metal coil
Can you recycle disposable vapes?
You can recycle disposable vapes. Place them in a vape disposal bin, return them to an electrical retailer, or recycle them with WEEE items at your local HWRC. They’ll be transported to a recycling facility where the vapes are dismantled and separated into their components.
These components are checked, sorted, cleaned, and recycled alongside the same materials. The only element of a vape that can’t be recycled is the cotton wick, as it will be heavily contaminated and may even be burnt. Learn more about how each part of a vape is recycled based on its material in our comprehensive guides:
Where to dispose of disposable vapes
There are three main places where you can dispose of disposable vapes responsibly:
- Vape disposal bins – many vape shops now have specific vape disposal bins to collect used disposable vapes, which are then recycled.
- Electrical and electronic retailers – electrical stores larger than 400 square metres must take back small WEEE items (including most vapes) for free, wherever they were bought. These are then recycled properly.
- Household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) – check your local HWRC as most accept disposable vapes in their WEEE bins, which should ensure they’re recycled rather than going to landfill.
How can businesses dispose of old vapes?
Businesses must arrange commercial waste collection of any old vapes they produce. This could be through customer returns, staff getting rid of old vapes, or any other means. Removal by licensed waste carriers and recycling is vital and a legal requirement. The easiest way to do this is with WEEE bins and collections.
At Business Waste, we can provide free WEEE bins in a range of sizes to store old vapes safely on your premises. Then arrange collection on a schedule that suits you – either a one-off removal or regular collections. Licensed waste carriers remove your WEEE bins and ensure it’s recycled and disposed of responsibly.
Festival waste has been a big challenge for decades. Photos of abandoned tents, trampled food waste, empty beer cans and plastic bottles littering muddy fields follow each instance of Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds festivals, and Parklife every year. The amount of waste created isn’t the worrying thing though – it’s what happens to it.
A shocking 68% of waste ends up in landfill that’s produced at UK music festivals annually. Effective festival waste management could significantly reduce that and ensure as much as possible is recycled and reused. And it’s not just the big festivals, the likes of local beer festivals, summer fairs, and street carnivals all need strong waste management plans.
Understand how to overcome the challenges of festival waste whatever size, type, and length of festival you’re holding. Use the following top tips for successful, smooth, and stress-free festival waste management.
Festival waste statistics and facts
We’ve pulled together some important festival waste statistics to provide a good idea of how much waste festivals produce and the amount that’s disposed of improperly:
- UK music festivals produce 23,500 tonnes of waste every year – equivalent to the weight of 250 blue whales.
- It’s sadly estimated that 68% of waste created at UK festivals ends up in landfill, even though much of it could be recycled.
- 400 tonnes of food waste created at festivals end up in landfill, according to The Nationwide Caterers Association.
- Waste created by individuals every day at festivals has fallen – from 2.8kg per person per day in 2014 to 2kg in 2019, according to The Show Must Go On report.
- 250,000 tents are left behind at UK music festivals every year, according to The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).
- Around 90% of tents left behind at festivals end up in a landfill site or an incinerator.
- Recycling rates for festival attendees are only around 30%, according to research by A Greener Festival.
- Glastonbury estimates that the festival generates around 2,000 tonnes of waste every year the festival is held.
- Major US festivals such as Coachella create about 100 tonnes of solid waste each day.
- Oya festival in Norway is one of the greenest – food and drink are served in 100% compostable packaging and more than 60% of waste generated is reused in new products.
Avoid adding to these statistics by using the following tips to manage your festival waste effectively.
Create an effective
festival waste management plan
Putting together a festival waste management plan is essential before running any event. It means you can assess your festival, identify potential problem areas, and take a proactive approach to minimise waste-related risks. This vital document should cover everything you need to ensure smooth waste management.
A good place to start is to ask existing and successful festivals of a similar size, type, and location if you can see their waste management plan. You can use this as a blueprint and at the same time ask if they’ve got any advice or useful information about managing waste from their experiences.
Otherwise, you can create your festival waste management plan from scratch. Use information such as ticket sales, the maximum capacity, the number of vendors and staff, details of the site, and any data from previous events to inform your plan where possible.
Your festival waste management plan should cover:
- Who will remove your festival waste – licensed waste carriers must remove all waste produced at any festival, as it’s a type of commercial waste. Most festivals use third-party professional waste management companies.
- Bin delivery and removal times – the frequency and timings of festival waste removal are vital to avoid excess waste onsite. You also need to ensure they’ll arrive with plenty of time to place them across the site.
- Locations of each bin – include a map in your festival waste management plan that details where every bin will be placed. This helps determine how many bins you need and build an effective plan.
- Types of bins and waste containers – work out the best types, sizes, and number of bins you’ll need onsite. This should include bins for festival attendees, as well as for vendors and other backstage operations.
- Waste types – information about the individual waste types you predict the festival will create and the split between them. It should highlight recycling opportunities and inform the types and sizes of bins you’ll need.
- How will waste be removed – determine who is responsible for moving any bins to the pickup point. Include details of access for waste removal trucks and a map of accessible routes, gates, and any security requirements.
- Vendors’ waste – will any food vendors, merchandise stalls, and others arrange the removal of their own waste? If so include details of their responsibilities.
- Budgeting and costs – outline your budget for the festival and how much is allocated to waste management. Include estimated costs to help ensure your festival is feasible and waste removal costs won’t mean you go over budget.
- Backup and risks – identify any risks and hazards that could affect your waste management plan running smoothly. Have backup options in case of an emergency (such as overfull bins or missed collections).
- Festival statistics – include the number of attendees, capacity, size of the festival site, and any other important information.
of festival waste
Outline the types of waste you expect your festival will create to ensure the correct bins and containers are in place to separate them at the point of production. Identify those that are recyclable to help set up recycling stations across your festival. Depending on the expected volume you might use dry mixed recycling bins to combine recyclable rubbish.
Common types of festival waste you should provide individual bins for to separate and reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill include:
- Festival food waste – vendors and consumers create food waste that needs storing separately so it’s sent for anaerobic digestion and to generate energy.
- Metal waste – aluminium drinks cans and empty food tins can be recycled so should be stored in separate bins or dry mixed recycling.
- Paper and cardboard – food packaging, drinks carriers, and receipts make up lots of paper and cardboard waste at festivals that should be recyclable.
- Glass waste – many festivals ban glass, but food vendors may still have empty glass jars for ingredients and drinks, which needs storing separately for recycling.
- Plastic recycling – drinks bottles, plastic cups, and food packaging should be recycled where possible. This can be in individual plastic bins or with dry mixed recycling.
- General waste – food scraps and non-recyclable rubbish like used tissues and wipes need to be disposed of in general waste bins.
- Sanitary waste – toilets and any bathroom facilities must have sanitary bins in place to safely store various types of offensive waste. This helps protect human health and the environment.
Having a range of recycling bins onsite is the first step to reducing your festival waste. These need clearly labelling with the specific recyclable rubbish they’re designed to hold. Use different coloured bins for each waste type to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and encourage segregation.
Place clear signs around the site directing towards recycling bins and add the recycling station to any site maps. For all vendors, you should also have a recycling policy in place outlining their responsibilities. Provide enough recycling bins for each vendor and stall so they also recycle as much as possible.
The best way to encourage recycling at a festival is to lead by example too. Serve drinks in recyclable or compostable plastic or paper cups, use recyclable or biodegradable cutlery and plates, and eliminate all single-use plastic. Requiring vendors to follow such guidelines can significantly increase recycling rates across your festival.
Choose convenient bin locations
Make recycling and waste disposal as easy as possible for festival goers and vendors to manage rubbish effectively. Placing food waste, general waste, and mixed recycling bins close to food and drinks stalls makes sense, as it’s where plenty of rubbish is produced. Festivals with camping facilities should also ensure bins are near enough tents (but not too close!).
Any litter can easily be picked up by the wind and drift offsite, polluting local water, ground, and air – as well as affecting wildlife. The more bins you have, and the less work/walking required for people to dispose of rubbish, the reduced risk of waste negatively impacting the environment.
Also, consider access when choosing bin locations. They need to be placed somewhere that waste removal trucks can reach easily or with access to a clear path or road, so any wheelie bins can be moved down to the pickup point conveniently.
Train and prepare
a waste team
Unfortunately, there’ll always be some people who don’t use the right bins (or any bins at all!), no matter how hard you try to control consumer waste at your festival. This can result in empty plastic cups, food packaging, paper plates, and more being littered across the site.
Assemble a team dedicated to festival waste management to combat those rogue festivalgoers. Include litter pickers to reduce the amount of rubbish that could fly off the site and negatively impact the local environment. Also, have professionals overseeing the wider waste operations – ensuring bins don’t overflow, access routes are clear, and collections happen on time.
Most festivals either pay their dedicated waste management team or enlist the help of volunteers by providing free tickets. Have a rota to ensure staff aren’t overworked and have enough time to enjoy the festivities. The best option depends on the size, type, popularity, and budget for your festival.
Store festival waste securely
Secure bins, bags, and containers are essential to prevent waste from blowing out in the wind, getting wet from the rain, or experiencing any other damage. You also need to store all festival waste in sensible locations before collection. Placing them under a canopy and on solid ground can reduce any adverse weather effects.
You’ll need to place wheelie bins onsite for festivalgoers to use. However, it could be safer and more cost-efficient to have larger bins backstage that these are emptied into regularly. This reduces the amount of waste attendees are exposed to, means you can arrange less frequent collections, and the bins are likely to be opened and exposed less often.
Common bins to secure festival waste securely include:
- Wheelie bins – two- and four-wheel bins are used to separate recyclables and waste types. Each type has lids (some are lockable) and can be easily wheeled around to empty into larger bins or move to collection points.
- Front and rear-end loaders – these are large bins that can hold up to 160 bags of waste. They’re static, so can’t be moved, but if you have space and access are a good option to combine waste in one place to reduce collections.
- Commercial waste bags – another easy way to separate festival waste and recycling types is with commercial waste bags. These may be used inside your festival bins or on their own for everything from general waste to mixed recycling.
Arrange festival waste removal
at a convenient time
Ensure you book delivery of all bins, bags, and containers well in advance of your festival, so they can be placed on site in good time. Waste collections should be arranged with as little disruption to festival goers and vendors as possible. If you’re running a one-day event, it makes sense to do this the following day.
For multi-day festivals, you might need waste collection across the weekend. Arrange these at the quietest times when access routes should be clear. This avoids delaying the removal of your festival waste, reduces the risk of accidents, and empties bins before they become too full (which can be a health hazard and result in overweight charges).
Use expert help for your
festival waste management
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how to manage your festival waste effectively. For further expert help and advice about festival waste management – and a free no obligation quote – speak to one of our team. Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online today or find out more about event waste management.
Easter egg packaging recycling is essential to ensure no trace is left behind from the 80 million Easter eggs we buy in the UK every year. Most of us eat all the chocolate (often faster than we’d like to admit). But what we do with the card, plastic, and foil packaging affects the environment.
Chocolatiers and brands focus on bright and colourful Easter egg packaging to attract the attention of both young and older chocoholics. And it works. Who doesn’t associate that purple, red, and yellow splash with a Cadbury Crème Egg? But how easy is recycling Easter egg packaging once you’ve scoffed the chocolate?
Eggsplore some facts about Easter waste, ways to recycle Easter egg packaging, and how to reduce the amount of Easter packaging your household or business uses in this guide.
Easter egg waste facts
If all the Easter eggs bought in the UK were laid out in a line it would stretch the entire length of The Great Wall of China. But what about all those Easter eggs that go to waste? There are a lot fewer but they could still cover Hadrian’s Wall two and a half times.
Then there’s all the packaging waste they produce. Surprise yourself with these less than eggcellent facts about Easter egg waste:
- Between 80 and 90 million Easter eggs are sold in the UK every year.
- Despite being delicious, about 8 million Easter eggs are uneaten and discarded as food waste.
- A quarter of an Easter egg’s weight is the packaging – normally made from cardboard, plastic, and foil.
- Easter egg packaging creates more than 8,000 tonnes of waste in the UK each year.
- Easter eggs generate around 4,300 tonnes of card waste from the boxes and other packaging.
- Around 160 tonnes of foil packaging are used in Easter eggs to protect the chocolate.
- UK consumers spend more than £400 million on Easter eggs annually.
- In terms of volume, chocolate eggs only take up 38% of an Easter egg box – the rest is packaging and space.
- Packaging of the average 200g Easter egg uses 54 grams of card and 2 grams of foil.
- Buying Easter Eggs in the UK accounts for 10% of the nation’s spending on chocolate annually.
How to recycle
Easter egg packaging
The good news is that today, most Easter egg packaging is recyclable. Only the plastic windows and some wrappers for sweets, chocolates, and treats that certain Easter eggs include are trickier or impossible to recycle. Most packaging can be recycled in your household or workplace recycling bins but check with your local authority or waste service first.
Separate the individual materials and follow these tips for recycling Easter egg packaging:
- Easter egg foil recycling – clean off any chocolate to ensure it’s clean and to avoid contamination. Scrunch it into a ball the size of your fist, which reduces the risk of small bits falling through or getting caught in the recycling machines. Then place it in your recycling bin.
- Cardboard – take out any plastic windows first and check if there’s any glitter or plastic attached. If so, these can’t be recycled and should go in your general waste bin. Most cardboard Easter egg packaging is recyclable though, just flatten it and place it in your recycling bin or a cardboard or paper bin at work.
- Plastic shell – check the type of plastic the shell is made from (the number in a recycling triangle). Most are PET1, which is the same plastic type used for plastic drinks bottles. Nearly all local authorities in the UK accept these in their household recycling bins, while you can also recycle them in commercial plastic recycling bins.
- Plastic wrappers – look at the back of the wrapper and it should say whether the wrapper is recyclable and/or have a plastic type number. Check whether your local authority accepts these in domestic recycling bins. If not, you can take them to some supermarkets that collect plastic bags and film, as well as a TerraCycle point. Otherwise, they should be disposed of with general waste.
Where can you recycle
Easter egg packaging?
Most Easter egg packaging recycling happens at home. Wherever you live in the UK your local authority or council should provide at least one free recycling bin or box. You can recycle clean and dry cardboard, paper, and foil from Easter egg packaging in these mixed recycling bins.
In 99% of cases, you can also recycle clean and dry plastic Easter egg shells in your household recycling bin. However, check the plastic type first and that it’s recycled by the authority that collects your household recycling bins. If not, you can take some plastic types to supermarkets that have drop-off points for recycling – including plastic bags and wrappers.
Businesses can recycle Easter egg packaging in separate cardboard and plastic waste bins. A convenient choice for many companies is to use dry mixed recycling bins, where you can recycle a combination of materials – including cardboard, paper, plastic, and metals – which covers most Easter egg packaging.
How is Easter egg
Once you’ve separated the Easter egg packaging waste, put it in the right recycling bins, and they’ve been collected, what happens next? The recycling process is different for each type of material. Generally, Easter egg packaging is recycled in these ways:
- Foil recycling – when recycling Easter egg foil it’s sorted and recycled alongside other aluminium foil, like foil trays and aluminium drinks cans. It’s all cleaned, compressed, and melted down into raw aluminium. This is used to create new foil sheets, trays, cans, and other products.
- Cardboard recycling – waste cardboard is separated into boxboard and corrugated cardboard and different grades. It’s shredded, mixed with water to form a slurry, and combined with pulp made from wood chips. Finally, it’s filtered, chemically processed, cleaned, dried, and turned into new cardboard sheets.
- Plastic recycling – plastics are sorted and cleaned first. Then it’s shredded into flakes and melted into pellets that are used to create new plastic products. Some recycling uses waste plastic to produce petroleum.
How to reduce
Easter egg waste
The easiest (and tastiest) way to reduce Easter egg waste is to eat all the chocolate and recycle every bit of packaging. Alternatively, you could just avoid buying Easter eggs to prevent producing any waste. But where’s the fun in that? These are a few things you can do to reduce Easter egg waste:
- Buy zero-waste Easter eggs – a zero-waste Easter egg ensures all packaging is recyclable or biodegradable. Many plastic-free Easter eggs are available in UK supermarkets, and plenty are made from recycled materials. Look for these and ones with limited packaging when shopping.
- Make your own Easter eggs – avoid all the plastic and foil packaging by making your own Easter eggs. You’ll need to buy ingredients that come in packaging but look for chocolate bars in recyclable paper and foil packaging. It’s a great way to reuse any plastic Easter egg shells from previous years.
- Recycle packaging waste – simply separate and recycle all Easter egg packaging waste, including the card, foil, and plastic. Make an effort to take any plastics you can’t recycle at home to a supermarket or other collection point to recycle them to eliminate waste.
Looking for more ways to have a sustainable spring celebration? Check out our detailed guide and learn how to have a low waste Easter.
Not everything about Easter is eggcellent. Despite that classic pun being used in every marketing campaign for the holiday, the celebrations create lots of eggstra waste (ok, the puns stop here). We Brits spend around £300 million on chocolate at Easter every year but produce tonnes more food, packaging, and other waste celebrating.
And it’s not just our additional chocolate consumption that creates more waste at this time of year. There’s extra food for an Easter feast, decorations, cards, and wrapping paper for gifts. Lots of this rubbish is recyclable, yet plenty still makes its way to landfill. With a few tips, we can change this and keep Easter the sign of new life it’s supposed to be.
Crack on with these fascinating facts about the holiday and ideas for a low and zero waste Easter at home and in your business.
Easter waste facts
Around 80 million Easter eggs are bought in the UK every year. If they were all eaten and the packaging recycled then there wouldn’t be a problem, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. And it’s not just chocolate eggs that lead to excess waste in spring. Some further facts about Easter waste are:
- 80 million Easter eggs are sold but around 8 million Easter eggs are thrown away every year.
- About 25% of an Easter egg’s weight is just the packaging, which ends up as waste.
- Easter egg packaging creates more than 8,000 tonnes of waste each year in the UK, most of which is recyclable.
- In total, Easter creates more than 9,600 tonnes of cardboard waste (including Easter cards, egg boxes, and other packaging).
- Around 10 million Easter cards are sent in the UK, making more card waste.
- More than 4,000 tonnes of plastic waste are produced at Easter (mostly from packaging).
- Over 7,500 miles of wrapping paper are used for Easter gifts.
- The UK creates almost 8,500 tonnes of food waste at Easter in total, which includes:
- 8 million hot cross buns wasted
- 5 million slices of leftover roast meat
- 19 million leftover potatoes
- 20 million leftover portions of vegetables
Zero waste Easter ideas
There are plenty of fun ways you can celebrate Easter without creating mountains of rubbish. All you need is a little bit of planning and effort to have a zero waste Easter at home or in the workplace. Get started with these low and zero waste Easter ideas.
Plan a zero waste
Easter egg hunt
Many Easter eggs come with lots of packaging that’s not always 100% recyclable – especially if it gets damaged being hidden outside. Hiding chocolate eggs with no protection isn’t a hygienic or safe idea inside or outside though. There are plenty of other ways you can plan and eggsecute (last one) a fun zero waste Easter egg hunt:
- Hide wooden eggs in the garden. Kids can find these and then get rewarded with a chocolate egg. They’re better for the environment than plastic eggs and can be reused next year or for other activities, such as painting.
- Make your own paper or card eggs if you’re having an indoor hunt. It’s a great way to use up any old paper and card you’ve got lying around and it can be recycled.
- Buy chocolate Easter eggs in foil without the additional plastic casing. This protects the chocolate when placed outside and the foil is recyclable.
- Decorate small stones with egg designs that you can reuse or wash off after the hunt.
- Give kids a map and clues to follow, rather than searching for eggs, with a big Easter-themed prize at the end.
Make your own
An easy way to avoid all the packaging waste that comes with Easter food is to bake your own sweet treats. There are many recipes out there for homemade hot cross buns, Easter eggs, chocolate Easter nests, simnel cake, and more. Store them in reusable containers or recyclable foil – more sustainable than plastic wrapping.
Making your own Easter eggs is easier than you may have thought too. Choose a chocolate bar in paper, recyclable, or minimal packaging and use an old plastic mould or casing from an Easter egg from last year. Melt it into the mould, then when it’s solid decorate it with bits of chocolate, icing, and other treats.
Homemade Easter cards add a special touch and are a great way to use up any paper, card, and other materials you already have at home. If you’ve kept cards from last Easter you could cut them up and design a new card using these pictures.
You can still buy Easter cards, just make sure they’re made from recycled paper or card and don’t have any glitter or plastic bits that prevent them from being recycled. Alternatively, just send an email or social media message to celebrate Easter, as sending Easter cards isn’t as big as Christmas or birthday cards.
Lots of businesses and homes use plastic grass to add a spring touch. However, plastic grass is rarely recyclable and can take around 500 years to degrade. If it goes to landfill the chemicals the plastic contains can leach into the ground and contaminate nearby ground and water.
There are many sustainable and recyclable Easter decorations to consider instead. Flowers, plants, and branches make a great centrepiece and can be arranged into wreaths for natural decorations. Plenty of paper and card decorations are fully recyclable or can be kept for reuse next year.
You can also make your own Easter decorations from stuff at home. Use old toilet or kitchen rolls and attach little card ears and feet to create rabbits. Traditional hand-painted eggs are another great way to use up eggshells. Paint them or use felt tip pens, and add glitter, ribbons, and any other decorations.
Prepare a low waste
One of the main reasons for food waste at Easter is that we buy too much. It’s easy to get carried away planning a big roast or feast, but portion control is important for a zero waste Easter meal. Plan for the number of people you’re cooking for over Easter and how to store any leftovers.
There are lots of recipes to make the most of leftovers, such as hot cross bun crumble, Easter tray bake, and Easter tiffin to use up eggs before they go off. Savoury items like meat and veg can be added into casseroles, stews, and soups, while you can use bones to make stock. Consider freezing some food items too.
Lots of waste food can be composted if it’s no longer edible. This includes any fruit and veg peelings, eggshells, bread, meats, and dairy products. Learn more in our guide to composting
Easter recycling tips
Creating waste is as inevitable as feeling a bit sick after scoffing ten crème eggs at Easter. Rather than throwing away all rubbish you produce across the spring celebrations, there are many more sustainable options. Use these Easter recycling tips to avoid adding to landfill levels and have a more positive environmental impact:
- Remove food from recycling – reduce the risk of contamination by clearing off all bits of chocolate, sugar, and other foodstuffs from any Easter packaging.
- Check Easter egg packaging – you can recycle cardboard, paper, and foil that’s clean and dry from Easter egg packaging at home. However, check the symbol and number in the plastic shell and whether it’s recycled by your local authority.
- Take plastic wrappers to collection points – check if any plastic wrappers for packs of chocolate eggs and Easter sweets can be recycled in your household bins. If not, find a local supermarket with a collection box for plastic film or take them to a TerraCycle recycling point.
- Separate your recycling – make Easter recycling at work easy by ensuring you have individual bins for cardboard, paper, and plastics. Or consider a dry mixed recycling bin to combine many materials that makeup Easter packaging.
- Find ways to reuse materials – cut out designs from Easter cards and wrapping for arts and crafts activities, save decorations to use next year, and reuse any big boxes for storage. Consider any other ways to reuse such materials to reduce waste.
Looking for more Easter recycling tips?
Shrove Tuesday – commonly known as Pancake Day, Pancake Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday – should be one of the most celebrated days for reducing food waste. It’s observed by Christians around the world as the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent – 40 days when many Christians fast (or give up a luxury food or drink item).
The idea of pancakes comes from the tradition of using up rich and luxurious foods (mainly eggs, milk, and sugar) before the fast starts. While the religious ties may have lessened in the UK, slapping together sweet and savoury pancakes on this Tuesday is as strong as ever. However, the practice of reducing food waste has also fallen off, with the day creating more waste food in some cases.
Don’t let your day go as flat as those first pancakes by adding to the UK’s already terrifying food waste figures. Discover how to reduce food waste in your home or business when flipping those pancakes this Shrove Tuesday.
Pancake Day waste stats
Somewhere around 117 million pancakes are eaten in the UK on Shrove Tuesday every year. However, plenty end up flipped onto the floor or the leftover mixture is thrown away. Get a batter idea about how much waste Pancake Day creates with these food waste facts and figures:
- More than 25 million pancakes are wasted in the UK – as they’re burned, undercooked, or flipped onto the floor.
- 52 million eggs are cracked to create pancakes in the UK on Shrove Tuesday about 22 million more than on any other day.
- A third of Brits believe the first pancake made is the worst.
- An average of five pancakes are made in each household, but almost one of these is a failure and wasted.
- Brits eat an average of two pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.
- One in five people make too much pancake batter.
- 38% of people throw failed pancakes in the bin – although 29% still eat them and 11% feed them to a pet.
- One in three people buy readymade pancake mix, rather than making batter from scratch.
- Around four million extra pancakes could be made from all the eggs and milk thrown out in the UK every year.
Ways to eliminate
Pancakes aim to reduce food waste by using up those ingredients at the back of your store cupboard. Yet many of us end up doing the opposite, whether it’s having too much batter and pancakes left over or throwing away excess ingredients. With a bit of planning and a few simple actions, you can easily reduce your waste this Pancake Day.
Plan your pancakes
Follow a tried and tested pancake recipe so you’ve got a good idea of how many you’ll make. Portion control is important to avoid excess batter and pancakes, so consider how many you’ll all likely eat before you begin. Measuring jugs, scales, and frying pans are your friend here.
Planning your portions also helps estimate how many ingredients you need to save money by avoiding overbuying items. Check your cupboards before you go shopping as you might already have most of the things you need to make pancakes. Flour and sugar especially last for ages and are used in many other recipes. It’s a great way to use up ingredients and reduce food waste.
If you do need to buy fresh ingredients, consider shopping at a zero-waste store. This can reduce the amount of packaging waste created when preparing pancakes.
Use food waste sustainably
After making and devouring a plateful of pancakes you’ll still end up with some food waste. Many ingredients such as flour and sugar last for a long time when stored properly. Put your flour in an airtight container in your pantry, or even in the fridge or freezer to further prolong its lifespan.
Even leftover fresh ingredients like butter last for a while in the fridge or at room temperature. And there are plenty of ways you can use it up, from spreading it on toast and frying to baking all sorts of cakes. There are various sustainable ways to get rid of pancake ingredients, rather than throwing them in the bin:
- Eggshells – you’ll end up with lots of eggshells, but the good news is you can crush them up and compost them. Or scatter crushed eggshells around plants in your garden to deter slugs and snails from eating them.
- Lemon skins – you can compost a few lemon skins but not too many, otherwise, your compost pile could become overly acidic. Other options include grating the zest when baking, creating candied lemon peel, or drying it out to form homemade potpourri.
- Bananas – sliced bananas are a poplar pancake topping but any leftovers can become overripe quickly. Baking banana bread or popping them in a smoothie is a tasty way to use them up. Adding to compost is a last resort.
- Milk – if you’ve got too much milk you can’t use before its expiration date consider freezing it. Should you have passed that point you can still use sour milk in scrambled eggs, milkshakes, and baking without impacting the taste.
Recycle pancake packaging
Pancake Day throws up more than just food waste. There’s all the packaging for your ingredients to deal with as well. Check the labels first but thankfully most packaging should be recyclable, which is a more sustainable option than throwing them away with your general waste. Recycle different packaging materials in the following ways:
- Glass recycling – glass bottles and jars for milk, honey, and jam should be rinsed out and recycled at your local bottle bank. Businesses can arrange glass waste collection.
- Plastic recycling – plastic milk bottles, margarine tubs, and pots should be washed out and dried then put in your household recycling bin. Check the plastic number and if your local authority accepts the type in your domestic recycling if you’re unsure.
- Paper recycling – flour and sugar bags are often made of paper, which can be recycled with your household recycling. Try to remove as much flour or sugar as possible but ensure the packets stay dry.
What to do with
No matter how carefully you plan your pancakes, things change, and you might end up with more than you can stomach. Don’t throw them away in your general waste bin or with food waste though, as there’s plenty of life left in any uneaten pancakes:
- Freeze leftover pancakes. Place a baking sheet between each one and layer them up in the freezer. When you feel peckish for a pancake simply take out as many as you fancy and warm them up in the microwave.
- Freeze pancake batter. Put it into a container or bag and pop it in the freezer, then place it in the fridge overnight to defrost when you’re ready to make more.
- Make Yorkshire puddings. If you’ve got any pancake batter left over you can put it in the fridge for the next day to whip up some Yorkshire puddings, as it’s basically the same recipe just a different shape.
- Get baking with leftover toppings. Lemon juice, chocolate spread, honey, and sugar are all the main ingredients for all sorts of sweet treats. Find a tasty cake, cookie, or dessert recipe you can use them up in, or just add into some natural yoghurt for a simple option.
How long are leftover
pancakes good for?
Leftover pancakes are good for up to one week when kept in the fridge. When you have a larger amount left over you can freeze them for up to three months. Wrap them up tightly in a plastic bag with baking sheets separating each one or in an airtight container.
Love is in the air, but sadly so is plenty of pollution. Mother Earth is always left unimpressed at this time of year due to the amount of Valentine’s Day waste we create. Empty chocolate boxes, deflated balloons, and novelty plastic gifts rotting in landfill all add to carbon emissions and pollution levels.
But there’s no need to be a hopeless romantic. Show your passion for the planet and your other half with a low or zero-waste Valentine’s this year. There are plenty of little things we can all do to cut down on how much rubbish we produce showering each other with love.
Make your Valentine’s Day as green as your true love’s rival admirers with these facts and tips for a low-waste-loving celebration.
How much waste is produced
on Valentine’s Day?
Around 40 million people in the UK celebrate Valentine’s Day and spend somewhere in the region of £1.3 billion on the holiday every year. Showering each other with gifts, meals, and more means that on February 14th an extra nine million kilograms of CO2 are produced due to the waste it creates.
Valentine’s Day is the second-biggest holiday for giving out cards after Christmas. 25 million Valentine’s cards are sent each year in the UK. Many of these are recyclable but the use of glitter and improper disposal means plenty end up in landfill sites.
It’s not just the UK producing unaffectionate figures about how much Valentine’s Day waste we create. In the USA, 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold for Valentine’s every year – 26 million kilograms of chocolate that probably aren’t all eaten. And 250 million stems of flowers are sold around the world every Valentine’s Day with many ending up in landfill sites.
How to have a
low-waste Valentine’s Day
The easiest way to have a low-waste Valentine’s Day is to simply not celebrate it. Sack off the plastic presents, packaged chocolates, and wilting roses. Save on the fuel and food waste that going out for a meal could create. And prepare to face the wrath of your better half.
Skipping Valentine’s Day is only possible when you’re both truly on board with it. A safer and greener option is to have a low-waste Valentine’s Day, which you can do with these ideas:
- Cook at home – it’s cheaper, saves on fuel, and gives you more control over food waste. Eat up any leftovers the next day and use any by-products from preparation in other dishes. Plus, it ensures you both get a meal you enjoy and shows your thoughtful side.
- Ditch the gifts – loads of valentine’s gifts are gimmicky, made from cheap plastic, and get thrown out a few weeks later. Why not make a pact to not buy gifts this year (a serious pact)? Use the money on an experience you’ll both enjoy instead.
- Pick potted plants – bouquets of cut roses and other flowers only last a week or so. Then there’s the plastic wrapping that’s normally impossible or difficult to recycle. Instead, buy a potted plant (ideally UK grown too) for the home or garden, which will last much longer. Tulips and hydrangeas are good as they bloom in spring.
- Dim the lights – an easy way to both save electricity and form a warm and romantic atmosphere.
- Make your own card – many Valentine’s Day cards are sustainable but those with glitter and plastic as part of their design aren’t recyclable. Craft your own using card and photos you’ve got lying around the house already for an eco-friendlier option.
- Avoid wrapping paper – plenty of romantic gifts come ready wrapped but unless it’s 100% paper it’s often not recyclable. Place presents in a reusable bag or use paper that’s recyclable to avoid adding more waste to landfill.
A zero-waste Valentine’s Day gift will keep you sweet with your loved one and the planet. Too many presents for February 14th contain plastic or a mix of materials that make them tricky, expensive, and sometimes impossible to recycle. Take the classic Valentine’s teddy bear – it can be donated and reused, but not recycled.
Avoid the chance of creating excess waste to further entrench yourself in someone’s good books with inspiration for zero waste Valentine’s Day gifts from these ideas:
- Baked goods – steer clear of all the packaging waste boxes of chocolate create by making your own. It could be something simple like strawberries dipped in chocolate to more extravagant homemade chocolate truffles, biscuits, or tiramisu.
- Homemade candles – use some soy wax, a wick, and an old glass jar to make your own waste-free candles. It’s a great way to reuse old containers such as jam jars and metal cans.
- Zero waste dates – rather than something physical, why not book an experience? Book a sustainable trip somewhere or simply transform your living room into a cinema or other themed space for the evening.
- Second-hand gifts – get thrifty scouring charity shops for waste-free gifts. Even if you find something that’s not quite perfect, think about ways to upcycle it and add your own unique touch.
- Seeds – good things come in small packages, and a little bag of seeds provides a loving gift that lasts (as long as your Valentine has some green fingers). Introduce new life rather than give a bunch of cut roses already starting to die.
Ways to recycle and dispose of
Valentine’s gifts sustainably
“Roses are red, Violets are blue, Compost old flowers, And save the planet too.” It might not be as romantic as the original rhyme, but it’s some good advice to cut down on your Valentine’s Day waste. You’ve no control over what gifts you might receive from your secret admirer(s), but you can control how you get rid of them.
Recycle and dispose of valentine’s Day gifts sustainably with these actions:
- Compost flowers – never throw old flowers in with your general waste. They’re organic waste and will decompose, creating good-quality compost to use in your garden in the future.
- Recycle cards – nobody keeps their Valentine’s cards up all year. Remove any glitter, plastic, and other materials then dispose of them with your dry mixed recycling at home or work.
- Glass recycling – clean out old candle holders, perfume bottles, wine and beer bottles and take them to your local bottle bank to recycle.
- Return electronic presents – if you received any loving gifts that use batteries, whatever they may be, you can return electronic items at the end of their life to most manufacturers or electronic retailers. They should accept your WEEE waste and arrange for it to be recycled.
- Donate unwanted gifts – things not work out? Teddy bears and plastic romantic gifts from your ex might not be recyclable but give them a clean and donate them at your local charity shop so someone else can find a loving home for them.
How does Valentine’s Day
affect the environment?
Valentine’s Day creates excess waste and sadly much of it ends up in landfill sites. This increases the amount of carbon emissions released, contributing to global warming. The millions of cards produced for February 14th mean millions of trees are chopped down to create them. And the shipping of roses around the world adds more CO2 to the atmosphere.
There’s not a lot of love shown to the environment around Valentine’s Day. Buying locally reduces the impact of the holiday season, as does taking steps to celebrate it sustainably. Plan a low-waste yet loving day for your better half this year.
Find more insights into the impact of waste on the environment with the latest waste management news.
A material safety data sheet (MSDS) is a document containing information about specific chemical substances and the potential hazards of a product. It details the chemicals it contains, the possible hazards (health, fire, reactivity, and environmental), and how to safely handle, store, and dispose of it.
Organisations that work with chemicals or products containing any amount of hazardous materials must pay close attention to the MSDS. This includes if you supply, handle, or use any hazardous items. It ensures employees are familiar with their potentially harmful substances, how to handle them, and stay safe.
MSDS and waste management are closely linked as the sheet includes information about safe disposal. It’s important for all industries but especially healthcare, research laboratories, and automotive sectors. Learn more about what a material safety data sheet is and how to use it to keep your business safe.
What information does a material
safety data sheet contain?
The purpose of a material safety data sheet is to protect people from exposure to chemical and hazardous materials. An MSDS aims to keep anyone who uses the product safe by detailing information about the specific chemical substances the product contains, and how to safely handle, store, and dispose of it.
Therefore, the information an MSDS should contain includes the:
- Material’s chemical constituents and composition – molecular and chemical properties
- Hazardous ingredients
- Concentration of the chemicals
- Physical data
- Stability and reactivity
- Biological information – how it may affect humans
- Safe storage procedures
- Proper handling steps – if safety equipment/PPE is required
- Processes if it’s spilt or the material is ingested, gets in the eyes or on the skin
- Proper waste disposal methods
All the information an MSDS contains helps employers carry out a risk assessment before using such products. This is required by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) when using chemicals in the workplace.
What types of waste
need an MSDS?
Any chemical waste and types of hazardous waste will likely come with a material safety data sheet (MSDS). This mainly covers chemical waste and a variety of medical waste – such as infectious waste, old medication, and more. The MSDS with this waste should detail how to store and dispose of it safely.
Some of the main types of waste that have an MSDS include:
- Clinical waste – medicines and vials that may be hazardous
- Pharmaceutical waste – old medication and prescription drugs
- Oil waste – including waste motor oil and engine oil types
- Batteries – old AA batteries to car batteries may contain hazardous materials
- WEEE waste – certain electrical products that contain hazardous materials
The manufacturer of a product or supplier of a chemical should provide the MSDS with the product. It’s best to get in touch directly with the manufacturer if you can’t find a material safety data sheet with a product that you think should have one. The manufacturer should provide either a physical or MSDS PDF.
How to read
The MSDS format typically has 16 sections. However, some manufacturers and suppliers add extra information and the format of an MSDS can vary between countries. Generally, to read an MSDS, you should find the following sections that provide all the relevant information you need to use, store, and dispose of a product safely:
- Product and company identification – the product name, code, catalogue number, manufacturer/supplier name and contact number.
- Hazards identification – substance/mixture classification, potential health effects, and information about other hazards.
- Composition – information on the ingredients including hazardous chemical components, by-products, and impurities.
- First aid measures – actions to take if exposed to hazardous material, such as the symptoms and effects, and any immediate medical attention/special treatment.
- Firefighting measures – fire hazards of the product and the process to put it out, for help using the right type of fire extinguisher.
- Accidental release measures – how to respond to a spill or release, environmental precautions, containment and clean-up methods and materials.
- Handling and storage – how to safely store and handle the product.
- Exposure controls and personal protection – control and exposure guidelines, details of any required PPE.
- Physical and chemical properties – details about the basic physical and chemical properties of the product.
- Stability and reactivity – information about any conditions where the material could be unstable and cause a reaction.
- Toxicological information – toxicity details of the ingredients or product as a whole.
- Ecological information – information about the environmental impact of the material if released (on soil, water, wildlife etc.).
- Disposal considerations – waste treatment methods and disposal information.
- Transport information – details about precautions during shipping, an identification number, and environmental hazards for those shipping the material.
- Regulatory information – health, safety, and regulation information specific to the product to ensure compliance.
- Other information – any supplementary details important for the safe use of the product not covered in the sections above.
Why are material safety data sheets
important for waste management?
An important purpose of a material safety data sheet is to protect the environment, as well as keeping employees safe when handling hazardous materials. Every MSDS should include information about the disposal considerations, and the ecological and environmental impact of the product. These are essential for managing the waste disposal of the product properly.
You’ll need to arrange commercial waste collection for any waste you produce that comes with an MSDS as a business. Professional waste management companies such as Business Waste can use the MSDS and advise on the appropriate measures to store, remove, and dispose of such waste in a safe, legal, and environmentally friendly way.
Stringing up Christmas lights creates a warm and festive atmosphere in any office, shop, restaurant, home, or garden. But it’s always a bit sad when the holiday season’s over and you’ve got to take them down without getting too tangled up. The best, most sustainable thing to do is keep them for next year.
Fairy and Christmas tree lights can break, stop working, or you just might not need them anymore. When this happens it’s important you don’t throw them away. Instead, there are many more eco-friendly options to recycle Christmas lights that have been in your tree, decorating the office walls or hotel lobby.
Here we run through all your options whether you’ve got old Christmas lights that don’t work, haven’t got enough storage space to keep them until next year, or simply fancy some new lights for your tree.
Can you recycle
Old Christmas lights are a type of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE waste). This means you can and should recycle Christmas lights and not throw them away with general waste that sends them to landfill. They class as small electrical items and can be recycled alongside similar waste.
You can recycle old Christmas lights in a commercial WEEE bin at your business or visit your local household waste recycling centre to recycle domestic fairy lights. The process to recycle Christmas lights is similar to other electrical items. The lights are broken down into their component parts and recycled with the relevant waste streams – such as the glass bulb, metal wiring, and plastic coating.
How to recycle
Recycling Christmas lights is fairly straightforward, but it depends on the type of bulbs they have. If you have old Christmas lights with incandescent bulbs, then you should remove these from the light string first and recycle the light bulbs separately. For fairy lights with LED bulbs, you can recycle the light string as one electrical item.
Arrange delivery and collection of WEEE bins to your premises with Business Waste. We can provide free bins of many sizes for you to fill with electrical waste including old Christmas lights. Our licensed waste carriers will collect and transport the bins to a nearby waste management facility, where the lights will be recycled.
To recycle Christmas lights at home the easiest way is to visit your local household waste recycling centre. There should be a section for electrical items where you can recycle them. You should not throw Christmas lights away in your general waste or household recycling bin.
How to dispose of
old Christmas lights
If your old Christmas lights still work, then there’s no point throwing them away. Instead, extend their life by giving them to a friend or family member who can use them, or donate to a charity shop. Consider local schools, community centres, or anywhere else that could put them to good use and offer them for free.
Should you want to make a bit of money, you can always try and sell your old Christmas lights online. eBay, Gumtree, and Facebook Marketplace are common sites where you can set your own price to sell locally. This should ensure they continue to be used rather than end up in landfill.
What to do with old
Christmas lights that don’t work
You can recycle old Christmas lights that don’t work either by arranging delivery and collection of WEEE bins to your workplace or at a local household recycling centre. Recycling Christmas tree lights still uses energy, so there are other options to prolong the life of any old festive fairy lights, such as:
- Make some repairs – if you’ve had the lights for a few years, it could be that the bulbs just need changing. Replace them and if they light up again then you can keep using them. Another problem could be the wiring, which you might be able to pass on to an electrician to fix.
- Repurpose the lights – even when they don’t light up Christmas lights can make a decorative festive addition to a wreath or garland. When only a few bubs have burnt out you can also put the light string in an empty jar or vase to create a new illuminated Christmas decoration.
- Paint the bulbs – should your Christmas lights be at the end of their life you could paint over all the bulbs to upcycle them. Use festive colours like red and green along with adding glitter to keep their sparkle. Then add to a wreath or just put them up in your office or home for an energy-free festive decoration.
Where can I recycle
old Christmas lights?
Where to recycle old Christmas lights depends on whether you’re getting rid of them from your business or home. Recycling Christmas tree lights and other illuminations from your workplace means it classes as commercial waste and must be removed by licensed waste carriers. At Business Waste we can arrange delivery of free bins to store your lights for recycling.
You just pay for collection and our licensed waste carriers will remove the bins at an agreed time and take them to a relevant facility for recycling. For homes, you can check your local council’s recycling collection services or visit your nearest household recycling centre to recycle Christmas lights.
As well as Christmas tree lights recycling, the festive season can create lots more different types of waste. We’ve got extensive guides to inform you of how best to reduce, reuse, and recycle all your Christmas waste.
The good old days of traditional card advent calendars are pretty much over. Pulling back a little paper door and seeing an image of a donkey in a stable just doesn’t cut it for kids these days. They need advent calendars packed with chocolate, sweets, and toys. The problem is the extra plastic waste modern advent calendars creates.
And in recent years there’s been a growing trend for more outlandish advent calendars aimed at big kids (adults) as well. Advent calendars for beer, gin, coffee capsules, beauty products, chili sauce, even pork scratchings, all exist. These also introduce extra packaging and materials that make recycling advent calendars tricky.
There are solutions with many sustainable and plastic free advent calendars available, as well as ways to reduce the waste leftover from any advent calendar you or your children have this year. Learn how to recycle and reuse advent calendars this festive season.
Advent calendar facts
There are plenty of advent calendar facts out there about how it came to be a thing and where the biggest or smallest ever novelty advent calendar was made. But what about the waste they create? It’s not just a modern concern – during World War Two the production of advent calendars was stopped to save paper.
You might think their production should be stopped again (or at least changes made to advent calendar packaging) when you read these facts about the advent calendar and the waste it creates:
- Around 5 million advent calendars contain single-use plastics.
- The average traditional chocolate advent calendar is made from 7g of paper, 21.61g of PET plastic and 3.22g of aluminium.
- An advent calendar has around 38 times as much packaging per gram of chocolate compared to a standard chocolate bar.
- There’s also about 12 times as much plastic in an advent calendar compared to a regular bar of chocolate.
- The first advent calendar was produced in 1851 by hand and made from wood – much more sustainable than many modern ones.
- It wasn’t until around 1908 that the idea for a printed advent calendar was born.
Can advent calendars be recycled?
Traditional advent calendars are made from a combination of different materials. Separate the advent calendar and you can recycle the outer cardboard box in your domestic recycling bin. Check the plastic tray for a number and see if that type of plastic is accepted in your household recycling bin.
If the plastic tray is made from PET (1), HDPE (2), or PP (5) then there’s more chance of it being recyclable. This needs to be clean and dry to recycle though. Plastic trays from advent calendars made from other plastic types are less likely to be recyclable and should be disposed of with general waste.
The foil from advent calendars is also recyclable but it must be clean too. If there are bits of chocolate stuck to it this could contaminate the load. So, while you might not be able to recycle a complete advent calendar whole, breaking it down into recyclable parts offers the next best solution.
How to recycle an advent calendar
Once you’ve scoffed the last chocolate, built the last LEGO toy, or necked the final mini gin from your advent calendar (we won’t judge that it’s 9am on Christmas Day), you’ll want to throw away the box. But don’t just chuck it in with your general waste or recycling bin. There are three simple steps to recycle your advent calendar:
- Separate the advent calendar – most advent calendars are made from a mix of materials. Split them up into the cardboard, paper, plastic, foil, and any other materials for recycling and disposal with their relevant waste streams.
- Check and clean – check if the materials are recyclable (especially any plastics), then remove any food, dirt, or other contaminants and ensure it’s dry.
- Recycle – place the waste in your domestic recycling bin if it’s a type that’s accepted or in a specific cardboard recycling or plastic waste bin.
What can I do with an empty advent calendar?
If you find some of the materials in your empty advent calendar aren’t recyclable, don’t despair. There are many things you can do with the materials to reuse them and ensure it ends up being a more sustainable advent calendar anyway. Try the following things to do with an empty advent calendar:
- Refill and reuse – clean the plastic tray, melt some chocolate, and you’ve got some festive-shaped little chocolates. If the cardboard box and doors weren’t ripped off in excitement opening them, you might be able to reclose them with an adhesive or sticky tape to reuse the advent calendar next year.
- Make decorations – most advent calendars can’t be reused but you can cut out bits of the cardboard designs to make decorations. Put together paper chains, Christmas tree decorations, or wall hangers from the box.
- Create Christmas cards – if there are any characters or design elements intact from your empty advent calendar you can cut them out and stick on some card to make a unique Christmas card. It’s never too early to prepare for next Christmas!
- Gift tags and placeholders – make some last-minute gift tags or placeholders ready for Christmas dinner with your empty advent calendar. Cut out a square or rectangle from the cardboard and write your message or name on the back. It can then be recycled when the day is done.
- Craft confetti – when there’s not much of the design that’s salvageable from your advent calendar you could always shred it to form confetti for any upcoming celebrations, such as New Year.
Sustainable advent calendar ideas
An easy way to reduce the waste you create over the holiday season is with alternative ideas for sustainable and plastic-free advent calendars, instead of the traditional varieties. This avoids ending up with plastic and other waste that can’t be recycled on Christmas Day. Consider these sustainable advent calendar ideas:
- DIY advent calendars – the easiest way to have a plastic free advent calendar is to make your own. Use 24 old boxes, jam jars, cans, coffee tins, or anything else you can find for every window. Then fill each with a different gift to avoid creating any packaging waste. Plus, you can recycle all parts come Christmas.
- Beer advent calendars – obviously not for children, but most beer advent calendars are normally plastic free. With a cardboard box you can recycle and each gift a delicious beer in a recyclable metal can or glass bottle, this makes it highly sustainable.
- Seed advent calendars – highly eco-friendly options are seed advent calendars. The packaging is normally paper and cardboard that’s easily recycled, while planting the seeds helps you grow a variety of flowers, plants, and vegetables to keep the planet green.
- Reusable advent calendars – if you don’t have the time or creativity to make your own you could buy a reusable advent calendar. These are normally hung on a wall or door and feature 24 pockets that you can hide your own treats in to further avoid packaging waste. Plus, you can use it again next year, and the one after.
- Candle advent calendar – for something old school, why not go back to a candle advent candle? This could be either a candle you burn down to the relevant number every day or one that you just cross off each day when it burns. You can reuse the jar when it’s all melted away by Christmas.
Interested in more ways to reduce your waste over the festive season? Our detailed waste guides include hints, tricks, and tips for everything from Christmas dinner to gift wrapping and Christmas trees.
Recycling Christmas cards is incredibly easy for both businesses and households. As January arrives, it’s time to take down all those cards with nativity scenes, cartoon reindeers, and dirty Santa jokes (thanks Uncle John), whether they’re from clients, friends, or family. But don’t just chuck them in your general waste bin!
Instead, recycling old Christmas cards should be your first action. The good news is that almost all Christmas cards are recyclable. When it comes to disposing of Christmas cards it’s easy to ensure your home or business is as green as the Christmas tree was when you first put it up (the less said about its browning leaves now, the better).
Discover everything you need to know about recycling Christmas cards and do your bit for the planet in this guide.
For all things relating to Christmas waste including statistics visit our Christmas waste hub.
Every year millions of Brits get sore hands from writing Christmas cards to workmates we see every day and long-lost university friends we haven’t spoken to in years. And millions of us also get annoyed receiving millions of cards containing mundane round robins and more glitter than you see on a dress from Strictly.
They do add a festive feel to any home or business, but recycling is vital once the holiday season is over. To instill the importance of Christmas card recycling, a few fascinating facts and stats about Christmas card waste are:
- 30,000 tons of Christmas cards are thrown away every year in the UK.
- All the Christmas cards thrown out is equivalent to £2.8 million worth of landfill
- Currently, just one in four Christmas cards are recycled.
- It’s estimated that around 8 billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the UK.
- The average UK household sends 50 Christmas cards each year.
- One tree can be turned into 3,000 Christmas cards.
- Around 500 million Christmas e-cards are also delivered every holiday season.
- Christmas cards are the most poplar of all greetings cards – accounting for 61% of seasonal greeting card sales in the USA.
Can you recycle
You can recycle paper-based Christmas and envelopes. Therefore, most traditional Christmas cards are recyclable, and you can put them in your household recycling bin or take them to local recycling points (such as a nearby household waste recycling centre or some supermarkets). However, you must remove any non-paper or card-based additions, such as glitter and foil, to recycle Christmas cards.
You cannot recycle Christmas cards that contain:
Do Christmas cards go in
paper or cardboard recycling?
Christmas cards can be recycled in either a paper or cardboard recycling bin. As the fibres in paper and cardboard are similar (sharing similar characteristics of wood pulp when broken down), they can be recycled together. Christmas cards are paper based, so you can recycle them with paper, cardboard, or dry mixed recycling.
At home, simply put any Christmas cards in your domestic recycling bin alongside plastic bottles, metal drinks cans, cardboard boxes, and other recyclables. You can also remove and recycle many embellishments some Christmas cards contain, including:
Where can I take my
Christmas cards for recycling?
There are a few places you can take old Christmas cards in January for recycling:
- Paper or cardboard recycling bin – commercial cardboard and paper recycling bins at work provide an easy way to recycle your old cards.
- Supermarkets – many supermarkets have specific bins or recycling pints in January to collect Christmas cards for recycling.
- Household waste recycling centres – for local Christmas card recycling visit your nearest household waste recycling centre.
Why should I
recycle Christmas cards?
I’ve already got general waste bins, can’t I just chuck them in there? No – Christmas cards are one of the easiest types of waste to recycle, so you should always put them in your domestic recycling bin or a cardboard or dry mixed recycling bin at work.
It’s the sustainable and responsible option, as the cards can be turned into new paper and card products. This saves on the materials and energy required to create new Christmas cards for next year, reducing carbon emissions that affect global warming.
Plus, for businesses, recycling old Christmas cards saves you money on landfill tax. Throw them away with general waste and they’ll be sent to landfill or for incineration, increasing how much landfill tax you pay. Recycle them with cardboard and dry mixed recycling and you avoid these costs.
An old Christmas card still has plenty of life left in it. Aside from recycling it there are many other things you can do with any old Christmas cards you find yourself with in January. A few alternative Christmas card recycling ideas include to:
- Make gift tags – simply cut out any aspect of a Christmas card that would make a good gift tag, punch a hole in the corner, and thread through some ribbon. Get creative and make gift tags in various shapes and sizes.
- Create a collage – cut out any of the designs from your old Christmas cards and arrange them in a picture frame to create an effective festive collage.
- Turn into new cards – don’t just cross out the names and resend. Instead, cut to size any of the images you like and stick on a blank card to make some new Christmas cards ready for next year.
- Use as decorations – cut up the cards into evenly sizes strips and loop them together to make festive paper chains. You could also cut them into shapes and thread them onto some string to form festive bunting.
- Build a puzzle – slice up an old Christmas card into funky shapes to create a fun puzzle for kids and adults. Cut it into as many shapes and sizes as you like for an easy or tricky challenge.
These Christmas card recycling ideas are a great way to reduce the waste you or your business makes over the holiday season. You can find out more ways to minimise the Christmas waste you create in our extensive guides to Christmas waste.
The Christmas tree’s up in the office, the party playlist’s finalised, and the winter wind down at work has well and truly begun. But what’s happening with your business waste collections in December and early January? It might not be at the forefront of your mind, but most companies produce lots more rubbish heading into the year end.
It’s easy to forget about the increases and changes to your waste production and collection needs over the festive period when you get into the seasonal spirit (quite literally at the work Christmas party). Reducing how much commercial waste you create in the run-up to the winter holidays makes managing it much easier – which you can learn about in our guides to Christmas waste.
However, we realise you’ll still produce some amount of rubbish, so it’s important you put in place a plan to deal with it effectively. Use the following tips to tackle your business waste at Christmas with ease.
Reduce your commercial
Preparing for a busy period often means businesses overorder goods and end up with leftover waste in the new year. Do an audit of your orders and waste from previous years for an accurate estimate of how much food, packaging, products, or other items you should order. This can avoid overspending and creating unnecessary waste.
If you’re ordering lots of products or items from the same supplier, do it all in one go to minimise the packaging and fuel used for deliveries. It’s important you consider best before dates for food and have a back-up plan of what to do with any leftovers, so they don’t take up valuable space in your general waste bins.
For companies that don’t rely on ordering goods to operate, you can still reduce waste when it comes to the Christmas party and decorating the office. Everyone likes to overindulge when it comes to festive food and drinks but take a headcount for any event and consider donating leftovers to charity.
Bring forward your
waste collection dates
Will your business be closed for a few days over the Christmas holidays? Then consider moving your waste collection dates earlier to account for this. It’s especially important when you produce more rubbish during this period to avoid it all piling up and sitting there rotting away on the cold dark days and nights.
Dry waste such as cardboard, paper, and metal is fine to leave in secure bins. Other rubbish like food and general waste is best removed and disposed of before your business shuts. If left in your bins for just a few days they’ll start to smell, creating an unpleasant environment for your staff and customers.
Book extra (festive) bins
More merriment makes more waste! It might just be extra wrappers in the office bin from all the festive food being indulged or additional cardboard from Santa (well, Amazon) gift deliveries at work. The amount of waste you produce increases due to greater demand, especially for restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels, and shops.
Good planning is vital to deal with any waste increases in an efficient and cost-effective way. This avoids being hit with overweight charges for putting too much rubbish in your commercial bins or facing expensive last-minute removal costs to clear the extra waste created.
Check any data you have about your bin collections from the festive period last year for an accurate estimate of how much extra waste you’ll likely produce. Then use this and any other relevant information to order more bins, bigger bins, or increase your collection frequencies for a few weeks.
Some of the common waste types that increase for businesses around Christmas that you might need to order extra or bigger bins for include:
- Cardboard recycling – for all those delivery boxes, advent calendars, and decorations.
- Food waste – leftovers from the Christmas lunch and those extra sweets and treats around the office.
- Packaging recycling – plastic packaging from extra deliveries and festive food.
- General waste – non-recyclables can increase such as packaging and food scraps.
- Glass recycling – drinks bottles from any Christmas celebrations.
Avoid Christmas contamination
It may be easy to just throw any extra rubbish in your general waste bin or slip paper plates covered with Christmas cake crumbs into your paper recycling and hope they go unnoticed. However, this can cause contamination that may mean the entire load is rejected or sent to landfill instead.
Try and recycle or reuse as many seasonal items as possible that your business finds itself with in early January. Check what’s recyclable and arrange delivery of the relevant bins to separate into appropriate streams. This helps the environment and saves you money, by reducing how much landfill tax you’ll pay to get rid of your festive waste.
Recycle the office
Many businesses go fully festive and decorate offices, restaurants, and shops with a Christmas tree or three. It creates a wonderful wintery atmosphere but come early January, what do you do with them?
The best thing to do if you’ve put up an artificial Christmas tree is keep it for next year, providing you’ve got enough storage space. Otherwise, donate it to a charity shop and they should sell it in time for next Christmas. For any broken trees, you might be able to get rid of it sustainably with your commercial plastic recycling – just check the type of plastic.
Replanting or recycling is advised when you’ve had real trees decorating your business. You can find out what to do with an old Christmas tree that’s real in our detailed guide. Just remember to remove all baubles, tinsel, and decorations before you recycle any Christmas tree!
Plan a low waste
A major source of extra commercial waste at winter can be caused by the Christmas party if you host it on your own premises. However carefully you plan it’s likely there’ll be some leftover food, half-drunk bottles of beer and wine, and all the packaging that goes with it.
Prepare by increasing the number and types of bins you need and arrange collection the day after the party to get rid of all waste quickly. Glass recycling bins for all the bottles, extra food waste bins, and general waste collections for all the other rubbish created are some of the main priorities.
Need a hand with your
company’s Christmas waste?
Santa may be generous and deliver plenty of presents over Christmas, but he won’t clear up the waste from your work party, decorations, or festive food. That’s where we come in. At Business Waste, we’re experts at arranging waste collections suited to your specific needs, whatever industry you work in and rubbish type you need disposing.
We provide free bins to businesses anywhere in the country – you just pay for collection. Plus, we work on a zero landfill policy, so aim to recycle as much waste as possible to save you money and help you operate in a way that’s as green as the holly wreath on your door.
Sustainable Christmas gifts are a present to the environment and your loved ones. Every year we buy each other millions of presents that end up in landfill, whether it’s a forgotten plastic toy, unwanted set of teacups, or a jumper that doesn’t fit. There are better ways to recycle and reuse unwanted gifts, but buying environmentally friendly Christmas presents int he first place can help.
But what makes a Christmas gift sustainable? It needs to be something you can reuse, which creates little or zero waste, and that’s biodegradable or compostable. Eco-friendly Christmas gifts are simply those that have barely any environmental impact during their life – from production to their use and disposal.
Protect the planet when planning presents this year with these zero waste Christmas gift ideas.
For the fashionista in your life there are plenty of great sustainable Christmas presents you can buy – just check what materials any clothing is made from. Purchasing second hand clothes is one of the most eco-friendly choices, but if you want to give something brand new that’s still sustainable, consider the following options:
- Mahabis slippers – a mixture of sustainable, recycled, organic, and responsibly sourced materials are used to make Mahabis slippers. Plus, for each pair you buy a new tree is planted.
- Eco-friendly merino wool scarves – Sheep Inc produce naturally carbon negative scarves from merino wool. This wool is sourced from regenerative farms in New Zealand that use solar-powered, zero-waste Wholegarment® machines.
- Finisterre beanie – Finisterre is a sustainable fashion label that uses natural fibres to make its merino wool beanies. These are soft and warm, while also being renewable, so the fibres can be recycled time and again.
- Organic kids’ clothing – various brands make children’s clothes from organic cotton and other sustainably sourced materials, including Noble, Frugi, and Duns.
- Patagonia – buying clothing gifts from Patagonia helps the planet in various ways as the brand supports environmental non-profit organisations, uses recycled and sustainable materials, and offers a repair and reuse program.
food Christmas presents
Food is a big part of Christmas and makes a great gift. Aside from the packaging, it shouldn’t create much (if any) waste if your recipient enjoys the tasty treats. However, every year we create mountains of food waste over the festive period, so picking out some environmentally friendly Christmas gifts based around food can help. Consider these choices:
- Chocolate – there are many brands producing sustainable chocolate these days from organic and natural ingredients, such as Beyond Good, Motif, and Tony’s. Most also come in recyclable packaging.
- Citizens of Soil olive oil – all the Citizens of Soil olive oil bottles look classy and come in sizes up to 1.5 litres with refill pouches so you can reuse the bottle. The olive oil they contain is sourced from female-led regenerative olive groves and they donate 1% of profits to regeneration projects.
- Seeds gift pack – grow-you-own seeds kits are ideal for that foodie friend with green fingers. You can find kits to use on balconies, in gardens, and even inside to suit all homes.
- Zero waste cookbooks – help your friends and family make their food go further while reducing food waste with one of the various zero waste cookbooks out there. Everything from zero waste meaty meals to vegan dishes, baking, and more are available.
- Beeswax food wraps – cling film is commonly used in the kitchen but problematic as a single-use plastic. These beeswax wraps are a great alternative for that eco-conscious friend who loves to get creative in the kitchen – ideal for wrapping up leftover turkey sandwiches too!
Sustainable Christmas presents
for the home
Environmentally friendly Christmas gifts add a festive feel to any home, while some can be used all year round. Most use natural and sustainable materials rather than plastics that are harder to recycle to create an eco-friendly home. Some of the best sustainable Christmas gifts for the home include:
- Candles – light up a loved one’s home with sustainable candles, such as those from Siblings – non-toxic coconut oil wax in a compostable bag. Simply heat in boiling water and pour into an old jar or container for a plastic and no waste Christmas gift. Or consider a candle making set for a practical and plastic-free present.
- Linen duvet set – linen is light and breathable, which makes it great for bedding. It’s also completely biodegradable and easily recyclable, so one of the world’s most sustainable fabrics.
- Recycled cotton throw – the Sourced by Oxfam collection has a variety of sustainable products including a colourful throw made from recycled cotton, rayon, and polyester. Add a colourful and eco-friendly touch to a loved one’s sofa.
- Handmade wood chopping boards – it’s not Christmas without a cheeseboard, and wood is one of the most sustainable natural materials. Many are made from 100% wood, meaning they can be completely recycled if they break.
- Block soap – many cleaning products contain all sorts of chemicals and come in plastic packaging that’s hard to recycle. Block soap (with a wooden-handled scrubber) makes a great plastic-free alternative for a zero-waste clean of your home.
DIY eco-friendly Christmas gifts ensure you give something truly unique, while you can control all the materials used to make them – reducing waste at the source. If crafting isn’t your thing, you can always seek out the assistance of an expert (have a browse on Etsy). Whether you go DIY or enlist someone else’s help, some ideas for homemade sustainable Christmas gifts are:
- Home baking – avoid the packaging that comes with most festive foods by baking your own gingerbread, salted caramel, jams, and chutneys. Reuse any jars and boxes you have to store them. For any non-bakers, try something simple like chocolate orange slices.
- Snow globe – all you need is a clean jam jar, some salt, and a little creativity to build a bespoke snow globe. You could add in a special photo, make a tiny tree, or pop in any unused small toys to craft a Christmas scene.
- Wall hangings – use an old tea towel or some leftover fabric and create a simple yet effective wall hanging by sewing in a message, shape, or other design. It’s a great way to reuse textiles and create a useful home decoration.
- Bath salts – most bath salts include lots of plastic packaging. Instead, make your own with salt, baking soda, essential oils, and a glass jar. Add some dried flowers for an alluring aroma.
- Beeswax candles – roll up a few beeswax sheets and secure them, then add a festive decorative touch to create Christmas candles – without having to melt hot wax.
Looking for more ways to have a low waste Christmas this year? Aside from buying zero waste Christmas presents, there are plenty of other things you can do as a household or business to celebrate the holiday season sustainably.
How many Christmas presents end up in landfill?
Around one million Christmas presents are thrown away in the UK every year. Research found that around 21 million Brits receive at least one unwanted Christmas present every year. While many are regifted, sold, or donated to charity, sadly around 5% of these are thrown away – meaning they’ll likely make their way to landfill.
What can I give instead of Christmas gifts?
There are a few things you can give as an alternative to a physical Christmas gift, such as:
- An experience – such as a spa day, meal out, or racetrack visit.
- Donations to a charity on the receiver’s behalf, ideally one that aligns with their values.
- Your time to do any chores like cleaning the car or mowing the lawn.
- A subscription to a streaming service.
- Host an event, such as a quiz night or movie evening.
What do you get an environmentally conscious friend?
Sustainable and zero waste gifts are best for that environmentally conscious friend in your life. Look for items made from natural and sustainable materials that are sourced ethically and create a minimal carbon footprint. This could be anything from reusable bags and storage boxes to biodegradable clothing and phone cases made from recycled plastic.
Rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield OBE is set to take on his third mammoth fundraising challenge in mid-November to continue the fight against motor neurone disease (MND). At Business Waste, we’re proud to support his latest endeavour as a key benefactor. We’re also encouraging other companies and individuals in the waste management industry to get behind his efforts and donate.
Inspired by his friend and former Leeds Rhinos teammate Rob Burrow – as well as Doddie Weir, Stephen Darby and anyone living with MND – Sinfield will run 7 ultra marathons in 7 days. The aim is to raise £777,777, which will be split between five charities working to find effective treatments and a cure for MND:
- Motor Neurone Disease Association
- Leeds Hospitals Charity
- The Darby Rimmer MND Foundation
- My Name’5 Doddie Foundation
- MND Scotland
What is the Ultra 7in7 Challenge?
The Ultra 7in7 Challenge is Kevin Sinfield’s third and toughest challenge yet to raise awareness and funds to fight MND. Starting on Sunday 13th November at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh and finishing on Saturday 19th November at Old Trafford in Manchester, he’ll run more than 60km (37 miles) every day.
The route takes in Melrose, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, York, Leeds, and Bradford as he makes his way south. On the penultimate day (day six – 18th November) he’ll be in our neck of the woods, setting off from York Minster in the morning before finishing at Valley Parade in Bradford.
The challenge is set for a grand finale as on Saturday 19th November Kevin Sinfield reaches Old Trafford at half time in the Men’s Rugby League World Cup Final. By that point he’ll hopefully have smashed the target of raising £777,777 – but he can only do so with your help!
How can I donate?
Anyone can donate to help Kevin reach his huge target. However, we’d like to especially encourage anyone working in the world of waste management to chip in where possible. From our customers and suppliers to local and national waste management firms, it’d be great for as many as possible to unite and get behind the fight against MND.
To make a donation online please visit the official donation page here. You can find out more information about the challenge, where the money raised goes, how it’s used, and keep up to date with the progress of the challenge.
You can also support this great cause by picking up a limited-edition t-shirt or running vest. 10% of sales will be donated to MND and 10% to Leeds Hospitals Charity. It could even inspire you to take up your own fundraising challenge! Find the range online here.
Take on your own 7in7 challenge
As well as raising vital funds to combat MND, it’s also hoped Sinfield’s efforts will once again inspire others to take up their own 7in7 fundraising challenges. We’d like to encourage as many people and businesses in the waste management sector to try – whether you tackle a 7in7 challenge as an individual or a team.
Pick a distance and complete seven runs, walks, swims, or bike rides over seven consecutive days. It could be one mile or seven kilometres a day, 77 miles over seven days in total, or any other amount that’s comfortable.
Millions of pumpkins are grown, harvested, bought, carved, and thrown away at Halloween every year in the UK. It adds to the scary amount of food waste we already create. But there are all sorts of things to do with pumpkins after Halloween to avoid creating more food waste and adding to landfill levels.
Understanding how to dispose of pumpkins after Halloween helps households and businesses use carved and old pumpkins in a more sustainable way. Simply using the innards of a pumpkin in recipes when carving a pumpkin is a good start – yet more than half of all Brits aren’t aware that pumpkins are edible!
Scooping out the insides of a pumpkin and using them to cook up a soup is one of the best things to do before you start carving your jack-o’-lantern. There are other options for making the most of pumpkins in October before they start to rot. Discover what to do with old pumpkins after Halloween with these ideas.
Facts about Halloween pumpkin waste
A few frightening facts and stats about pumpkin waste at Halloween are that:
- Between 17 and 24 million pumpkins are bought each year in the UK to celebrate Halloween.
- The good news is most are locally sourced, as between 10 and 15 million pumpkins are grown and harvested in the UK annually.
- However, it’s estimated around 13 million pumpkins are wasted – carved up then thrown away with household waste.
- This works out at about 18,000 tons of Halloween pumpkin waste that ends up in landfill.
- The costs of our Halloween habit are haunting, as Brits spend close to £29 million on pumpkins every year.
- When Pumpkins sit in landfill they release methane gas – a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
- It can take a pumpkin more than 20 years to decompose in landfill – compared to eight to 12 weeks in compost to completely break down if chopped up.
How long do Halloween pumpkins last?
Carved Halloween pumpkins may last for up to five days. In particularly cold areas they might last for up to two weeks before they start to wilt. If you leave an uncarved pumpkin on your porch out of the sun and avoid freezing conditions, it can last for two to three months.
You can extend the life of a pumpkin at Halloween by decorating it with a black marker pen, googly eyes, paper or cardboard – rather than carving into it. If you want to carve it, avoid cutting off the top, as removing the stem shortens the life of any fruit or vegetable. Cut into the back or bottom instead.
Are Halloween pumpkins edible?
Yes, all varieties of pumpkins are edible. You can eat carving pumpkins in the UK, but they’re often a bit waterier and stringier than the types grown for eating. Still, you can eat them – just keep the pumpkin cool, check for any bugs, and ideally use it within 24 hours of carving it.
One of the best things to do with pumpkins after Halloween is using the innards and flesh in seasonal recipes. After carving out the insides of a pumpkin, use this bit of the fruit soon after in your baking or store in the fridge for later. A few pumpkin recipe ideas to use as much of the fruit as possible include:
- Pumpkin soup – an autumnal classic, simply boil the flesh with stock and seasoning, then put it in a blender.
- Pumpkin cake – follow a traditional carrot cake recipe but switch out carrot for pumpkin or follow a recipe for the similar pumpkin loaf.
- Roasted pumpkin seeds – scoop out the seeds, dry them off, and coat in your chosen seasoning (salt, chili powder, or herbs for a savoury snack – cinnamon and sugar for something sweet).
- Pumpkin pie – this American fall favourite uses a shortcrust pastry tart case, plenty of sugar, milk, and butter for a tasty treat.
- Pumpkin spiced latte – blend pumpkin flesh to create a puree, then whizz this up with coffee, milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup for a homemade pumpkin spiced latte.
What to do with carved pumpkins after Halloween
Most people buy pumpkins to transform into jack-o’-lanterns by carving into its orange flesh. This creates a creepy effect but does mean it won’t last very long and you’re left with an awkward shape and amount of pumpkin. Whatever you do though, don’t throw it in your household or business’ general waste bin to prevent it going to landfill.
As mentioned, one of the best things to do with pumpkins after Halloween is to eat as much as possible. However, if you carved into it a few days ago or have already used the edible parts in a few recipes, you might wonder how to dispose of the rest of it. Here are some ideas for what you can do with old carved pumpkins:
- Chop up and compost – there’s lots of water in pumpkins so they decompose quickly. Cut them up into smaller chunks and they can break down in as little as eight weeks. Remove the seeds before adding to your compost pile, so they don’t root.
- Bury in soil – if you don’t have a compost bin you can still cut up an old pumpkin, remove its seeds, and bury it directly in your garden. It will break down and provide nutrients for other plants.
- Plant the seeds – take out the seeds and rinse any pulp off, then store in a cool dry place (your fridge or a dark cupboard). Pick out the biggest ones and plant them in April, so they should be fully grown into pumpkins by October.
- Make DIY jewellery – if you want to do something with the seeds now, use them to make a necklace or bracelet. Wash and dry the seeds, colour them with pens or paint, then make a hole through each with a needle and thread through some fine elastic.
- Turn it into a plant pot – transform a carved pumpkin into a short-term plant pot by filling with florists’ foam or soil (make sure to block up any carved-out bits first so it doesn’t fall out the side). Then pop in your flowers or plants. Try to use plants that prefer shade, as keeping the pumpkin in sunlight will speed up its rotting.
- Dispose of it with food waste – if your old carved Halloween pumpkin has reached the end of its life (starting to physically decompose and smell), dispose of it in a food waste bin. This should ensure it’s sent for anaerobic digestion to generate energy – rather than rotting in landfill and adding to greenhouse gas emissions.
What to do with pumpkins after Halloween for animals
It’s not just humans who can eat waste Halloween pumpkins, they’re also safe and healthy to eat for all sorts of animals. Before feeding one to Fido (or any other wildlife), make sure you remove any paint, ink, or other decorations that could cause illness. Otherwise, there are a few things you can do with pumpkins after Halloween for animals:
- Make a bird feeder – cut the top off your old pumpkin to create a bowl shape and fill with bird seed. Then hang it up in your garden with some strong string or wiring, and check it holds.
- Pass on to your pets – pumpkins are safe for domesticated animals and they’re full of goodness too. Packed with vitamins and fibre makes them great for digestion for dogs and cats. If your pets are fussy, try blending it into a puree and adding to their regular food.
- Donate your old pumpkin – local animal shelters, farms, and zoos may accept your old pumpkins to use as animal feed.
Which bin do pumpkins go in?
When it’s time to throw your old pumpkin away, don’t put it in the same bin as your household rubbish or general waste at work. This will likely result in it making its way to landfill and adding to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, to dispose of pumpkins after Halloween use a food waste bin.
Putting old pumpkins in a food waste bin ensures they’re disposed of properly alongside other types of food waste. Often, it’ll go for anaerobic digestion, which uses pumpkins and other food waste to generate energy – a much greener option.
Looking for more tips to reduce your waste around spooky season?
Transforming your home or office into a haunted house means putting up terrifying decorations to get into the spooky spirit. Every year in the UK we spend more than £600 million celebrating Halloween – covering the cost of costumes, décor, food, and drinks. Halloween decorations make up a significant chunk of this amount.
While figures for the UK are currently scarce, trends from the other side of the pond are slowly creeping into our culture. In the USA, 67% of people put up Halloween decorations inside their home, while 61% decorate their gardens and yards. That’s a huge amount of Halloween decorations on display, but what happens to them come November?
A scary amount are thrown away and end up in landfill, but this shouldn’t be the case. Discover what to do with your Halloween decorations to cut down on waste.
What’s wrong with plastic Halloween decorations?
Many of the Halloween decorations sold in supermarkets are made from plastic or include a type of plastic in their materials. There’s nothing wrong with hanging up plastic lanterns in your home, blowing up an inflatable giant skeleton or putting up fake plastic gravestones in your garden. It’s what you do after taking them down that can cause problems.
Throwing away your old Halloween decorations in your household or general waste bin means it’ll end up in landfill or be sent for incineration. Any plastic waste that ends up in landfill takes tens, hundreds, or thousands of years to decompose. Halloween decorations made from metal, wood, and other materials take longer than normal to break down.
As the decorations sit in landfill the chemicals contained in the plastic can leach potentially toxic substances into the ground, water, and air. This has a negative effect on the ecosystem and adds to pollution levels – as landfills release large amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Some plastic waste, including your old Halloween decorations, may be processed in incinerators to generate energy, rather than heading to landfill. While this avoids contributing to landfill levels, burning plastic releases toxic gases, heavy metals, and particles into the air – still adding to air pollution and having a negative environmental effect.
What to do with old Halloween decorations
Where possible avoid throwing your old Halloween decorations away with your general waste. Rather than sending them to landfill or for incineration, there are more sustainable options once October is over. These are three main things you can do whatever materials your old Halloween decorations are made from:
- Put them in storage – Halloween decorations don’t go out of date or deteriorate over time. Store them in a cupboard at home or work so you can bring them out next year to use again, saving money, time, and energy.
- Donate or sell them – if you don’t have storage space or won’t reuse your decorations, donate them to a local charity shop, friends, or family. Alternatively, sell them online or even offer them for free on places like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree.
- Recycle your decorations – check the materials your decorations are made from and whether you can put them in your household recycling bin. If not, see if you can take them to a nearby recycling centre or arrange collection for recycling from your business.
How to recycle Halloween decorations
If your Halloween decorations get broken or damaged beyond repair, you might have no option but to throw them out. Thankfully, many can be recycled rather than sent to landfill. Find out how to recycle different Halloween decorations based on their materials.
Halloween light strings and lanterns
Any frightening fairy lights or plastic lanterns hung up in your garden or home can be recycled in two parts if they’ve stopped working. Remove the bulbs and recycle these alongside other energy-saving light bulbs – with a dedicated bin or at a recycling centre. You cannot recycle the bulbs with glass recycling as they contain wires.
The wires, casing, and other parts of your Halloween light strings and lanterns should be recycled with any WEEE waste. This ensures the electrical parts are removed and different materials separated and recycled in their individual streams.
Inflatable pumpkins, skeletons, and spiders provide an eerie effect in or outside your home or business. What’s even scarier is trying to recycle them. Most of these inflatables are made from nylon or vinyl and coated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These are all hard to recycle by themselves, let alone when combined.
Check the materials your inflatables are made from though, as some types of plastic are recyclable – so you might be able to recycle it in a plastic waste bin. Otherwise, donate or keep your inflatables. If it’s damaged, see if any local artists or schools can use the materials in their projects.
Plastic Halloween decorations
Check the type of plastic your Halloween decorations are made from to see if it’s recyclable. Many plastic types can now be recycled and if your decorations are made from just one type of plastic this should be possible. Ensure the decorations are clean and dry with no contaminants before you put them in a plastic recycling bin or your household recycling bin.
If your decorations light up or include other materials, then they’ll be harder to recycle. Anything with electrical parts should be recycled with WEEE waste. Otherwise, try and separate the plastic from other materials and place in the relevant bin for the likes of glass or metal recycling.
Glass, ceramic, and wooden Halloween decorations
The good news is that glass is one of the easiest materials to recycle. You can normally recycle glass jars, bottles, and ornaments used to decorate your home or office for Halloween. Try and remove any paper or paint added to them if possible.
If you’ve put up wooden signs inside or outside, you might be able to recycle these with any other wood waste. However, any paint or varnish could mean they’ll be rejected, so it’s worth trying to remove this first. Unfortunately, ceramic isn’t recyclable. If you’ve got any broken ceramic Halloween figures or ornaments these need disposing of with general waste.
Ideas for making recycled Halloween decorations
Rather than buying new Halloween decorations every year, why not create your own from materials around your home or workplace? A few ideas to make recycled Halloween decorations include:
- Ghastly ghost windsocks – paint an old tin can white or wrap it in white paper and add a pair of eyes and a mouth. Then attach some streams of toilet or other white paper and hang outside to blow about in the breeze.
- Paper pumpkins – real pumpkins create lots of food waste every October, so consider making a recyclable one. Wrap a football in orange paper and use a black marker pen to draw on your jack-o’-lantern design, then recycle the paper later.
- Menacing Mummy light jars – get a glass jar and pop in a tea light, then wrap the jar with white paper or fabric and add some eyes. Ensure there’s no risk of the light inside setting fire to the exterior. When it’s finished with, recycle the glass jar.
- Petrifying plastic bottle plant pots – cut a two-litre plastic bottle in half and paint the outside with the face of a ghost, Frankenstein, witch, or any other Halloween character. Fill with soil and some herbs or another plant to give the effect of green hair.
- Scary milk bottle skeletons – cut up your old white plastic milk bottles and arrange into a skeleton shape. Attach the ‘bones’ with bits of wire and hang up in or outside. You can always recycle the plastic milk bottles afterwards.
The amount of extra food, plastic, and packaging waste households produce celebrating Halloween every year is well known. But businesses across the UK are just as responsible for generating lots more rubbish as spooky season starts. Having a sustainable plan in place to deal with and recycle commercial Halloween waste is vital for any organisation.
Think about how many shops, pubs, and offices are decorated in October – almost all of them. Businesses are a big contributor to the thousands of tons of excess waste Halloween generates every year in the UK. It means business owners are in a good position to help reduce and recycle Halloween waste though.
Explore ways to effectively manage and reduce the amount of waste your company produces this Halloween to save money and the environment with these tips.
Plan your company’s Halloween party perfectly
Workplace Halloween parties are a great socialising and teambuilding opportunity – at a good midpoint between summer and Christmas parties. Plenty of preparation will go into the venue, decorations, food, and entertainment. The more carefully you plan things, the easier it is to limit the waste your company’s Halloween party generates.
Order any food based on the number of attendees to minimise how much might be leftover and cut down on food waste. Use glasses for drinks and any plates and cutlery from your workplace kitchen, rather than disposable plastic cups and plates, to cut down on plastic waste.
Check if you or any employees already own Halloween decorations you can use rather than buying new ones. If not, consider making decorations from materials like paper and cardboard, which can be recycled easily afterwards. You could use such an activity as another teambuilding exercise.
Recycle your commercial Halloween waste
Hopefully your business already uses a variety of different bins to separate its waste types and send as much as possible for recycling. If you only run a small operation though, you might just have a dry mixed recycling bin that meets your daily recycling needs.
When it’s Halloween you may produce more and a wider variety of recyclable waste. Instead of chucking this in with your mixed recycling or general waste bin, using specific recycling bins for each waste stream should ensure as much as possible is recycled. Common items for your business to recycle around Halloween include:
- Packaging waste – sweet wrappers and food packaging create lots of waste for businesses at Halloween, some of which may be recyclable.
- Glass recycling – use a glass bin to recycle any empty, rinsed out glass beer, wine, and other bottles from your work Halloween party.
- Plastic waste – many Halloween decorations are made from plastic and might be recyclable, while you can recycle most clean and empty plastic drinks bottles.
- Paper recycling – paper decorations or sheets used for Halloween party games such as a quiz should be put in a paper recycling bin.
- Cardboard recycling – cardboard decorations may include haunting Halloween signs, while cardboard packaging for deliveries of costumes, décor, and food should be recycled responsibly.
Increase bin collections
As your business may generate more waste celebrating Halloween, it only makes sense that you’ll need to get your bins collected more often. In preparation for producing more rubbish means you can order bigger bins to store it or arrange more frequent collections in October and early November to manage your waste effectively.
Work out what waste types and how much extra rubbish you might produce to avoid overfilling bins and being hit with overweight charges. Aside from recycling, your general waste output may increase and need managing too. Planning extra bin collections in advance avoids waste stacking up on your premises, which may cause safety, hygiene, and unsightly issues.
If you’re just having a Halloween party at work, you might only need to add an extra one-off collection to cover the excess waste created. Should you have a whole month of celebrations planned – including decorations, parties, and dress-up days – you may need to increase your bin collections for a few weeks.
Contact us to adapt your business waste collections for Halloween.
Bring in extra bin types
Alongside producing more general waste and recycling, your commercial Halloween celebrations can create specialist waste with which you don’t normally deal. You can use specialist bins that ensure such rubbish is disposed of safely, sustainably, and recycled where possible – rather than going to landfill.
Consider using specialist bins to store and dispose of other waste your business produces at Halloween for:
- Food waste – if your business doesn’t normally serve food but will be at your Halloween party, use a food bin for any waste. This ensures it’s sent for anaerobic digestion and used to generate energy rather than rotting in landfill.
- Battery bins – many Halloween decorations use batteries that can run out. Due to the chemicals they contain, disposing of them separately in a battery waste bin is the safe and responsible option.
- WEEE waste – broken light strings and electronic decorations used by your business for Halloween should be disposed of with WEEE waste. This way they’re broken down into separate materials and as much as possible is recycled.
- Lightbulbs – green, orange, and other coloured light bulbs add an eerie effect to your office, shop, or restaurant at Halloween. When any lightbulbs reach the end of their life you can’t throw them away with glass recycling due to their wires – instead arrange separate collection and recycling.
Reuse Halloween decorations
The easiest way for your business to go green this Halloween and significantly reduce how much waste you produce is to keep as much as possible. Store any Halloween decorations, costumes, tablecloths, themed plates, cutlery, and anything else for next year. This saves money as well as reducing waste.
Where cost cutting isn’t essential, consider letting your employees take home any Halloween decorations to use in their own homes. You could also donate any to local charity shops if your business doesn’t have space to store them for 12 months.
You can easily repurpose some decorations, such as using Halloween light strings to decorate your business at Christmas – as they’re essentially the same as fairy lights. Just remove any specific spooky references if there are any. Other ideas include transforming sheets, paper, and other white decorations into snowy décor. And there are ways to recycle Halloween decorations.
Halloween plastic waste could be the scariest thing about the spooky holiday. Forget the creepy costumes, darker days, and petrifying pumpkins – the increased amount of plastic thrown into landfill around Halloween and its environmental effects are truly terrifying. Decomposing for hundreds of years, leaching chemicals, and releasing greenhouse gases is like something out of a Halloween horror film.
So, what can we do? The rise of plastic use and waste hasn’t gone unnoticed, and many businesses and individual are seeking plastic-free alternatives for their Halloween costumes, decorations, treat, and parties. Find out how much plastic waste we produce at Halloween and ways to cut down this year.
How much plastic waste does Halloween produce?
Halloween produces lots of plastic waste from costumes, decorations, and sweet wrappers. Some frightening facts include:
- 83% of Halloween costumes and clothing are made from plastic.
- Halloween costumes create 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste every year – similar to the weight of 18 blue whales.
- Of these Halloween costumes, around 63% contain polyester.
- Polyester can take between 20 and 200 years to decompose in landfill.
- In the USA, 275 million kilograms of Halloween sweets are bought each year – creating mountains of plastic wrapper waste.
To help bring these numbers down there are various things you can do to reduce the plastic waste Halloween produces.
Avoid Halloween costumes containing plastic
Buying almost any type of Halloween costume from a supermarket or fancy dress shop will contain some level of plastic that’s tricky or hard to recycle – even when sent for textile recycling. This includes everything from accessories such as plastic Halloween masks to complete costumes. The packaging they’re sold in is also often made from plastic.
Simply avoid buying a new costume every year to cut back on your plastic use and waste.
A few alternatives include:
- Hiring a fancy dress costume. Even if it contains plastic, at least it’ll be reused many times and not thrown away.
- Reusing a costume you already own or borrowing one from a friend. Again, even if it uses plastic at least it won’t be thrown out.
- Making your own Halloween costume from clothing items you have, so you can dismantle it and keep wearing them in the future.
Put up plastic free Halloween decorations
Wander round your neighbourhood in October and you’ll likely see gardens full of gravestones, skeletons, bats, and more. What do they all have in common (aside from transforming suburban semi-detached homes into haunted houses)? They’re mostly made from plastic, used once, then chucked in the bin.
Thankfully, there are plenty of non-plastic Halloween decorations you can put up in and outside your home instead. These materials and decorations can then be reused, recycled, or kept for next year. A few ideas for plastic free Halloween decorations include:
- Paper bats and spiders – use black paper or card and cut out spider and bat shapes. Hang them around your home or garden with some twine for a simple yet scary effect. Keep for next year or throw away with your paper or cardboard recycling.
- String spider webs – tie up some string in a simple spider web style or use more black paper to cut one out and stick to your walls, like making paper snowflakes.
- Scarecrow – stuff some old clothes with newspaper, which you can recycle afterwards, and blow up a balloon or use a football for a head to create a scarecrow. Sit it in a chair or wheelbarrow in your garden to creep out any trick-or-treaters.
- Light jars – most Halloween lights are made of plastic. Instead, put a tea light in empty glass jars to form an eerie atmosphere (in or outside). You can always paint the jars if you want and when Halloween’s over, clean them out and recycle the glass.
- Scary signs – if you’ve got some old wooden board or pieces of cardboard, use a red pen or paint to make your own signs with ‘keep out’, ‘turn back now’, and other slogans. Recycle the wood or cardboard once you’re done with them.
Plan a no plastic Halloween party
Throwing a Halloween party at home or work? This can create lots of plastic waste without careful planning. Choosing plastic free Halloween decorations and costumes is a good start, but you’ll also need to focus on the catering. A few considerations for a plastic free Halloween party are:
- Cups and straws – plastic Halloween cups, straws, and wine glasses may be a convenient choice that fit the theme, but unless you wash and reuse them next year they’ll likely end up in landfill. Use your own glasses or opt for paper cups and straws if you must use disposable ones, as these are easier to clean and recycle.
- Plates – Halloween plastic plates are also convenient and on theme, but hard to recycle. If you can’t use your own plates, try to offer food that doesn’t need plates or can be eaten from a paper napkin.
- Tablecloth – many supermarkets sell Halloween plastic tablecloths but don’t get lured in. Instead, use your regular tablecloth but surround it with non-plastic Halloween decorations (after all, most of the table will be covered with plates and food that hide the tablecloth’s design anyway).
Give out plastic free Halloween treats
Sweet and treat wrappers are a real problem at Halloween as most of them are made from a combination of plastic and aluminium. These need separating to recycle each stream individually as plastic and metal waste. However, it’s often either impossible to separate the two or the costs and energy involved are so high that they end up in landfill.
Even Halloween sweet wrappers made from pure plastic might not be recycled if they’re too small to provide value or simply pass through the machines. Those coated in sticky substances and bits of food waste may also be diverted away from recycling to landfill.
The easiest thing to do is provide non-plastic Halloween treats to any trick-or-treaters. Buy sweets in bulk that come in cardboard boxes or glass jars with zero packaging to hand out loose sweets. Other ideas for plastic free Halloween treats include offering home baking, fruit, or paper, foil, or boxed sweets.
Remove plastic from trick-or-treating
If your own kids are going trick-or-treating, don’t buy cheap plastic Halloween buckets for them to use. These often get used once then thrown away (or left in a cupboard and forgotten about until after you’ve bought another plastic Halloween bucket next year). Instead, use a bucket you already own and decorate with stickers or paint to add a creative pumpkin or skeleton design.
You could also add a Halloween theme to any plain fabric bags you own with a few black and orange pens. If your kids are more bothered about what’s in their bucket/bag than the container itself, simply send them out with a plastic carrier bag.
Provide plastic recycling bins
Going completely plastic free at Halloween can be tricky. For any plastic you use, try and make sure it’s recyclable first. Place a few plastic recycling bins around your workplace or office for easy access and encourage guests to recycle as much as possible. It might not completely eliminate plastic but at least it should divert lots from landfill.
It’s estimated that around 33 million people dress up for Halloween in the UK every year. That’s 33 million Halloween costumes worn by children and adults to get into the spooky spirit – from witches and vampires to superheroes and the latest pop culture characters. But what happens to those costumes once November 1st arrives?
Unfortunately, lots are binned and end up in landfill. Buying a brand-new Halloween costume might be quick, convenient, and ensure you get a high-quality outfit that taps into any topical trends, but it’s another type of fast fashion. Many people wear a costume once then throw it away – and its environmental impact can be scarier than the costumes itself.
Learn all about Halloween costume waste, what happens to it, and ways to reduce it with our ideas for low waste costumes and sustainable disposal.
Halloween costume facts
Dressing up for Halloween is all part of the frightening fun. The costs and amount of waste it produces are truly terrifying though. To highlight the effect spooky season has on the waste industry, here are some stats, facts, and numbers about Halloween costumes:
- Seven million Halloween costumes are thrown away every year in the UK.
- 40% of Halloween costumes are only worn once.
- Around 85% of Halloween costumes eventually end up in landfill.
- Plastic makes up 83% of material in the average Halloween costume.
- On average men spend £33.10 on a Halloween costume, while women splash out £67.80 – more than double.
- More than a third of people buy Halloween costumes from supermarkets – only one in ten go to an independent fancy dress shop.
- In the USA adults spend $1.5 billion on Halloween costumes, while for children it’s around $1.2 billion.
- Three in four people dress up their pets for Halloween.
- Halloween pet costumes account for 15% of all Halloween costume spending – around $490 million in the US alone.
- Spending on Halloween costumes is the largest amount of all Halloween purchases (more than decorations, food and drink).
- People aged between 35 and 44 spend the most on Halloween costumes (including purchases for their children), followed by those aged 25 to 34, then 45 to 54-year-olds.
What happens to Halloween costumes in landfill?
Most Halloween costumes thrown away in the UK contain non-recyclable, oil-based plastics – meaning when they’re thrown away, they go to landfill or for incineration. In total this adds up to around 2,000 tons of plastic waste – similar to 83 million plastic bottles being dumped in a landfill site.
The plastic materials of Halloween costumes can take tens to hundreds of years to break down when they sit in landfill – often between 50 and 600 years. For example, 63% of Halloween costumes contain polyester. This is a type of plastic derived from petroleum, which takes between 20 and 200 years to decompose.
As these costumes sit in landfill for many years, the chemicals in the plastics can leach and spread into the surrounding groundwater, soil, and air – contaminating nearby water sources. While the costumes decompose, they contribute to the methane gas landfills release. This is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes massively to global warming.
Some Halloween costumes disposed of with your general waste may be incinerated. This can generate heat and energy, and avoids taking up space in landfill. However, burning plastics still releases toxic gases including dioxins, furans, mercury, and BCPs that threaten human, animal, and environmental health.
How to source low waste Halloween costumes
To cut down on Halloween costume waste, there are other ways to get a petrifying outfit rather than buying brand new. Consider these methods to source a low or zero waste Halloween costume:
- Visit charity shops – second-hand stores and charity shops sell all sorts of clothing you can use to create your own scary outfit. Many also sell preloved Halloween costumes donated by others, for a cheaper and more sustainable choice. Try eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Gumtree for affordable second-hand Halloween costumes too.
- Borrow from a friend – seen someone you know in a fantastic costume? Ask friends and family if you can use it – after all, it’s likely only for one day. You can even repay the favour by lending them your old costume in return.
- Hire a costume – renting a Halloween costume ensures you get a high-quality outfit for an affordable price, and it’ll get used again (after a wash) rather than going in the bin.
- Go DIY – search your wardrobes, drawers, and cupboards for clothes and items to create your own costume. This adds real charm and ensures you’ll be in a totally unique outfit, which you can dismantle and use later.
- Repurpose last year’s – last Halloween was a year ago. Nobody will remember what you went as, so why not just reuse the same costume? Or find a way to turn it into a different character and extend its life.
Zero waste Halloween costume ideas
As long as you don’t throw away anything after wearing your spooky outfit, you’ve got a zero waste Halloween costume. The easiest way to create one is using items you already own that you can clean down after making your costume and reuse. Find inspiration for zero waste Halloween costumes with these ideas:
- Ghost – all you need for this classic costume is a white sheet, dress, or loose white clothing. Rather than ruining a good sheet by cutting two eyeholes in it, stick a pair of sunglasses over the front for a cool ghost. Plus, you still have a usable bedsheet (just it might need a wash).
- Ninja – plain black clothes are all you need to transform into a ninja. A black hoodie and trousers, long black dress or shirt with an additional balaclava, scarf, or bandana for your head can quickly turn you into a deadly assassin.
- Bank robber – what’s scarier than losing all your money? Spending it all on a costume that ends up in landfill. Instead, throw on a striped t-shirt, beanie, and draw on (or grow) some stubble to create an effective criminal costume.
- Skeleton – get a black t-shirt and sweatpants for the base, then draw on bones with white chalk. This should brush off and wash out afterwards, so your clothes won’t be ruined.
- Dracula – unless you’ve got a cape lying about already, fashion one from a small black sheet, towel, or piece of fabric. Wear a smart white shirt underneath and pop on a bowtie to complete the look.
- Clown – you might need to buy a wig, but otherwise mix any brightly coloured clothes then paint your face white with a red nose to become a cheap and cheerful clown (or a sinister one if that’s more your style).
How to dispose of old Halloween costumes
Eventually the life of your Halloween costume may come to an end if it gets damaged, worn out, or you simply have no space for it. The best thing to do is give it to a friend or family member. Or you could donate to a charity shop or sell/give it away for free online through eBay or Facebook Marketplace.
Whatever you do, don’t throw away a Halloween costume with general waste, as it’ll end up in landfill or incineration. Another more environmentally friendly option is to send your old costume for textile recycling. Here the fabrics can be stripped down and reused, while any other materials will be sent for recycling and proper disposal.
Contact us if you have old Halloween costumes you want to recycle or have any questions about the process.
As Halloween creeps closer once again, the excess waste we create celebrating spooky season starts to increase. Every year in the UK we spend a scary £300 million on Halloween – for costumes, decorations, food and drink. A terrifying amount of these items are thrown away and end up in landfill.
Cutting down on waste by recycling and making small changes means you can still have a fun and frightful Halloween while protecting the environment. There are all sorts of low and zero waste Halloween ideas available whether you’re decorating your home, throwing a party, or just taking the kids trick-or-treating.
Use these tips and tricks for a waste free Halloween this year.
Low waste Halloween costumes
According to The Fairyland Trust, 79% of kids dress up for Halloween every year in the UK (as do plenty of adults). Frighteningly though, about seven million Halloween costumes are binned each year and four in ten costumes are only worn once. Sadly, most of these creepy costumes end up in landfill.
Rather than joining in with the fast fashion trend and buying a brand-new costume, consider these zero waste Halloween ideas for you or your children’s costumes:
- Hire a costume – if you really want to petrify people or have a specific character in mind, hire rather than buy a Halloween costume. This saves you money and means it’ll be reused rather than binned or sit in a cupboard for years.
- Make your own – check your wardrobe for inspiration and see what you own already that can be used or adapted into a costume for you or your kids. Sheets, jackets, sweatshirts, and more can transform into simple yet scary DIY costumes like ghosts, animals, and zombies. Plus, you can dismantle them to wear/use as normal after – leaving no waste.
- Buy a second-hand one – charity shops are great for finding items to create your own costume, but many sell complete Halloween costumes once worn by someone else. This is a sustainable choice, just check it fits and give it a wash before wearing.
- Recycle your costume – if you must get rid of your old costume, when moving house or if it no longer fits, there are green options. Donate to a charity shop or send it for textile recycling, so the materials will be reused.
Zero waste Halloween decorations
Just over 2,000 tonnes of extra plastic waste are created every Halloween in the UK. While costumes are the main cause, the other main culprit is Halloween decorations – from lights to plastic and inflatable characters around your garden and home. Most of these are put up once, then binned when November rolls around.
Zero waste Halloween décor helps cut the amount of rubbish produced. Reusing any plastic Halloween decorations you already have and keeping them for future years is ideal. Most of them last for ages, which means you don’t need to buy any more, reducing the demand and avoiding creating extra plastic waste.
Other ideas for zero waste Halloween décor include:
- Making your own zero waste Halloween decorations from old sheets, clothes, and fabric. Easily turn these into ghosts to hang around the house with a bit of creativity.
- Using cardboard boxes, used kitchen rolls, and plastic bottles to create spooky animals such as bats and spiders. When Halloween is over you can simply recycle these materials as normal.
- Buying eco-friendly Halloween decorations that are recyclable – such as paper bunting, signs, and lanterns.
- Create tin can lanterns by punching small holes in the side of a clean and empty food can in the shape of your chosen Halloween character. Then pop in a tea light and place in a safe space for a spooky effect. You can always recycle the can later.
- Spread dry leaves from outside on the floor and surfaces to create an autumnal aesthetic, which you can sweep away and compost at the end.
Waste free Halloween treats
Sweets and treats are Halloween staples, whether you’re handing them out to trick-or-treaters or have them in a bowl at your party. However, most Halloween sweet wrappers are made from types of plastic that aren’t recyclable. These include metallised plastic film (that looks like foil), combinations of plastic and foil (that can’t be separated) or plastics that are too low quality to recycle.
Choose sweets that come in recyclable packaging when preparing for trick-or-treaters. Waste free Halloween treats can include chocolate and sweets wrapped in paper or cardboard, as these are more likely to be recyclable. Most will say on the side whether the packaging can be recycled or not.
Other ideas for waste free Halloween treats include:
- Home baking – if you’ve got the time, skills, and desire, why not bake your own Halloween cookies or cakes? Split these up into even portions and hand them out from a tin so there’s no packaging required.
- Glass jar sweets – buy a traditional big sweet jar full of Halloween treats that aren’t individually wrapped to reduce packaging. Plus, glass recycling is a lot easier than plastic – or you can reuse the jar in the future.
- Healthy snacks – fruit normally has less packaging and any waste is compostable, while some healthy crisps and treats may be in recyclable packets.
No waste tricks
Every Halloween party needs some ghoulish games, whether it’s for kids or adults. Most traditional Halloween tricks and games are low or zero waste anyway, such as apple bobbing and scary scavenger hunts. There are plenty more waste-free Halloween tricks you can add to spice up any party, such as:
- Spooky bean bag toss – a terrifying twist on traditional bean bag toss. Decorate some old tin cans or plastic cups with Halloween characters, stack them up, and see who can knock the most down in three tries. You can always recycle the cans or plastic cups afterwards too.
- Stringed up doughnuts – hang up a washing line inside or outside and attach a few doughnuts. Participants must eat one doughnut each without using their hands – fastest to finish wins. Plus, it shouldn’t leave any food waste behind.
- Best dressed Mummy – teams of two or more use toilet roll to wrap someone up like a Mummy with a prize for the best one done within a time limit. All the toilet roll paper should be collected at the end and wrapped up to use or sent for paper recycling.
Pumpkins and party food
A petrifying 14.5 million pumpkins are thrown away in the UK around Halloween every year. They’re often carved up and discarded in a few days, leaving waste companies to deal with a big influx at once. But there are various ways you can cook and eat them to avoid adding to food waste.
Roast pumpkin seeds as a healthy snack, make pumpkin soup, or bake a sweet pumpkin cake (a terrifying take on traditional carrot cake). These all make great options when preparing party food for Halloween or Bonfire night just a few days later.
Try and buy sweet and savoury food in recyclable packaging when planning your Halloween party. Cooking yourself or asking friends to bring a dish or two also reduces packaging. Avoid using plastic disposable cups, cutlery, and plates too – as these can be tricky to recycle – even if the spooky designs fit the theme.
Recycle your Hallowaste
Waste is unavoidable in some cases at Halloween but recycling as much as possible can minimise the environmental impact of your frightening fun. Having recycling bins for paper, cardboard, and dry mixed recycling in high traffic areas that are easily accessible should encourage staff and guests to recycle as much rubbish as possible.
Whether you’re having a Halloween party at work, home, or just decorating the office for spooky season, we can sort you out with the right recycling bins. Contact us today for a free quote for your waste collections.
Around half a million fans head to Wimbledon each year for 13 days of dramatic tennis action. During that time thousands of tons of waste are produced – from food and drink, to packaging, tennis strings, balls, and more. It’s enough to give nearby neighbours The Wombles plenty of work for another year.
Changes have been made over recent years to significantly cut the amount of waste generated and ensure as much as possible is recycled. But is Wimbledon really as green as its grass courts?
Discover how and why Wimbledon started to ace its waste reduction and sustainability aims.
Setting sustainability targets
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) – which organises Wimbledon – set out a ten-year sustainability plan for the championships in 2020. In its own words, this is for Wimbledon:
“To act as a force for good, delivering a positive and sustainable impact on our economy, society and the environment in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
Wimbledon’s updated sustainability policy outlines four key aims, two of which relate to reducing waste by:
- Reducing emissions from its operations to ‘net zero’ by 2030
- Being a resource-efficient organisation by 2030
No love for waste
As set out in its sustainability plan, the end goal for Wimbledon is ‘to design out waste, keeping products in use so nothing goes to waste.’ Reducing resources, increasing recycling and reuse of waste are how it aims to achieve this.
Wimbledon doesn’t publicly publish its waste and recycling figures or have any specific waste reduction targets available to the public. However, in 2018, 2019, and 2021 it achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status and claims none of the waste generated from day-to-day business or the championships end up in landfill.
One of the ways it’s achieved this is by separating recyclable and general waste. While glass, paper, dry mixed recycling, and other types of recyclable rubbish was sent to be reused, general waste was collected and used to generate electricity for the National Grid. In 2019 this was enough to power 112 homes for a month.
That’s a lot better than it all ending up in landfill and adding to pollution problems. The same is true for the garden waste produced, which is used to create mulch for use around the grounds of Wimbledon too.
More than a match for food and drink waste
You’ve probably seen all the stats trotted out every year about how much food and drink are consumed at Wimbledon:
- 320,000 glasses of Pimms
- 190,000 sandwiches
- 166,000 portions of strawberries and cream
- 110,000 scones
- 75,000 ice creams
- 32,000 portions of fish and chips
- 28,000 bottles of champagne
- 25,000 pizzas
Sadly, not all this food and drink is consumed. But how much of it is wasted? There are no official statistics released by Wimbledon about its food waste. However, figures from 2015 show that 28 tons of food waste produced were recycled – that’s the same weight as four adult elephants.
The good news is food waste at Wimbledon is collected for anaerobic digestion. This means it’s used to produce high quality fertiliser for agriculture and horticulture purposes. Learn more about anaerobic digestion
Wimbledon has also partnered with City Harvest – a food redistribution platform. It works with 300 organisations to distribute in-date food leftover from Wimbledon to charities and community organisations across London, such as soup kitchens and women’s refuge centres.
Volleying away plastic and packaging
All that food and drink uses a lot of plastic cups, glasses, containers, and packaging. Wimbledon has made some significant changes in recent years to try and ensure as much as possible is reusable and avoid any going to landfill. These changes include:
- Handing out cold drinks in reusable, rigid plastic cups – not disposables. Fans should return them to dedicated points for washing.
- No plastic straws are available anywhere at Wimbledon.
- For the early risers or those trying to stay awake through a mammoth five-set thriller, the 330,000 coffee cups used each year are also recyclable.
- Strawberries and cream are served in plastic-free cardboard boxes. These are completely recyclable and made using 100% certified card.
- In 2021 Wimbledon got rid of plastic liners for food trays for the first time.
Players play their part
On court there have also been recent changes for the players to try and make Wimbledon as green as the grass they play on. Stringer’s plastic bags that protect newly strung rackets were removed, while all used racket strings are now collected and sent for recycling. In 2022 there’s also a returns process for staff uniforms to avoid clothes waste going to landfill.
One area that’s less green is the use of water bottles by players. It’s mainly due to sponsorship and, while they’re made from 100% recycled materials, for players that take in a lot of fluids during a match, larger reusable bottles surely make more sense.
No new balls please
More than 50,000 tennis balls are used each year at Wimbledon. Why so many? They’re changed every nine games, so players don’t use flat, damaged balls. This means a lot of partly used tennis balls are no longer needed at the championships again.
Thankfully, they’re not thrown away – as tennis balls don’t really biodegrade and contain various chemicals that could leach into nearby water and ground if sent to landfill. Instead, they’re sold at the used ball kiosk so fans can take home a souvenir and reuse them.
In 2001 they were even donated to the wildlife trust in Avon, Glamorgan and Northumberland, to use as nests to protect endangered harvest mice from predators.
Building a greener future
One area where work still needs to be done is with construction. While Wimbledon impressively claims it diverts more than 95% of major project construction waste from landfill, some such waste that may be reusable still ends up underground. With proposals for the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project at the consultation stage, this is a key area.
Wimbledon claims to have achieved a 95% waste diversion from landfill rate in this area but is working to update design requirements for estate development projects. This should improve recyclability and see Wimbledon procure more recycled materials.
Wimbledon has also set itself future waste reduction targets, including to:
- Introduce water harvesting for new developments
- Design reusable or recyclable products using renewable, recyclable materials
- Work with suppliers to eliminate single-use plastic packaging
- Introduce on-site composting for grass and garden cuttings
Hopefully Wimbledon will smash these targets to eliminate waste entirely from its annual championships.
Waste collection in Wimbledon and the UK
Our waste collection services cover everywhere from Wimbledon to Whitby. Whatever type of waste you need removing and recycling, call us on 0800 211 8390 or complete our free quote form below to get started.