New commercial food waste legislation in the UK will be in place from the end of March 2025. It means that from this date most businesses will have to separate food waste from other rubbish streams. Companies must store food waste in separate bins and arrange collection by licensed waste carriers.

These are part of Defra’s simpler recycling plans that aim to improve recycling rates, simplify waste management, and benefit the environment. Mandatory food waste separation should ensure less waste food makes its way to landfill sites and is instead disposed of responsibly.

At Business Waste we can help companies of any industry and size anywhere in the UK arrange separate food waste collections. Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online today for a free quote to prepare for the new food waste law. Keep reading to find out more about the changes to food waste legislation in the UK.

man pouring waste vegetables into a bin.

What is the new food waste 
legislation in the UK?

The new food waste legislation in the UK is part of a legal statutory instrument to standardise recycling across England. This is the Environment Act 2021 (Commencement No. 9 and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2024. It focuses on changing waste separation and collection requirements for domestic and non-domestic premises, which includes most businesses having to arrange separate food waste collections.

Any business in England that produces more than 5kg of food waste per week must arrange separate collection by licensed waste carriers. This includes any biodegradable materials produced from processing or preparing food – including inedible parts like bones, eggshells, fruit and vegetable skins, tea bags, and coffee grounds.

According to the official government response, the preference is for food waste collected to go for anaerobic digestion treatment. This is because it generates biofuel and digestate from unavoidable waste food. The biofuel can be used for energy while digestate is spread on land to recycle nutrients to help form a circular economy.

When does the new food waste 
law come into effect?

The new food waste law requiring businesses to separate waste food comes into effect on 31 March 2025 in the UK. This includes for public and third-sector organisations like schools, prisons, and hospitals. For micro businesses (firms with fewer than 10 full-time employees), they must comply with the new food waste law by 31 March 2027.

Who must comply with the 
new food waste regulation?

Mandatory food waste separation will apply to all non-domestic properties in England that produce more than 5kg of food waste a week, under the new regulation. This covers all businesses, prisons, hospitals, care homes, offices, schools, garages, and transport hubs. It’s especially relevant for restaurants, cafes, pubs, takeaways, bakeries, and butchers.

Micro businesses will be exempt from the new food waste regulation. That means any firm with fewer than ten full-time employees can still dispose of food scraps and leftovers in general waste bins. However, separating food waste is advisable where possible for companies of any size and industry.

It’s much better for the environment for waste food to be composted or sent to an anaerobic digestion plant rather than going to landfill or for incineration. These options create natural fertilisers and biogas that can be used as an energy source. Plus, your business will pay less landfill tax as part of your waste management costs by separating food waste.

trays of baked goods in a bakery.

Why is UK food waste 
legislation changing?

The UK government aims to eliminate food waste to landfill by 2030. It’s hoped that this new legislation can drive England towards that target, as it also covers changes for food waste collections from homes. Wales and Scotland already have their own food waste legislation in place, which this aims to replicate for England.

Every year more than 9.5 million tonnes of food waste are thrown away in the UK. A huge amount of this isn’t recovered or recycled and ends up rotting in landfills, adding to carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. Sending food waste to landfill can cost more than £100 per tonne, so it’s an expensive business too.

Find more food waste facts

How to prepare for the new commercial 
food waste legislation in the UK

If you run any kind of business in England that creates more than 5kg of food waste per week then you should start to prepare for the new commercial food waste regulation. You must have arranged separate storage and collection of food waste by 31st March 2025.

At Business Waste we can help you prepare for these changes and comply with the new regulation. Save money with free food waste bins for your business anywhere in the UK – you only pay for the collection costs. There are no rental or delivery fees. Our expert team can answer your questions and determine the best solution for your organisation.

Follow these steps to prepare for the commercial food waste legislation changes in England:

  • Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online for a free no-obligation quote tailored to your needs
  • Tell us the size and number of bins you need (or a rough estimate of how much waste food your organisation creates each day or week)
  • Let us know or we can advise on whether you need daily, weekly, or fortnightly waste collections for a cost-effective solution
  • We’ll provide your free tailored quote based on your exact needs
  • Then we’ll deliver your free bins for you to fill with food waste and arrange for their removal at the agreed times and dates – you only pay for the collection

Contact Business Waste today to arrange your commercial food waste collections.

What are the changes for household 
food waste collections?

From 31 March 2026, all households in England should receive food waste collections at least once a week. Local authorities and councils are responsible for arranging this in their areas. Households will likely be provided with a small bin or box to separate food waste from general waste and dry recycling.

The domestic food waste should then be taken to an anaerobic digestion or composting site. This aims to reduce the amount of organic waste making its way to landfill. Your local council should be in touch about the details and timelines for these changes.

One Third of Brits Will Stay Longer
at a Sustainable Company

A recent survey conducted by OnePoll looked at companies’ actual commitments for carbon offsetting initiatives.

The study participants included business owners and company employees, revealing unexpected findings about corporate environmental practices.

72% of young adults
Want to work at sustainable companies

A recent survey conducted by OnePoll looked at companies’ actual commitments for carbon offsetting initiatives.

The study participants included business owners and company employees, revealing unexpected findings about corporate environmental practices.

Environmental Accreditation

A surprising 66% of respondents said they aren’t aware of their company having any environmental accreditation, such as an Environmental Management System, Leadership in Energy, and Environmental Design. This lack of accreditation suggests that many businesses aren’t as engaged with sustainable practices as expected.

Environmental Practices

The study delved into a few standard environmental practices, such as recycling, waste reduction strategies, and cycle-to-work schemes. The results were quite disheartening – a third of all UK businesses haven’t adopted any of these common practices. Less than one in five companies promoted cycle-to-work schemes, and more than three quarters (77%) don’t have an established recycling facility on site.

When compared with Australia and the US, the UK scored the lowest for working with third parties and consultants to measure their environmental impact and build a decarbonisation strategy.

Workforce Impact

Employee respondents were also questioned on how important sustainability benefits are when it comes to looking at the overall package offered by employers. A huge 72% of young adults (18-24 years old) said that it’s important! Moreover, a third of the British public said they’re more likely to stay in a company that cares about sustainability and has initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint.

Mark Hall, sustainability expert and co-founder of waste management company BusinessWaste.co.uk, comments: “We were frankly very surprised to find out some of these statistics. In a world where we’ve got advocates for sustainability left, right, and centre, with companies trying as hard as possible to shout out about every little ‘green’ practice, to see that 66% don’t even have an accreditation of any sort is shocking.”

Hall also highlighted the low implementation of waste reduction strategies, which only 16% of UK companies have adopted. He emphasised that these strategies are not difficult to put in place and can make a real difference.

He continues: “Seeing that sustainability efforts from companies are important to employees, however, makes me hopeful that it might lead to some change.”

Business waste logo and photo of a bin

Sustainable Company

The study participants included business owners and company employees, revealing unexpected findings about corporate environmental practices.

A digital product passport (DPP) is a label, QR code, or scannable chip that displays information about the item’s environmental impact, composition, production, and history. The DPP helps track each stage of the product’s journey from its beginning to what’s in front of you. It shows what it’s made of, where the materials came from, and its carbon footprint.

But what does this have to do with waste management? Well, the use of a digital product passport in the UK for various items is important to improve the sustainability, recyclability, and recovery of products. It could help prevent many products from making their way to landfills and reduce wasteful practices.

Discover everything you need to know about what digital product passports are, how they work, what businesses and customers should understand about them, and the sustainable benefits they could introduce.

digital product passport QR code in tongue of a shoe.

What are digital product passports?

Digital product passports are digital records that show information about the value chain of an item. This includes materials used to make it, where it was produced, the environmental impact of it, and recommended disposal and recycling routes. Digital product passports aim to provide reliable data on the product journey.

They should improve the transparency about specific products so consumers, investors, and businesses can trace the sustainability of products with a DPP. Information about the unique identity of a product is linked via a QR code, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip, or scannable label.

Users simply scan this with a smartphone and are directed towards the digital product passport to see this data. Then they can assess the product’s journey from start to finish and decide whether it aligns with their sustainability desires. The information may also help people dispose of it properly by explaining if it’s recyclable and recommendations for the end of its life.

Digital product passport requirements

Various bits of data are covered with the digital product passport requirements. It should show where the product came from, what it contains, and other information about its sustainability. Digital product passport requirements include information about the item’s:

  • General data – information about the product weight and volume, the product ID, batch, and reference numbers, where and when it was produced, and manufacturer operating ID. This proves the item’s authenticity to help consumers avoid forgeries.
  • Origin – the source of raw materials and components used in the product, information about any recycled or recovered materials used to create it, sustainability credentials for the manufacturing or production processes, and locations of where everything within the product came from as well as manufacturing locations.
  • Carbon footprint – details about the carbon footprint of the product such as its estimated waste output, lifecycle, expected lifespan and usage. Energy, emissions, water, and raw materials used in the production process should be present, which shows resource consumption and the rough environmental impact of the item.
  • Documentation – the warranty, service, insurance, and guarantee documentation can be stored digitally. Expiry and repurchase data also help the buyer see its product history and check any potential claims.
  • Maintenance – any repairs that have happened to the product. This includes what the repairs were, where they occurred and when, the cost, and why the repairs were required.
  • Ownership – current and previous of the product, including the length of time. This is important for clothing and textiles that are resold.
  • Instructions – important instructions about disassembly, recycling, end-of-life, and disposal. Any procedures about ways to repair, refurbish, upgrade, or reuse the product also help extend the product’s life and ensure it’s disposed of properly for improved circularity.
people working in a clothes factory.

Digital product passport 
examples and future uses

There are some existing digital product passport examples already in use by certain manufacturers and plenty of scope for future applications. The clothing and textiles industry is adopting them, especially sustainable fashion brands. Scannable labels or QR codes on labels display information about the item’s production, carbon footprint, and care guidelines.

This helps to inform buyers looking for ethical and sustainable clothing, provides full transparency about where the item has come from, and provides maintenance information to help prolong its life. The use of DPPs is expected to grow quickly in the coming years for the clothing industry given the focus on the huge amounts of fashion waste generated annually.

Digital product passports are also being used for many other items, from car batteries to food products and more. Here are some current and possible future examples of uses of digital product passports:

  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Electrical vehicle batteries
  • Mattresses
  • Textiles
  • Building materials

What are the sustainable benefits 
of a digital product passport?

A digital product passport drives transparency and accountability for everything that goes into producing an item. Potential buyers seeking sustainable products can assess and compare options with greater trust and choose the one with the lowest carbon footprint, local materials, or least energy consumption. Manufacturers can’t hide and this places more of an impetus for them to create truly sustainable products.

The design stage determines 80% of a product’s environmental impact. Highlighting the production cycle of a product with a DPP could encourage manufacturers to work towards more sustainable designs, especially if potential buyers are put off by what a DPP shows them. Insight into the materials from a DPP helps designers create more durable items.

Knowledge is power. The more people understand where things they use come from and how much energy it takes to produce them, the less likely people are to discard them without a second thought. Using a digital product passport removes the opaque and vagueness of many supply chains and passes on more power to buyers/customers to make truly sustainable purchase choices.

For manufacturers a product passport also helps improve their environmental impact. A clear digital record of a product’s value chain provides full visibility and highlights any opportunities to optimise processes to improve sustainability. This also assist with ensuring companies comply with relevant environmental standards and regulations.

Who uses DPPs?

A product passport isn’t just for buyers browsing the rails in a clothes shop. They’re useful for different people from the start to the end of a product’s life. These are the three main stages and people that use a DPP in different ways that help improve sustainability:

  • Manufacturers – the growing use of DPPs means more manufacturers are applying them to items. It helps make the supply chain more transparent, assess ways they can improve design, and build trust with customers. As more customers start to expect or demand a product passport it encourages more manufacturers to develop and provide them.
  • Consumers – buyers, customers, and consumers scan DPPs to see relevant information about the product to inform their purchasing decisions. This includes buying personal goods like food and clothes as well as business items such as building materials or office furniture. They also use the DPP to follow guidance around usage, maintenance, care, repairs, and waste disposal.
  • Recyclers – at the end of a product’s life it must be disposed of properly to ensure circularity. The DPP should include information for consumers about how to dispose of it sustainably. This should also inform recyclers of what to do to recycle and recover the product with a breakdown of the materials and components, alongside important information that avoids waste going to landfill.
woman browsing clothes on a rail in a shop.

What are the digital product passport regulations?

Currently, there’s no digital product passport regulation in the UK. It’s therefore up to manufacturers whether they use DPPs for their products or not. However, in the EU it’s expected that digital product legislation will be introduced after a provisional agreement between the European Parliament and the European Council.

This was for the introduction of the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). Digital product passports are a key feature of the ESPR, and the new rules will apply to all products on the EU market, regardless of whether they are produced inside or outside the EU.

Digital product regulation is anticipated to be adopted and mandated by the EU between 2026 and 2030 as part of the ESPR. It will apply to all 27 EU countries and looks to prioritise products with a high environmental impact and potential to improve. This includes textiles, furniture, chemicals, batteries, consumer electronics and devices, and construction products.

Under this new digital product legislation it means from 2027 industrial and electric vehicle batteries will have mandatory DPPs across the EU. It’s expected that from 2030 other products like textiles may require a mandatory digital product passport. The exact digital product passport requirements under the EU’s new regulations are still being worked out.

Whether digital product passport regulation will be introduced in the UK remains to be seen. However, if more products across the continent and the wider world start using them then expect to see DPPs on clothes, furniture, electronics, and other items in the future.

More help about waste regulations

Flying is often the biggest contributor to many of our personal carbon footprints. About 2.4% of global CO2 emissions are from the aviation industry, which may not sound as much as you might expect. However, including the gases and water vapour trails aircraft produce means flights are responsible for around 5% of global warming.

The obvious solution is to simply not fly to eliminate these carbon emissions. That’s not realistic for many people who fly for work, to visit friends and family, and to enjoy a well-deserved holiday somewhere warmer than the UK. Instead, more of us aim to offset the carbon emissions from flying in other ways.

Unless you’re an engineer working on fuel efficiency improvements for aircraft, the best way you can have a positive environmental impact is by thinking about how you fly. It’s not just the aeroplane that contributes to carbon footprints when flying. Use the following expert tips to have a low-waste flight the next time you take to the skies.

aeroplane flying through the sky.

Prepare for your flight

Reducing waste when flying starts well before you get on board the aeroplane. With a little bit of preparation, you can eliminate and minimise small amounts of waste for your journey. These are a few easy ways to prepare for a low-waste flight:

  • Download your boarding pass – save paper by downloading your boarding pass onto your smartphone. Most airlines have their own apps, and you can save the boarding pass to your phone for use offline (or take a screenshot to be safe). Check this is fine, as some airlines and airports do require you to print your boarding pass.
  • Buy a reusable transparent toiletry bag – save plastic and stress with a reusable clear toiletry bag. Most of the thin plastic zip-lock bags at airports for your liquids are used once and then binned, often going to landfill or being incinerated. Buy a reusable transparent plastic toiletry bag that you can pack at home, so you’re prepared, and you can use it for multiple flights. It’s a great way to reduce plastic waste.
  • Purchase a sustainable suitcase – get a suitcase or travel bag that’s built to last and ideally one made from recycled materials. It won’t completely offset the carbon footprint of your flight, but it goes a little way.
  • Create a zero-waste flight kit – prepare for the airport and your flight by putting together a zero-waste kit. Pack an empty reusable water bottle to fill up at a water fountain in the airport to eliminate buying a plastic water bottle. Take a travel mug and ask for any hot drinks to be poured into it rather than being handed a disposable coffee cup. Cloth handkerchiefs and napkins, reusable plastic cutlery, and low-waste toiletries like bars of soap and shampoo and a bamboo toothbrush are other sustainable ideas.
  • Pack some snacks – reduce the temptation to buy packaged food and drinks at the airport or on your flight by making some sandwiches, snacks, and sweet treats at home. Wrap them in foil that could be recycled or pack them in reusable Tupperware or old margarine tubs that you’ll reuse. You might find them handy for storage when you’re away too.
suitcase in an airport.

Getting to the airport

Think about how you’ll get to the airport. Driving is quick and convenient when you’ve got some big bags and suitcases, but it also adds to your carbon footprint. If you’re only going away for a long weekend or just have carry-on baggage, catching a train is much more efficient.

In some cases, taking the train can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 80% compared to driving. Plus, you don’t have to pay for expensive parking at the airport. Using airport bus services is also more environmentally friendly and cheaper than driving yourself as the carbon footprint is spread among more people.

At the airport

Before boarding your flight you’ll likely have a couple of hours to kill in the airport (assuming you arrive early enough). Sitting around with little to do is when temptations that create waste can arise. Follow these steps to avoid doing anything that results in avoidable waste:

  • Avoid duty-free – lots of items sold in airport duty-free shops come in tamper-proof plastic bags. This is to protect them but creates additional plastic packaging waste that you wouldn’t get in most other shops. Resist the temptation to save a couple of quid and walk fast past duty-free.
  • Eat and drink in – forgot your sandwiches? When you’ve got time it’s best to eat in at one of the restaurants, cafes, or fast food joints in an airport rather than buying food for the plane. This avoids excess packaging waste from snacks and sandwiches you’ll throw away on the flight. Having a pint or soft drink in one of the bars also eliminates glass or plastic waste as it should be served in a glass that’s washed and reused. Sustainable and refreshing!
  • Refill water bottles – all airports should have free water fountains. Rather than buying bottled water take an empty reusable bottle with you and fill it up before you board. You can’t take full bottles through security but should be fine to bring along an empty one.
  • Washroom etiquette – use hand dryers rather than paper towels when drying your hands in airport bathrooms.
  • Use recycling bins – if your stomach won’t stop rumbling and you must buy some packaged food or drink items in the airport at least dispose of them responsibly. There should be recycling bins in the airport where you can easily recycle empty drinks cans, cardboard packaging, and bits of paper.
people eating at an airport cafe.

On the flight

The Aviation Sustainability Forum (ASF) Audits estimates that flying produces 3,600,000 tonnes of cabin and catering waste each year. This includes everything from leftover food scraps, drinks cans and bottles, snack wrappers, and other bits of packaging. Unfortunately, it often all gets thrown away together and not recycled after landing.

The easiest way to avoid waste on a flight is to simply not buy anything onboard. Bring your own food and drink where possible and take away any recyclable rubbish, such as plastic bottles and empty drink cans. You can put them in a recycling bin at the airport your hotel, or when you get home.

Explore more ways to reduce waste with expert guides

Don’t chuck them in the bin bags the flight attendants bring down the aisle unless there’s a separate recycling bag. Work to improve cabin recycling options is ongoing, so hopefully soon all the recyclable rubbish produced on flights will be disposed of sustainably. In the meantime, avoid using these bin bags.

For long-haul flights that offer headphones, you should take your own. This is an easy way to reduce electronics waste, as otherwise the ones provided by the airline get binned after landing. And are you really going to use the cheap headphones provided by the airline again?

Does your business produce lots of dry waste such as cardboard and paper, general waste, or dry mixed recycling? If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution for affordable commercial waste management in the UK then you might consider a front or rear end loader bin. Storing more waste can reduce how many collections you need and cut your waste management costs.

Front and rear end loaders are both big static metal containers, similar in size and shape to a skip. However, they’re generally more secure than skips as they each have a roof and lockable lids. They’re placed in a set position on your site and specialist lifting equipment empties and removes them.

You can use either a front or rear end loader to store a range of dry waste types but not glass, liquid, or hazardous waste. While rear and front end loader bins are cut from the same cloth there are some important differences between the two. Work out which is best for your business below.

rear end loader graphic.

What’s the difference between 
front and rear end loader bins?

The main difference between front and rear end loader bins are their sizes and shapes. They both come in different sizes, but generally, rear end loaders are larger waste containers. For example, a 10-yard front end loader can hold around 80 bags of waste while a 10-yard rear end loader has the capacity for up to 100 bags of waste.

It’s the shape that affects their capacity. This also impacts how you access these skips to throw away bags of waste. With a front end loader, you simply lift the lid and drop in your waste like a big wheelie bin. The lids of some FELs are split into two panels or there may be a panel on the side you slide across for access.

With a rear end loader, access is at the back. Their shape is more like a traditional skip with a lid that you lift from the back to drop in waste. It’s normally a slanting lid that you pull up while the top of the bin has a metal roof or plastic panel covering it to protect contents from rain and theft.

There are benefits to using either waste container, the right one depends on your company’s waste management needs.

front end loader with lid open.

Reasons to use a front end loader

The main reasons to consider a front end loader rather than a rear end loader bin are:

  • Need less space – front end loaders are smaller and have more of a cuboid shape compared to their rear end alternatives. This makes it easier to slot into tighter areas for businesses where space on-site is limited.
  • Easy to access – the shape and simple lid are light and easy for most people to lift when throwing away waste. They can be placed in a position to ensure access is good for everyone who uses the bin.
  • Slightly cheaper – as front end loaders are generally smaller than rear end loaders they can be cheaper to use. This includes any purchase, hire, rental, and collection costs.
Explore our front end loaders

Reasons to use a rear end loader

The main reasons to consider a rear end loader rather than a front end loader bin are:

  • Large capacity – rear end loaders can hold more waste than their front end siblings with capacities up to 12,600 litres (around 160 bags of waste). This makes them best for businesses that create large volumes of dry waste and have space for such containers.
  • Fewer collections – with a bigger storage space for your dry waste you can arrange less frequent collections and emptying of a rear end loader. This can save your business money on its waste management costs.
  • Quick and easy to empty – the design of rear end loaders means specialist lifting equipment can easily raise them up and empty into the truck. Waste removal is quick and simple as long as there’s clear access for the truck.
Explore our rear end loaders

Get FREE front and rear end loaders 
with Business Waste

At Business Waste we provide free bins to our customers, including front and rear end loaders. There are no rental, hire, or delivery fees – you only pay for collection. This offers a cost-effective way to store, remove, and dispose of all sorts of dry waste from your business.

Prices vary depending on the type and size of container you use, your location, and how often you want them collected and emptied. Get a free no-obligation quote for a front or rear end loader for your business – call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online.

Starting a zero waste shop is a growing trend that can benefit the environment and local community, and turn a profit. There are around 200 zero waste shops in the UK. Many of these popped up over the past few years and have become popular, successful, and inspirational to others.

Research suggests just over two-thirds of consumers claim to be zero waste advocates, so now could be the time to fill a gap in the market. Most zero waste stores aim to eliminate or significantly reduce packaging and generate as little waste as possible through their operations. It’s all about sustainability from start to finish.

The growing trend for zero waste shops that sell all sorts of goods means now could be the prime time to open one up. There are many things to consider before opening any business and you should seek professional advice before you start. Use the following tips for a rough idea of how to start a zero waste shop.

woman working in a zero waste shop.

What is a zero waste shop?

A zero waste shop is a store that sells goods and operates sustainably. They sell loose produce to eliminate packaging with customers using their own refillable containers. Many goods are charged by weight or units. Zero waste shops don’t provide plastic bags either, so customers must bring a reusable one.

They will have a destination for excess and expired stock, so it doesn’t go to waste. This could be donating goods to a local food bank or out-of-date food to a nearby animal shelter or farm. Any zero waste shop aims to minimise waste from how the store is run and from consumer activities.

Things to consider before 
setting up a zero waste shop

Setting up a zero waste shop is a great idea when there’s a clear opportunity. It can help reduce packaging waste, offer a more sustainable retail experience, and be a successful business. However, opening a shop of any kind is a big commitment and the same risks as starting any new shop apply.

If you’re serious about beginning a zero waste shop in your area you must think it through thoroughly. There’s no specific order you must follow but you should consider each of the following factors to assess the feasibility of setting up a zero waste shop before you begin:

  • Stock – what will your zero waste shop sell? Most focus on dry foodstuffs like pasta, coffee, and beans that are easy to stock and sell without packaging. Some sell health and beauty products like soap bars without packaging or bulk volumes of washing powder. Other options include stocking ugly food (fruit and veg not accepted by supermarkets), second-hand clothing, or anything else that’s sustainably sourced and generates zero or little waste.
  • Location – research the area where you plan to open a zero waste shop in detail. Consider the demographics in the area (is there a demand for a zero waste shop?), the potential footfall (are there other busy shops nearby), and access (good public transport links?). If you think the area is promising you’ll need to find an empty shop with clear visibility and accessibility.
  • Target market – your target customers will be eco-conscious people who want to reduce waste when shopping. But what types of goods do they buy? Consider if there’s a strong demand for organic or vegetarian food that further focuses on sustainability. Or if people in the area have other options for buying food in a low waste way would setting up a zero waste clothes or beauty shop be better?
  • Competition – when assessing the potential location it’s vital you check out the competition. Review what people can already buy in the area. Are there greengrocers and butchers selling fruit, veg, and meat in low packaging ways? And if there’s already a zero waste food shop in the area it could be time to look elsewhere. Alternatively, see what they do well, struggle with, and if there’s an opportunity to compete or not.
  • Budget – opening a zero waste shop isn’t cheap, even though your packaging costs should be low. Draw up a budget that covers the equipment, shop fitting, staff costs, branding and marketing, stock, rent, legal fees, insurance, cleaning, waste management costs, and other costs. Then think about how you plan to finance your store, such as with a business loan.
  • Suppliers – you’ll need to source suppliers that fit with your sustainable ethos. This includes those that provide no or low packaging for their products and can offer bulk amounts. Plus, they’ll need to supply the products your zero waste store wants to stock. Using local suppliers helps cut down on carbon emissions with reduced transportation.
  • Insurance and legal considerations – starting a zero waste shop follows the same legal considerations as any other type of shop in the UK. You’ll need all the proper insurance in place, must register with HMRC, and ensure all legal processes are followed when employing staff and operating your new shop.
  • Waste management – even though you aim to eliminate waste, it’s almost impossible to completely avoid it. Your shop will require bins for a low level of general waste and dry mixed recycling created on the shop floor. Plus, you must legally have a sanitary waste bin in every toilet within your shop. Any waste your shop creates is commercial waste that must legally be removed by licensed waste carriers. Discover our waste management tips for start-ups.
goods for sale in a zero waste shop.

How to open a 
zero waste shop

Do plenty of in-depth research and if you decide your idea for a zero waste shop is feasible then it’s time to get (more) serious. If you’ve run a business in the UK before then hopefully you have a good idea of what setting one entails. Otherwise, you should seek professional business advice.

There are many steps to opening a zero waste shop, but these are some of the key ones:

  • Create a business plan – every business must have a solid business plan. This outlines the overall idea, and your goals, and demonstrates its feasibility. Most banks, lenders, or other financial backers require a good business plan to convince them to back your idea. Some of the main points your zero waste shop’s business plan should include are a summary of your business idea, the products you’ll sell, your target market, a competitor analysis, sales and marketing strategies, the budget and financial goals/projections, your intended suppliers, and team of staff.
  • Secure financing – unless you’ve got enough of your own funds you’ll likely need some financial backing to start a zero waste shop. Bank and business loans are common but check the repayment terms carefully and shop around. There are sometimes grants available that help, as you don’t have to repay them. Otherwise, angel investors, venture capitalists, and local investors are good options. All will ask to see your business plan and may renegotiate your initial terms.
  • Hire staff – once you’ve got funding and secured premises for your zero waste store you can put some job adverts out for staff (if needed). Your business plan should include how many employees you’ll hire and their wages. Who you hire is up to you, but sourcing locally is always good and ideally people on board with a zero waste lifestyle.
  • Build branding, advertising, and marketing – hopefully, you’ll have an idea for a name and a rough colour scheme already. It should be something that reflects the sustainable and environmentally friendly nature of your shop. It’s always a good idea to use professionals for the best results. Setting up social media accounts is vital in the modern day as is advertising in the local press and using your shop front to advertise your store before it opens.
  • Decide on payment options – many businesses are card only and for a zero waste shop this is an ideal way to operate in a paper-free manner. Set up your payment systems with card machines and QR codes next to items as a way to reduce labels. If you’ll be selling goods online then your online payment system must be sorted too.
  • Plan for excess stock – a key role of many zero waste shops is what they do with items that would otherwise be binned, such as damaged goods or expired foodstuffs. Speak to local charities, food banks, animal shelters, and community groups to see where you can donate or pass on unsold products.
  • Build anticipation – you don’t want to open your doors and find just one man and his dog standing outside. Create a sense of excitement with a marketing and advertising plan in the build-up to your open day. Put up posters in the local area announcing your open date and mention any offers for the first few days or weeks to increase footfall. Posting in local social media groups as well as on your own page helps spread awareness too. You could even get a special guest to open your store.
  • Celebrate the big day – there’s no way to sugarcoat it, the big day will probably be stressful. Still, celebrate getting this far and make a note of any mistakes and opportunities you spot. Take on board feedback from customers and work out ways to improve and grow. It’s an exciting time and if you’ve planned properly your zero waste shop will hopefully be a success!
fruit and veg in wooden boxes on a stall for sale.

What you need when 
starting a zero waste shop

There’s lots of equipment you’ll need when starting a zero waste store to ensure things run smoothly. Some items are similar to what’s required when operating any shop while others are specific to zero waste businesses. Here are some of the main things your new zero waste shop needs:

  • Food dispensers – if you’re going to sell dry food in bulk then effective dispensers are vital. They offer an easy way for customers to fill up their containers without putting too much in by accident. When stocks are running low you simply fill up the food dispenser again, which significantly reduces packaging waste from your shelves.
  • Electronic scales – most food in zero waste shops are priced by weight so having working scales is essential. Ensure these are big enough to accommodate the container sizes your customers are likely to use and that you have enough sets of scales in your store to cope with busy periods.
  • Chalkboards and signs – putting a fold-up chalkboard outside is an easy way to advertise your shop. You can also change what it says each day without wasting paper. Using small chalkboard signs next to items for sale within your shop also eliminates label and paper waste. Plus, it’s simple to change prices when required.
  • Natural displays – reusable displays such as wicker baskets for bread or wooden boxes for clothes and other items provide a sustainable and natural feel to your shop. Think about the layout and how you can minimise waste with your displays.
  • Technology equipment – to operate your shop you’ll need at least one till, a couple of card readers (in case one stops working), CCTV for safety, energy-efficient lighting, and speakers if you’ll be playing music in the store.

Setting up a zero waste shop online

Starting a zero waste shop online follows most of the above steps. However, there’s much more competition as you’ll be entering a wider market as people can order pretty much anything online today. Think about how to differentiate your online zero waste shop from others with some genuine unique selling points (USPs).

Using sustainable suppliers and being able to demonstrate truly zero waste practices are vital. All your products should be delivered with no packaging or at least biodegradable or recyclable packaging. Again, having a transparent plan for how your business manages any waste helps build trust and demonstrates your sustainability.

Explore more business advice

Another big focus for any zero waste shop online is the website. You should still have a website if you have a physical shop, but it might be relatively small and simple, explaining what your shop sells, where it is, when it’s open, and why people should visit. With an online-only store, the website is key.

Use professional web designers and developers to build a site for your zero waste online shop that works. It needs to be attractive, easy to navigate, simple to use, and with a working payment functionality. Look at your competitors to see what works and areas for improvement to build into your site.

There are more than 16,000 laboratories in the UK – from university chemistry labs to hospital, medical, research and development facilities, and even computer labs. On average they carry out around 300,000 tests every day. All these experiments, research, and tests produce lots of waste materials each year – including 5.5 million tonnes of plastic waste.

The importance of laboratory waste management can’t be underestimated. It must be stored, removed, and disposed of safely, legally, and responsibly to protect humans from exposure to potentially dangerous materials and to ensure no harm happens to the environment. There are various guidelines in place to reduce the risks when disposing of lab waste.

To help ensure your tests, experiments, and research run smoothly we’ve created this laboratory waste disposal guide. Discover how to manage and get rid of rubbish from any type or size of lab with these laboratory waste disposal guidelines for UK organisations.

Laboratory waste management
empty laboratory.

What is the definition 
of laboratory waste?

Any waste produced by laboratories in industry, medicine, research, and educational facilities (such as universities) is laboratory waste. This includes solid, liquid, and gaseous waste.. Waste from laboratories can be broken down into further categories with common materials including:

Most waste in laboratories is classed as hazardous or non-hazardous waste, which determines how it should be managed and disposed of safely. Even items such as a crisp packet thrown away in a general waste bin by someone working in the lab class as laboratory waste. Find more guidance on our laboratory waste management page.

Laboratory waste disposal guidelines in the UK

Laboratory waste disposal guidelines in the UK are governed by various laws, regulations, and legislation – there’s no single law. Before working with any materials in the lab that are potentially harmful to humans and the environment you must carry out a risk assessment. This includes when using chemicals, radioactive substances, biological agents, and animal by-products.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency are the main bodies that oversee lab waste disposal. They provide guidelines and advice around chemical waste and biological waste storage and disposal. Adhering to relevant regulations for lab waste disposal is essential, otherwise, you could face penalties including significant fines.

The main legal guidelines and legislation that cover laboratory waste disposal are:

  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2022 – employers must assess the risks associated with using hazardous substances under the COSHH Regulations. It includes health and safety risks related to the storage, handling, or disposal of any hazardous substances with measures to prevent and control exposure.
  • Hazardous Waste Regulations – organisations must make sure any hazardous waste produced in laboratories is segregated from non-hazardous waste. You have a legal responsibility to ensure it causes no harm or damage to humans or the environment. Hazardous waste must be stored safely, removed by licensed waste carriers, and disposed of properly under these regulations.
  • Radioactive Substances Act 1993 – this act regulates the storage and disposal of radioactive materials (including contaminated equipment). It prohibits disposal or accumulation of radioactive waste unless authorised by the Environment Agency. Any lab that creates radioactive waste should check they comply with the Radioactive Substances Act.
  • Environmental Protection Act 1990 – section 33 covers the storage and disposal of waste including that from laboratories. Section 34 places a legal duty of care on businesses for the safe and proper disposal of their commercial waste. The act also makes it an offence to dispose of waste in a way that may harm human health or lead to environmental pollution.
chemical bottles on a shelf in a lab.

Laboratory safety and waste management risks

The importance of laboratory waste management can’t be underestimated due to the potentially dangerous nature of some materials. Storing and disposing of all waste from a lab properly and responsibly is vital to minimise and eliminate associated risks, such as:

  • Waste material leaking from unsecured sharps bins and boxes
  • Split bags leaking waste
  • Injuries due to needles and sharps waste put in incorrect containers
  • Failures to destroy pathogenic organisms and/or genetically modified organisms
  • Pathogenic waste being stockpiled within a laboratory
  • Illness or injury to staff handling waste due to exposure to unsecured waste types

Safe storage of all waste produced in your lab is vital to reduce the risk of exposure to potentially dangerous materials that could harm human health. It’s also important to ensure your waste is accepted and removed by the licensed waste carrier who collects it. Improper storage could lead to waste being rejected and building up on your site, for reasons such as:

  • Lab waste placed in the wrong bins, bags, or containers
  • Sharps waste bins containing improper items
  • Contamination with different waste types mixed in one bin, bag, or container
  • Bins overflowing or exceeding their max fill lines or weight limits

How to dispose of lab waste 

To dispose of any type and amount of lab waste safely and legally you should use a commercial waste collection service – such as through Business Waste. Separate and store your lab waste in relevant bins, bags, and containers within any weight limits or max fill lines. Then arrange for licensed waste carriers to remove it.

Check that the waste carriers are authorised to collect and transport your lab waste. You should receive a duty of care certificate/waste transfer note that confirms the disposal method and location of your waste as proof it was managed legally and responsibly. Some steps to dispose of lab waste safely include:

  • Separate hazardous and non-hazardous waste – all waste types should be separated especially hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Check the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for any products if you’re unsure whether it’s hazardous or not.
  • Use the right bins – have a range of bins, bags, and containers in place across your lab to store all waste safely. This could include different coloured sharps bins, drums and barrels, clinical waste bags, and recycling bins. It makes separating waste at the point of production easy.
  • Install a fume hood and ventilation system – if your laboratory work releases dust or gases then having a fume hood or local exhaust ventilation system in place with filters can remove harmful materials from the air.
woman working in a laboratory.

Laboratory waste disposal methods

Various laboratory waste disposal methods exist with the appropriate option depending on the type and volume of waste. These include:

  • Drains – most liquid waste from a laboratory should be stored in an IBC container, drum, or other container and removed by licensed waste carriers. However, you can dilute some liquids with water and pour them down the drain in small amounts (such as concentrated and dilute acids and alkalis, harmless soluble inorganic salts, and fine (tlc grade) silica and alumina).
  • Autoclave – the use of autoclaves is common to destroy biohazard group 3 organisms and genetically modified organisms at class 3. They’re incinerated at temperatures of 134°C to safely dispose of potentially dangerous lab waste.
  • Chemical treatment – an appropriate concentration of disinfectant can be used to treat and destroy some types of lab waste.
  • Incineration – many kinds of waste from laboratories that can’t be recovered, reused, or recycled are incinerated. This provides a safe disposal and destruction method for the likes of animal byproducts.
  • Recycling – materials such as paper, cardboard, glass, and plastics should be recycled where possible (as long as there’s no contamination). They’re taken to recycling facilities for sorting, processing, and converting into recycled products.

Arrange waste collection and disposal from your lab anywhere in the UK with Business Waste. Get a free quote for waste removal today – call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online.

Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday) is all about celebrating some of the most important women in our lives and the sacrifices they make for their children. Aside from the two billion mums around the world, there’s another matriarchal figure that deserves plenty of respect on this day – Mother Earth.

Celebrating Mother’s Day as a child or mother might not reach the same level of excess as Christmas, but it still creates plenty of waste. In the UK we spend around £1.3 billion for Mother’s Day every year. The good news is that around a third of people aim to buy ethically sourced or sustainable presents, according to Forbes.

Choosing zero and low-waste gifts shows Mother Earth and your own mum, step-mum, aunty, grandma, or anyone else that you care. Discover ways to celebrate Mother’s Day sustainably this year, whether you’re planning something special for your mum or are a mother yourself.

mother and daughter holding hands at sunset.

How much waste does 
Mother’s Day create?

Exact stats about Mother’s Day waste are hard to come by, but given we spend millions on all sorts of items each year it can create lots of rubbish. Here’s a rough idea of the types and amounts of waste that Mother’s Day produces:

  • Flowers – only Valentine’s Day and Christmas see more flowers and plants bought to celebrate a holiday than Mother’s Day. About 90% of flowers sold in the UK are imported and most only last a week or two before being chucked out.
  • Cards – around 30 million Mother’s Day cards are bought and sold in the UK every year at a cost of more than £60 million. Most of these are thrown away a few weeks later.
  • Chocolate – chocolates are the second-most purchased Mother’s Day gift after flowers. Most of these are likely eaten but it’s the packaging waste that can cause an issue. Millions of empty chocolate boxes end up in the bin over the following days and weeks.
  • Gift bags, boxes, and wrapping paper – many presents given on Mother’s Day are packaged in gift bags and boxes, so wrapping paper use and waste is much less than at Christmas and birthdays. Still, these gift boxes and bags are often discarded once the wine, chocolate, flowers, and plants have been removed.
  • Food waste almost a third of people plan on taking their mums out to eat on Mother’s Day, according to the National Restaurant Association. This can lead to an increase in food waste including leftovers and wasted ingredients in the kitchen.

Zero waste Mother’s Day gifts

It’s the thought that counts – and zero waste Mother’s Day gifts show plenty of consideration for the planet as well as your mum. They help avoid adding to general waste and landfill once the present and any packaging is used. Always try to buy packaging-free products or at least in recyclable packaging.

Here are some more ideas for sustainable zero waste Mother’s Day gifts:

  • Handpicked garden flowers – supermarket flowers can have a high carbon footprint and come with thin plastic bags and packaging that’s hard to recycle. If you’ve got a garden then consider picking some from it. This is sustainable as you can easily plant more, and they should last for longer.
  • Potted plants – flowers only last a couple of weeks but a potted plant like a succulent or cactus should last for years. Avoid those in plastic pots or with excess packaging though. You could always decorate an old jam jar or food tin and upcycle it as a personalised plant pot.
  • Tickets – is your mum a fan of the theatre, music, comedy, ballet, musicals, or sports? Then buying a couple of tickets to an event she’d love is an easy way to make her day and avoid creating any unnecessary waste. Most tickets are online now, so there’s not even any paper waste.
  • Sustainable subscription services – many modern subscription services send out a monthly item, such as coffee, wine, make-up, or books. Packaging for most of these products can be recycled and items like books passed on. Some services may even offer a takeback option to eliminate waste.
  • Home baking – baking a cake, biscuits, or creating jam, chilli, or conserves will be greatly appreciated. It’s an effective way to use up fruit that’s going off, so it doesn’t become food waste. And you can use old jam jars and tins to store your homemade goods in.
  • Books and clothes – buying second-hand books, clothes, jigsaws, and games from charity shops or online is a great way to source a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift and avoid generating waste at the same time.
tulips growing in a garden.

Low-waste ideas for Mother’s Day

Most physical gifts create some kind and amount of physical waste that needs managing and recycling where possible. An easy way to eliminate such waste is with an experience gift instead. Find inspiration from this range of ideas, whatever your mum’s interests and hobbies:

  • Plan a picnic – fill a basket or hamper with sandwiches, snacks, and sweet treats then plan a walk or drive in the local park or a favourite outdoor spot.
  • Host a movie night – if your mum loves the cinema then taking her to see the latest blockbuster is a good waste-free idea. Alternatively, host your own movie night at home with a few homemade snacks (an easy way to reduce packaging waste) and some of her favourite flicks.
  • Sign up for an online class – there are all sorts of virtual classes you could do together at home, such as yoga, painting, and cooking. Choose one that your mum would love for a low-waste bonding activity.
  • Enjoy a spa day – an experience day at a local spa can be a relaxing low-waste idea. Beauty treatments may create waste but lots of sustainable spas should try to minimise it.
  • Visit a museum – if your mother’s got a particular interest, whether it’s art, history, or music, then planning a trip to a relevant museum is a great idea. It’s a low-waste activity (as long as you don’t spend too long in the gift shop).

How to recycle Mother’s Day waste

As a mother, you’ve little control over what gifts you might receive. Even when buying presents for your own mum, it’s almost impossible for everything to be packaging-free. How you dispose of it can reduce its environmental impact though. Here’s how to get rid of some common waste you might create this Mothering Sunday:

  • Flowers – once your flowers have wilted and can’t be revived you should either add them to a compost heap or dispose of them in a garden waste bin.
  • Card – as long as there’s no glitter, plastic, or metallic foil, you can recycle most Mother’s Day cards in your household recycling bin.
  • Wrapping paper – do the scrunch test (squeeze it into a ball and if it doesn’t unfurl then it should be recyclable).
  • Gift bags and boxes – save any gift bags and boxes to reuse for other birthdays and celebrations. Some charity shops may also accept them. Otherwise, if they’re made from paper or card you should be able to put them in your domestic recycling bin.
  • Chocolate boxes – once you’ve munched through the chocolates you can normally recycle the box in your household recycling bin. If there’s a plastic tray, check the plastic type and if your local authority accepts and recycles it (otherwise it may have to go in your general waste bin).
  • Wine bottles – ensure the bottles are empty (a tough ask!), rinse them out, and drop them off at your nearest bottle bank to be recycled.
gift bag and flowers.

Peel back the glamorous outer layer and it reveals a few problems in the beauty industry. One of the main ones is the huge amount of waste the sector generates and what happens to it. For starters, the global beauty industry creates 120 billion bits of packaging every year, which all end up as waste.

Nail bars, hair salons, and beauty parlours all produce high volumes and wide ranges of rubbish. Then there’s the waste from makeup containers, cosmetics, and personal care items used at home. Manufacturers, beauty businesses, and consumers all need to act to improve the sustainability of looking stunning by recycling and reducing waste.

Discover all about the beauty industry’s problems with waste, how to create an effective recycling plan for your beauty business, and ways to responsibly dispose of cosmetics and their containers as a consumer in this guide.

box of makeup creams and jars.

Waste problems in the beauty industry

The beauty industry relies on various products and practices to rejuvenate skin, hair, and other areas. A professional pampering or personal treatment at home creates all sorts of waste items, from makeup brushes to swabs, strips, wipes, and cosmetics containers. It’s estimated between 20 and 40% of beauty products end up as waste.

Waste is a big problem for the beauty industry due to its volume and the types of waste materials it generates:

  • Packaging – the primary problem for the beauty industry in terms of waste is packaging, which accounts for 70% of the sector’s waste. According to the British Beauty Council, 95% of cosmetic packaging is thrown away. While some of this is recyclable, unfortunately plenty isn’t recycled and may end up in landfill.
  • Chemical waste – many beauty products contain synthetic chemicals like parabens and phthalates. These don’t break down in landfills, can leach and pollute nearby water and add to pollution levels. Responsible chemical waste storage and disposal is vital for every beauty business.
  • Unused, unsold, and expired products – one cause of waste in the beauty industry is simply products that aren’t used. This could be if they’re unpopular and don’t sell well by retailers, aren’t used (like an unwanted gift), or expire due to poor stock control.
  • Formula testers – to ensure many types of beauty products are safe and effective they must undergo strict testing. This process can create waste in the form of formula testers. It’s an issue for manufacturers as the testers are contaminated with the product so can’t be recycled.
  • Water use and waste – it’s estimated that the cosmetics industry uses 78 billion litres of water annually to create products. For example, between 60 and 85% of a cream product is water. There are big risks of pollution through improper treatment and use of this water, so safe management is essential.

There are other environmental problems in the beauty industry, such as the use of palm oil, a big carbon footprint from the transportation of materials and products around the world, and animal testing.

How to create a recycling plan 
for your beauty business

Every kind of business that operates in the beauty industry needs an effective waste management plan in place. This helps reduce your organisation’s environmental impact and save money on waste disposal costs by recycling more and requiring fewer bin collections. Use the following tips to make up an efficient recycling plan for your beauty business.

Audit your beauty business

Start by reviewing your current waste management practices. This should include the types and amount of waste your business creates, where it’s stored, and the disposal method. Any aesthetics waste, chemical waste, or hazardous materials must be stored safely on your site before removal.

Review the results of your audit and the current bins you use to see if there are any areas where you’re throwing out recyclable rubbish with general waste – such as cardboard packaging or glass containers. If so, you should consider adding a dry mixed recycling or cardboard recycling bin to your waste services.

Consider any areas where you create high levels of waste and try to work out why this is. It could be poor working practices, an ordering error, or something else. There might be ways to cut this down, which may also reduce the number of bins and collections you need to lower your waste management costs.

How to conduct a waste audit
eye shadow and lipstick and mascara pen.

Provide a makeup recycling program

Some types of makeup packaging are trickier to recycle than others and aren’t accepted in many domestic recycling bins. It’s mainly due to the materials and contamination risks. This includes items like plastic eyeshadow palettes, mascara/eye shadow tubes, eyeliner pens, face cream pots, and face mask packaging.

As a beauty business, you can help the environment and consumers by offering a makeup recycling program. Some retailers already provide a take-back scheme for beauty packaging. Doing so demonstrates your organisation’s eco-credentials and helps get customers through the door who may then be likelier to use your other services.

Use sustainable cosmetics suppliers

Try to use, buy, and sell products with as little packaging as possible – or items that at least come in recyclable and eco-friendly packaging. A greater focus on the issues the beauty industry faces with packaging waste means more manufacturers are working to produce products with little or recyclable packaging.

Those in packaging made from recycled materials are also more sustainable. Avoid products in plastic packaging where possible, as this is often harder to recycle. Use items in cardboard, paper, and glass packaging and buy in bulk to reduce resources. Some manufacturers may offer a recycling take-back program too.

Improve inventory management and stock rotation

One cause of waste for beauty businesses is products expiring before they’re used or sold. Maintain an updated inventory and rotate stock (use the first in first out process) to avoid items going out of date. This is important whether you’re looking to reduce waste in a hair salon, tattoo parlour, shop, or beauty salon.

Make sure all products are stored in appropriate places and conditions to prevent the likes of creams and cosmetics from getting too warm or cold and spoiling. If you end up with some items close to their expiry date consider selling them at a reduced price to customers. This should mean less is wasted.

Inform staff and customers about recycling solutions

Put in place a recycling policy for your beauty business. Train your employees to follow clear steps to recycle rubbish and dispose of waste properly – especially any chemical waste. Highlight the importance of recycling to help the environment and the positive impact it can have on business costs.

Inform customers if your business offers a take-back scheme to encourage them to return cosmetics packaging. If not, tell them about any other available recycling schemes where they can dispose of any products you sell or supply. Ensure signs and directions are clear to reduce the risk of contamination.

How can consumers recycle cosmetics?

It’s not just businesses that generate waste in the beauty industry. Once products are sold or supplied to consumers the responsibility of what happens to the goods and packaging is in their smooth hands. Responsible use and disposal of cosmetics waste is essential. Use the following tips for ways to recycle beauty products you use at home.

How to recycle makeup

Makeup recycling is an easy way to reduce waste, whether you’re getting rid of unwanted lipstick or an empty face cream tub. Recycling unused or used products is possible in various ways. Never pour makeup down the sink or a drain though, as the chemicals may then enter waterways and damage the environment.

These are a few ideas for ways to recycle old makeup:

  • Pass on products – if you’ve got some half-used makeup items you no longer want, consider passing them on to a friend or family member who might use them. Maybe the eye shadow colour isn’t quite right, or the skin cream caused a reaction – it’s better if someone else finishes using it rather than it going in the bin.
  • Donate to a charity – many charity shops might accept makeup products if they’re unopened, in date, and intact to sell and support their cause. There are also women’s charities that can redistribute items to help those in need.
  • Sell items online – you could raise a bit of money by selling unwanted makeup products online through sites such as Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, and Vinted. Ensure they’re in date and decent condition.
  • Recycle makeup packaging at home – you can recycle cardboard and paper packaging from makeup products in most domestic recycling bins, bags, or containers. Check with your local authority as some accept certain types of plastic waste too. Ensure they’re clean and dry before throwing them away. You can take clean and dry glass makeup jars or pots to bottle banks too.
  • Use a take-back scheme – many healthcare shops and beauty retailers have containers where you can return empty or partly empty makeup containers when you’re finished with them. This ensures everything is disposed of responsibly.
eye shadow palette with brushes.

Where to recycle makeup

There are many beauty recycling drop-off points in shops across the UK where you can recycle makeup. Various brands and retailers are working with waste management companies to provide bins in-store where customers can drop off old makeup that’s then removed and recycled. Some of the main retailers where you can recycle makeup in the UK include:

  • Boots
  • Superdrug
  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Kiehl’s
  • John Lewis

Can you recycle makeup containers?

Recycling makeup containers is possible, but the right method depends on the type of material. To recycle a makeup container of any kind you must first clean it out and remove any remaining product to avoid contamination. Then you can either recycle it in your household recycling bin, take it to a household waste recycling centre (HWRC), or drop-off point.

In most cases, you can recycle makeup containers made of cardboard or some types of plastic in your domestic recycling bin. Check the plastic recycling number and symbol and whether your local authority accepts it in their collections first. For any glass makeup containers you can usually take them to a glass bottle bank as long as they’re clean and dry.

Ways to reduce cosmetic waste 
as a consumer

Consumers can help reduce waste in the beauty industry by recycling cosmetics and changing behaviours for a more sustainable future. Here are a few ways to buy and use beauty products in a way that will hopefully create less waste:

  • Choose cosmetics in recyclable packaging – purchasing creams, conditioners, and other beauty products in glass bottles and jars is better than plastic. This is because glass is easier to recycle and infinitely recyclable.
  • Buy beauty products with less packaging – look for beauty products that come with little or no packaging. Buying a bar of soap in a paper wrapper creates less waste than a plastic bottle of shower gel, for example.
  • Recycle beauty products in-store – clean out empty beauty products and return the containers to drop-off points offered by retailers to ensure they’re disposed of properly.

Find more information on our page about managing beauty salon waste.

Or explore more expert guides about reducing waste of many other materials.

woman having a face mask applied.

Many restaurants serve up something unsavoury alongside their delicious dishes – lots of avoidable waste. There’s all the leftover food, packaging from ingredients, and even furniture when it’s time for a refurbishment every five or so years. A growing trend for low and zero-waste restaurants aims to make the sector more sustainable.

The UK hospitality industry creates £3.2 billion of food waste each year according to WRAP. This includes hotels, bars, and other entertainment venues alongside restaurants, and they produce many other waste materials at high cost too. Running a zero-waste restaurant could help your business save money as well as the planet.

There are many areas to look at if you want to operate a low or no-waste restaurant. Small changes and large improvements can help cut your waste management costs and benefit the environment. Find out how to run a zero-waste restaurant with these ideas.

How to reduce waste in restaurants
empty restaurant with tables set out.

Conduct a restaurant waste audit

Every restaurant is different. The best way towards becoming zero waste is to audit your existing waste management practices. Review the current types, number, and sizes of bins you use to assess what waste materials and volumes your restaurant produces on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

This should highlight how much waste your restaurant regularly creates and identify key areas where reducing waste is most important. Start by setting small achievable targets to cut back on waste in these areas and building an action plan. Over time you can increase the targets until you eventually eliminate waste from every stream.

The following sections provide useful ideas for ways to minimise waste across all areas of your restaurant.

Phase out plate waste

Leftovers from customers – also known as plate waste – are a big reason for the high levels of food waste created by restaurants. Research found plate waste makes up 34% of food binned in restaurants, so it’s a key area to tackle. These are a few things you can try to phase out plate waste in your restaurant:

  • Offer doggy bags – an easy way to get rid of plate waste is to let customers take any leftovers home with them. Use a recyclable box or bag if possible. You can’t guarantee they won’t throw the food in the bin at home, but it at least provides an opportunity to eat it later.
  • Improve portion sizes – lots of plate waste could be a sign your portions are too big. Either reduce plate and portion sizes or offer a choice of portion sizes (at different prices) so customers can choose what they fancy.
  • Make extras optional – side salads, bread, and some vegetables are often included with dishes as standard and common reasons for plate waste. Simply ask customers when ordering if they want them or not to avoid adding food to their plate they’re never going to eat.
  • Stick to short menus – generally, restaurants that have long menus with many items create more food waste. Working with fewer dishes and ingredients enables closer control over stock levels too. It also helps improve quality by specialising in select dishes.
  • Remove trays from buffets – if your restaurant includes a self-service or buffet element don’t provide trays and only offer small plates and bowls. This reduces the amount of food diners pile onto plates and can carry back to their tables that ultimately gets wasted.

Eliminate food waste in the kitchen

It’s estimated that food service and hospitality companies throw away 920,000 tonnes of waste food annually. According to WRAP, 21% of food wasted is due to ingredient spoilage in UK hospitality every year. Eliminating waste in your commercial kitchen is something you have more control over when running a restaurant than plate waste.

Use the following tips to reduce waste food from your restaurant’s kitchen:

  • Store ingredients properly – review your fridges, freezers, and other storage facilities to ensure they operate at the right temperature to keep ingredients fresh. Keep the areas clean and tidy and place lower-risk foods on higher shelves to reduce the risk of spoilage.
  • Explore ways to use leftovers – save leftovers from your meal preparations and find ways to incorporate them into your menu. Vegetable peelings and animal bones are great for making stocks, soups, and cooking vinegars while old bread can be turned into croutons or breadcrumbs.
  • Juice imperfect fruit and veg – if you receive any fruit or veg that’s squashed, out of shape, or too soft to use in your dishes, juice them. It avoids waste and you can add to your menu or offer a small glass to customers on the house as a nice amuse bouche.
  • Use local and seasonal produce – there’s less distance to travel when sourcing local ingredients. This saves energy and minimises fuel pollution. Plus, there’s less chance of spoilage during shorter transportation and foodstuffs should arrive fresh.
  • Regularly review your menu – track your orders to see which dishes are most and least popular. Use this information to adapt the ingredients you use to avoid over-ordering items that go off. Remove any unpopular dishes from the menu too.
  • Train kitchen staff – upskilling chefs and other kitchen staff by sending them on training courses can help reduce food waste in the kitchen. Little things like chopping, cooking, and preparation techniques can all help lower waste levels and inspire new ways to cut down on restaurant kitchen food waste.

Responsibly dispose of waste food

However hard you try to create a zero-waste restaurant you might still create some level of waste food. Responsible disposal of it can help ensure the waste goes to good use. Move towards becoming zero waste with these options for dealing with leftover food or ingredients:

  • Compostcomposting is the natural way to recycle waste food. If your restaurant has space and a garden then you could build a compost heap onsite. Otherwise, send it to a local or industrial compost site.
  • Donate meals and ingredients – partner with a local food bank to provide any leftover meals or usable ingredients. Animal charities or farms may accept any inedible leftovers for animal feed.
  • Use resale apps – sign up to apps such as Too Good To Go and OLIO where you can sell any leftover meals at the end of the day for a discount to help those on lower incomes and avoid wasting food.
  • Book commercial waste collection – at Business Waste we can collect your waste food and transport it to a composting site or for anaerobic digestion, which creates energy from waste.

Follow FIFO for stock 
inventory and storage

First In First Out (FIFO) is a simple system to prevent food spoilage and waste in your restaurant. Essentially, you move ingredients with the shortest use-by dates to the front of shelves in cupboards, fridges, and freezers. When deliveries arrive put the latest food with longer dates to the back.

Train your staff in the FIFO process to minimise the risk of food spoilage. Regular reviews and stock rotation every week should highlight any items that have been missed so they can be moved forward and used. And it identifies any food you’ve got too much of so you can adapt your menu to use them up.

Clear labelling of ingredients with use-by dates and allergens helps chefs identify any gone-off ingredients. It also makes keeping track of your inventory easier to avoid over-ordering ingredients that go off. Plus, knowing what’s in every container avoids accidentally throwing out usable food because you don’t know what it is.

Cut down on oil waste

Many restaurants, cafes, and pubs produce lots of waste oil from frying up food in their kitchen. It can clog drains and sewers due to improper disposal and pollute the environment. There are a few ways to cut down on oil waste in your restaurant:

  • Reuse cooking oil where possible. It can be cleaned, filtered, and reused for frying in your kitchen.
  • Reduce the number of fried items on your menu to minimise how much oil you use each day.
  • Grill, bake, poach, or steam ingredients where possible rather than frying or deep-frying. This significantly reduces how much oil you use and offers healthier options for diners.

Prevent packaging and plastic waste

The single-use plastic ban means restaurants should no longer provide plastic cutlery and cups. Avoid offering any other disposable items – have washable and reusable chopsticks on the table, for example. If you have a takeaway service consider a discount for anyone with a reusable cup for drinks.

Packaging is a big source of plastic waste for restaurants. Try to only partner with suppliers that have plastic-free packaging or that reduce packaging as much as possible. For example, Restaurant Nolla in Helsinki only works with suppliers that deliver food with no packaging – so it is possible. Buying in bulk is another way to cut down on plastic wrap and other packaging.

Trim waste at the table

Out front in your restaurant is another place where you can reduce waste with a few simple steps. At the table, many waste materials may build up beyond leftover food. Transition to a zero-waste restaurant with these actions to minimise waste at your tables:

  • Switch to cloth napkins – used paper napkins aren’t recyclable due to contamination and their thin paper fibres. Cloth napkins can be cleaned and reused, which eliminates waste.
  • Ditch the tablecloth – disposable tablecloths should be avoided at all costs, while even cloth ones can be problematic. This is because often those washed professionally are returned in thin plastic bags that aren’t recyclable. Bare tables offer an appealing aesthetic and are easier to clean too.
  • Keep condiments in containers – avoid little packets of salt, pepper, ketchup, and other condiments as the packaging isn’t always recycled. Bulk buy such condiments and put them out on tables in glass containers that can be refilled and reused.
  • Provide jugs of tap water – plastic water bottles have a hugely negative impact on the environment. Simply put a jug of tap water with glasses on every table to avoid the need to sell them.
  • Serve draught drinks – cut back on glass and plastic bottle waste by providing beer, soft drinks, and even cocktails on draught.
  • Create recycled table decorations – clean and dry empty wine bottles and add light strings inside or use old ingredients jars as candle holders or vases. It’s cost-effective and good for the environment.
wine glasses and cloth napkins on restaurant table.

Provide paperless menus and receipts

Switching from physical menus on every table to an online one saves sheets of paper in the short and long term. Stick a QR code on each table that diners scan to see the menu. It’s also good to have a couple of tablets with the menu loaded up available for any customers without a smartphone or who need larger print.

Your kitchen will appreciate this method too, as you can update the menu in real-time to remove any dishes if they sell out. It also avoids wasting paper when it’s time to change over to a seasonal menu as you won’t need to print an extra Christmas menu – just put it online.

In a pub, café, or restaurant with a small menu, you could even just write out the dishes available that day on a chalkboard. Remove paper bills and receipts and switch to email instead to save even more paper. Or ask customers if they want a paper receipt, as most people throw it away shortly after anyway.

Clean up bathroom waste

Restaurant toilets are an often-overlooked area where you can reduce waste as well. Most bathroom bins will be full of paper towels that aren’t recyclable once used. Remove any paper towels and replace them with electric hand dryers. Use recycled toilet roll in cubicles for an eco-friendlier approach. At the sinks have refillable soap containers to minimise plastic use and waste.

Washroom services

Repair and upcycle 
furniture and equipment

Many restaurants have a refurbishment every five or seven years. Rather than chucking out old furniture when the time comes, consider upholstering chairs and tables instead. Repairing and upcycling furniture saves lots of waste going to landfill. You can always donate furniture to a charity if you must get rid of it.

Repair rather than replace broken equipment from your restaurant where possible too. Get some experts to repair any kitchen equipment such as ovens, dishwashers, or even electric whisks. This saves huge amounts of WEEE and should be cheaper than buying brand-new equipment.

Learn more about restaurant waste management
someone eating food in a restaurant.

As the calendar flips over into 2024, the freshest wave of baby name trends arrives – yet this one has an eco-twist! Our new research has unearthed the ‘greenest’ baby names in 2024. And it turns out that if your newborn is named David or Emma they could have a green future.

We analysed 20,000 names from our company’s internal data and looked both at the frequency of the names coming up and the type of ‘green’ request they made. This narrowed down the top 50 most sustainable customer names. Then we cross-referenced our greenest names with BabyCentre’s list of the most popular baby names in 2024.

This determined the most popular baby names for little ones most likely to become eco-warriors and enjoy an environmentally friendly life. Discover the top eco-friendly baby names in 2024 and inspiration for other nature-themed names.

baby sat in a blanket.

Top 20 eco-friendly baby names

David heads up the pack with a significant lead in sustainable practices, according to the latest data. Not only is it still a popular name in 2024 after trending for a few years, but it’s also the name that gets the most enquiries about recycling here at Business Waste. The name has biblical roots and means ‘beloved.’

On the girls’ side, the name most interested in sustainability with the most queries around recycling is by far Emma. It’s also the seventh top-trending name in the UK in 2024 according to BabyCentre. The name originates from the Germanic word ermen, which means ‘whole’ or ‘all-containing.’

Here are the top 20 trending baby names in 2024 that are most likely to care for the environment and lead a sustainable life:

list of top 20 baby names 2024.
olive tree branch.

Naming eco-warriors 
of the future

As we navigate the era of sustainability, nature is inspiring more parents when naming their newborns. People have always chosen names that sound nice but often also have a deeper meaning. These names are both beautiful and seem to be championing the cause of a cleaner and greener tomorrow.

Adam and Maria, both biblically rooted, now sprout new meaning in the green baby name trend. These names are growing in popularity among families who cherish the earth. Zoe, a name with a zest for life and currently in favour, is fast becoming synonymous with a desire to live sustainably.

This list might be a good source of inspiration for new parents who hope their kids will be green advocates for our planet. Other nature-based names from the list that stand out include Hazel, which simply originates from the hazel tree and Oliver, which harks back to the olive tree.

child holding globe with dad behind her.

52 nature-influenced baby names

Our research found the 40 greenest baby names currently in use but there are many more nature-inspired names out there. Some are still very popular, a few are subtle, and others are pretty on the nose. Find further inspiration as new parents with this list of the most beautiful nature-inspired baby names:

list of nature-inspired baby names.

Many of these girls’ names also appear in the top baby names of 2024 according to BabyCentre. These include Aurora (8), Luna (10), Lily (18), Hazel (24), Violet (30), Willow (31), and Ivy (35). Far fewer nature-inspired boys’ names appear though, but there are places for Asher (12), Rowan (62), and Colton (73).

This seems to indicate that parents are more likely to choose a nature-influenced name if they have a daughter. Floral names are especially popular and lend themselves well to baby girls, like Flora, Heather, Jasmine, Lily, and Rose. Being named after seasons is also common for girls, such as Autumn and Summer.

Some of the nature-inspired boys’ names are a bit bolder and many are directly taken from animals – think Falcon, Wolfe, and Hawk. Others like Cliff and Glen are a bit more old-fashioned, but they could make a comeback. It might just be a matter of time and we’ll see more nature-influenced boys’ names in use in the future.

Healthcare facilities deal with a wide range of waste types but the most common is clinical waste (and sometimes the terms are used interchangeably). There are various hazards when working with healthcare waste, so responsible and effective management is vital. This helps protect patients, staff, and the environment.

Every healthcare organisation must have a strong waste management plan in place to ensure the safe and legal storage, removal, and disposal processes for clinical waste. Hospitals, doctor’s surgeries, dentists, care homes, and anywhere else that provides healthcare services will produce such waste. For example, NHS providers generate around 156,000 tonnes of clinical waste annually.

This guide helps you understand what healthcare waste is and how to deal with it effectively. Discover how to store, manage, and dispose of clinical waste responsibly in your healthcare organisation with this guide to efficient healthcare waste management.

doctor holding stethoscope with arms folded.

What is clinical waste disposal?

Clinical waste disposal is the method of getting rid of medical and healthcare waste in a safe way. It’s how everything from used bandages to blood bags, medication, and even body parts and anatomical waste are disposed of when they serve no further purpose. Methods of healthcare waste disposal vary depending on the waste type.

The most common form of clinical waste disposal is incineration. Medical waste is burned at high temperatures that destroy the organic substances and other materials that make up the waste. This reduces the risk of contamination or infection spreading from the waste materials that could harm humans and the environment if disposed of improperly.

Thermal disinfection is another kind of clinical waste disposal that’s more suitable for used bandages and gowns. High heat is applied to the waste to remove any potentially hazardous elements. This means the materials can then be recycled or recovered, which avoids the release of toxins and pollutants into the air that often comes with incineration practices.

What goes in clinical waste?

Clinical waste bins and bags are used to store all sorts of healthcare waste safely and securely before it’s removed and disposed of properly. This includes everything from masks and bandages to needles and blood bags. However, clinical waste isn’t just all thrown away together in the same bin, bag, or container.

There are different bins and bags for specific types of clinical waste. Often the colour of the bin/bag or its lid identifies the kind of waste that goes in it. For example, yellow clinical waste bins are for highly infectious waste such as contaminated gloves worn by a surgeon when operating, while red bins/bags are for anatomical waste.

Here are a few common examples of what goes in clinical waste:

  • Sharps – syringes, needles, and razors
  • Anatomical waste – tissue samples, blood bags, and body parts
  • Dental waste – teeth, grindings, and fillings
  • PPE – gloves, masks, and gowns
  • Infectious waste – wipes, contaminated PPE, and used bandages
  • Medicine – expired medication and empty blister packs

Is clinical waste hazardous?

Most clinical waste should be treated as hazardous unless it’s proven to be non-infectious. This is because many types of clinical waste pose a risk to the health of anyone they come into contact with and can harm the environment if not disposed of safely. It’s why many require high-temperature treatment for disposal.

Hazardous and non-hazardous clinical waste must be kept separate from the point of production and in storage before it’s removed and disposed of. This reduces the risk of harm to staff and patients, as it could spread infection and disease, while also preventing contamination of non-hazardous waste.

Examples of hazardous clinical waste include:

  • Infectious waste – anything contaminated such as PPE, dressings, and wipes
  • Sharps waste – both medicinally and non-medicinally contaminated
  • Anatomical waste – anything chemically preserved or that’s infectious but not chemically preserved
  • Cytotoxic and cytostatic medicine and contaminated instruments – like sharps and gloves contaminated with such medicine
Hazardous waste disposal

Offensive waste is the main kind of clinical waste that is not hazardous. It’s not pleasant but this kind of refuse presents no risk to human health. It should still be stored separately and safely and handled by professionals. Examples of non-hazardous clinical waste include:

  • Offensive waste – nappies, wipes, and gloves not contaminated with infectious elements
  • Non-infectious and not chemically preserved anatomical waste
  • Non-hazardous medicines including vials and packaging
facemask and syringes in a pile.

How to dispose of 
clinical waste safely

To dispose of clinical waste safely it’s important that you identify and separate waste by type as close to the point of production as possible. This helps reduce the risk of contamination and exposure to potentially infectious and hazardous materials. Create an effective waste management plan that highlights the healthcare waste your organisation produces and the processes to manage it.

This should include having the right type, number, and sizes of bins on your premises for the safe storage of all clinical waste produced. Place the relevant bins, bags, or containers as close as possible to the area where each type of healthcare waste is created. Ensure each one is colour-coded to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Train your staff so they know where to dispose of all clinical waste types produced in your facility and are aware of the risks of improper disposal. Then arrange regular removal of your clinical waste bins, bags, and containers by licensed waste carriers using a professional waste management company – such as Business Waste.

Book collections frequently so none of your healthcare bins overflow to help maintain safe and hygienic premises. Your clinical waste will be removed and taken to a waste management facility where it’s sorted and sent for appropriate disposal based on its type. For example, this could be incineration, thermal disinfection, or heat treatment.

Where to dispose of clinical waste

How and where you can dispose of clinical waste depends on whether you’re getting rid of it as a business or from your home. In either case, you should arrange collection of the clinical waste to ensure it’s handled, transported, and disposed of responsibly. The main places you can use for healthcare waste disposal are:

  • Households – you cannot take clinical waste to a household waste recycling centre (HWRC). However, some local councils collect and dispose of certain types of clinical waste such as used syringes, drugs, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Businesses – clinical waste is a type of commercial waste, which means any business or organisation must use licensed waste carriers to remove and dispose of it safely and legally. Arrange collection of your clinical waste by professionals and they’ll remove and transport it to an appropriate waste management facility that deals with medical waste. This ensures all the relevant processes are followed for responsible disposal.

At Business Waste we provide clinical waste collection and disposal services for organisations across the UK – from care homes to dental surgeries. Get a free no-obligation quote for any type and amount of healthcare waste collection. Just call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online and our expert team can answer any of your questions.

The beginning of a new year is a popular time to set goals for the coming 12 months. Businesses update targets while many people renew gym memberships and try to stay away from cigarettes, chocolate, or other vices. January feels like a fresh start for making behavioural changes.

Beyond the traditional tried and tested New Year’s resolutions, why not aim for something that benefits the environment this year? Reducing waste is important for businesses and households across the world. Setting a few simple goals helps keep you on track with just some small behavioural tweaks needed to reach them.

Get started with our 12 New Year’s resolutions to reduce waste – one for every month of the year. Each goal helps protect the planet but may also save your business or household money. Choose your favourites, do them all, or try one a month, whichever method you prefer should make a positive difference.

New Year fireworks over a city skyline.

1. Go paperless

In the modern digital world is there much need for paper? Request online rather than paper bank statements, read eBooks as opposed to hard or paperbacks, and opt for an email receipt wherever possible. Take a bag when you go shopping or collect a takeaway to avoid being given items in a paper bag.

Many offices can reduce their number of printers to minimise the amount of pointless documents printed out and paper wasted. Making it less convenient to print off posters or other items should ensure staff think twice before doing so. Move from paper to online pay cheques too.

2. Avoid packaging

Completely avoiding buying anything in packaging is almost impossible, but there are things you can do to reduce packaging waste. Take reusable containers to zero-waste shops and fill them up with dry goods like coffee, pasta, and spices instead of buying packaged items in supermarkets. Visiting greengrocers, butchers, and fishmongers also avoids purchasing overly packaged foodstuffs.

As a business, you could switch suppliers to those that use no or minimal packaging for their products (or at least recyclable and sustainable materials). Reuse boxes and containers for storage, set goals to cut shrink wrap usage, or offer return schemes for packaging where possible.

3. Shop second hand

Strive to buy as many things as you can second hand. This avoids the items going to waste, saves on energy and resources to create new products, and is always cheaper. Scour charity shops or online marketplaces such as Gumtree, Vinted, and eBay for clothes, furniture, cooking equipment, suitcases, games, and almost anything else you need.

4. Carry reusables

Stamp out single-use plastic in your life by always being prepared. Have a reusable bag in your car or coat pocket in case of an emergency trip to the shop when you’re out and about. Keep a reusable water bottle and/or coffee mug/thermos in your bag to fill up at work or elsewhere without resorting to a disposable plastic cup.

5. Repair and upcycle

Avoid the impulse to throw something away as soon as there’s a slight issue with it. Lost a button on a shirt? Sew a new one on. Snapped the handle off your favourite mug? Stick it back on with some glue. You can always take items in need of repair to professionals such as a tailor, cobbler, or electrician.

Businesses can offer discounts on damaged goods, whether it’s superficial damage to the packaging, a part missing, or something with a minor crack or blemish. Alternatively, find ways to improve and upcycle slightly damaged things by adding a fresh coat of paint, accessories, or using other creative methods.

6. Reuse packaging

Eliminating packaging from your life might be impossible, so focus on reusing it to reduce waste. Most types of packaging are great for storage, such as empty takeaway containers, jars of jam or sauce, and cardboard boxes. Clean out glass jars and reuse them when buying loose coffee and pasta from zero-waste shops.

Cardboard boxes can be used by households and companies for storage. They’re also useful to transport deliveries or for help when moving home. Make it your mission to find a way to save, reuse, or recycle all packaging you end up with this year so that none of it goes to landfill.

happy new year sign with leaves.

7. Start a compost pile

A great way to deal with food waste is to start a compost pile. If you’ve got a garden or even just a small back yard you could buy a compost bin or create your own heap. This is a natural way to recycle waste food and create fertiliser. Learn how to compost.

8. Donate unwanted items

This year make your motto ‘give away don’t throw away.’ Dontate clothes, toys, books, electricals, and more to charity shops, friends and family, or community groups rather than chucking them in the bin. It gives the items a new lease of life, reduces waste, and saves others money.

9. Recycle rubbish

Try to throw as little rubbish as possible into your general waste bin. Aim to check anything you’re about to dispose of with general waste and work out if you can recycle or reuse it. If you can’t recycle it in your household recycling bin, make a pile for items to take to your local household waste recycling centre (HWRC).

Workplaces should make a New Year’s resolution to increase recycling rates too. An easy way to start this is by introducing more recycling bins for different materials that are easy to access. Consider separate bins for cardboard, plastic, glass, metal, and food waste – or smaller businesses can combine with one dry mixed recycling bin.

10. Eliminate food waste

Homes and businesses can do more to reduce food waste this year. Simply buying less food is a good place to start – make a list of what you need and stick to it. Rotate food in your pantry and fridge to ensure items with the shortest date are used first before they expire.

Preparation waste is unavoidable when working with some ingredients, which is where soups are the saviour. Use vegetable peel and scraps as the base of a tasty soup rather than throwing them away. Look for other recipes where you can use leftovers to eliminate food waste and add a fresh dish to your repertoire.

11. Give up non-recyclables

Aim to avoid buying anything that can’t be recycled, reused, or donated. Stay away from food, electrical items, clothes, and other goods in non-recyclable packaging and any items made from non-recyclable materials like certain plastics. Over time you’ll start to make it a habit to check if something is recyclable or reusable, gradually giving them up.

12. Buy in bulk

Purchasing larger packets of food means the ratio of packaging to its contents is smaller, which reduces waste. It’s often cheaper in the long run to buy in bulk as well. If you’ve got storage space then stock up on dry goods such as cereals, pasta, and coffee in big boxes, which saves on the number of shopping trips too.

More ways to reduce waste

Want more ideas for ways to reduce waste in your home or business this year? Explore our expert guides and find out how to reduce specific waste types and rubbish across various industries.

How to reduce waste

Around 4 million Christmas dinners end up in the bin in the UK every year.

Christmas is one of the most anticipated times of the year for many people. Unfortunately, it’s also the most wasteful period with 270,000 tons of festive food disposed of despite being edible. All festive foods that get thrown away every year amount to filling up 7 million bins.

A significant amount ends up in landfill where it rots and releases methane, which contributes to global warming. Yet, there’s a lot people can do to avoid this. To help Britons make more sustainable decisions this Christmas, we’ve put together 6 easy tips to reduce waste food this festive season.

Read more Christmas waste facts
Christmas dinner.

How far will our Christmas 
dinner waste take us?

Christmas infographic small.

1. Turn your leftovers into soup

One of the easiest and most delicious ways to reuse your Christmas leftovers is by transforming your remaining vegetables, meats, and even grains into hearty soups or stews. It’s a great way to use up odds and ends that might otherwise be thrown away.

2. DIY a vegetable stock 

If there isn’t enough left to turn leftovers into soup, consider creating your very own vegetable stock. Vegetable scraps like onion ends, carrot peels, and herb stems can be collected and used to make a flavourful vegetable stock, reducing waste and adding a homemade touch to soups and stews.

3. Make candies out of excess fruit

If you have a surplus of fruits, consider making jams, jellies, or chutneys. For a particularly big excess of oranges, here’s a super tasty dessert you can make easily: just boil the orange peels for 10 minutes, soak them in a new bowl of water overnight, then move them to a pan, add sugar and orange juice (vanilla optional).

Stir and simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes, then remove them and let them dry on a rack. Once dried, coat them with more sugar and enjoy the sweet snack! The full recipe can be found here.

4. Revive stale bread

Turn stale bread into croutons for salads, breadcrumbs for coatings, or even a bread pudding. This is a simple way to give new life to bread that might otherwise be discarded. Another delicious option is to make bread pudding, where the stale bread’s ability to absorb flavours and custard makes for a rich, delightful dessert.

5. Use food scraps as compost

People and animals aren’t the only ones that love to feast on delicious Christmas dinners, your garden plants will also love the leftovers. Bits of fruits, vegetables, peelings and even turkey can be added to your compost pile – just ensure you cut it up first to help the decomposition process.

6. Donate what you can

If you have any leftover Christmas foods like biscuits, cakes, or mince pies that are still packaged, they make great donations for food banks. For the turkey, potatoes, and vegetables you no longer need, consider taking them to an animal shelter to feed the less fortunate dogs and kittens.

Reduce your Christmas food waste

Mark Hall, Director at Business Waste, says:

“It’s really unfortunate to see tons of Christmas food being wasted every year, with huge amounts ending up in landfill. There are plenty of ways we can still enjoy all the Christmas festivities in more sustainable ways.

If we all try to implement at least a few of the tips shared above, collectively, we could help reduce this year’s Christmas waste.”

How to reduce food waste at Christmas
food scraps on a chopping board.

The Welsh Parliament (the Senedd) passed a new law in the last week of November – the Workplace Recycling Regulations. This will change how all workplaces across the country store, manage and dispose of commercial waste from the start of April 2024.

Businesses, charities, and public and third sector organisations must separate certain recyclable materials and arrange collection away from other waste. Essentially, it means workplaces will legally have to separate paper and card, glass, packaging, food, electrical, and textile waste for recycling like most households already do.

The Senedd is making this a legal requirement to improve recycling rates in Wales and move the country closer to becoming a zero-waste nation and reducing carbon emissions. Failure to comply could result in a fine for your business.

Learn all about the new Workplace Recycling Regulations and how to prepare for them with Business Waste.

Welsh flag flying on a pole with blue sky background.

What are the Workplace Recycling 
Regulations in Wales?

The Workplace Recycling Regulations is a new law that legally requires all workplaces in Wales to separate certain waste materials and arrange collection separate from other waste. Businesses, charities, and public sector organisations will need to use bins or containers to store paper and card, glass, packaging, food, unsold small WEEE, and unsold textiles.

Workplaces will no longer be able to put all waste in a single bin if it includes any of these recyclable materials. However, you can use one bin for paper and card, and another to collect metal, plastics, and cartons (packaging) together. Glass must be collected on its own.

It also affects the disposal methods of food waste, recyclable rubbish, and waste wood. Under the new law, there’s a ban on sending:

  • Any amount of food waste to sewers
  • Wood waste to landfill
  • Any waste separated for recycling going to landfill or for incineration (except some textiles that may go to incineration plants – but not unsold textiles)

Failure to follow these new Workplace Recycling Regulations could result in a fine for your business, charity, or third sector organisation.

When are the Workplace Recycling Regulations 
in Wales being introduced?

The Workplace Recycling Regulations in Wales come into force from 6 April 2024. After this date, all businesses, charities, and public sector organisations anywhere in Wales must ensure relevant waste materials are collected separately and disposed of appropriately.

The only exceptions are NHS and private hospitals, which have an extra two years to comply with the regulations. Plans to reform workplace recycling in Wales were outlined over the summer, but the law was officially passed in the Senedd during the last week of November 2023.

Why is this new law 
being introduced?

Changes to the law around workplace recycling in Wales aim to help the country work towards becoming a zero-waste nation and reducing carbon emissions by 2050. Recycling rates for households in Wales are already high compared to most other countries. Just over 65% of materials collected by local authorities from homes are recycled.

The new Workplace Recycling Regulations aim to replicate these results for businesses and improve recycling rates in Wales across the commercial, charity, and public sectors. Separating and sorting recycling in workplaces should ensure greater volumes of high-quality recycling are produced and much less waste is sent to landfill and for incineration.

There’s also an economic boost by increasing recycling rates across Wales. It helps to keep materials in use for longer, which tackles the rising cost of materials and reduces how much landfill tax businesses pay for their waste management. Greater recycling should also create new and more job opportunities.

landfill site surrounded by green fields and hills.
It is important that this collective effort stems right from the biggest businesses and organisations to the smallest in helping to tackle the climate and nature emergency and improve recycling – Minister for Climate Change, Julie James

What waste types must 
my business separate?

Under the new Workplace Recycling Regulations, certain waste materials must be collected separately. This aims to avoid contamination and increase the quantity and quality of individual recycling streams. The following waste materials must be stored and collected separately from other rubbish:

You can’t put all your waste in one bin if any of the above materials are present. For example, you can’t throw away paper, glass, and cartons in a general waste bin. This means your business in Wales could need up to six extra bins from April 2024 to comply with the new regulations, depending on what waste types you generate.

Get help with Business Waste as we can provide a wide range of recycling bins for free to separate waste types anywhere in Wales. There are no delivery or rental charges, you just pay for collection.

Get free recycling bins for businesses in Wales

What are the food waste 
disposal regulations?

Any premises in Wales that create more than 5kg of food waste a week must arrange separate collection of their waste food, so it doesn’t go to landfill. This includes restaurants, cafes, takeaways, hotels, pubs, catering companies, and canteens in offices, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and anywhere else that serves food.

The new regulations also stipulate that workplaces must not dispose of any food waste down the sink or drain or into a public drain or sewer. You must not use a macerator or similar technology like enzyme digesters or de-waterers to dispose of food waste down the sink or drain either.

Who must follow these 
Workplace Recycling Regulations?

Every workplace in Wales is required to follow the new Workplace Recycling Regulations. This includes businesses, charities, and public sector organisations. The occupiers of a workplace must ensure recycling is separated for collection and the new law is followed whether you own, lease, rent, or temporarily occupy the premises.

For any workplace in a shared location, the individual organisations are responsible for complying with the regulations. If a central recycling system is required then you might need an agreement in place with the landlord or facilities manager. The regulations also cover waste and recycling collectors and processors who manage household-like waste from workplaces.

The new workplace recycling law applies to all workplaces in Wales, including:

How will the new workplace 
recycling law be enforced?

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) will be responsible for overseeing the separation requirements for recycling materials and the ban on waste going to incineration and landfill is upheld. Local Authorities in Wales will regulate the ban on food waste disposal in sewers from workplaces within their regions. Failure to comply with the new regulations could lead to a fine for your organisation.

How to prepare for the 
Workplace Recycling Regulations in Wales

The earlier your organisation prepares for these new regulations, the easier it will be to ensure compliance and avoid the risk of a fine. As with any commercial waste collection, only licensed waste carriers must remove and handle the rubbish your organisation produces. To ensure it’s managed responsibly you should receive a duty of care certificate.

A few key steps to prepare for the Workplace Recycling Regulations in Wales:

  • Conduct a waste audit – assess the types and amounts of waste you produce on a daily and weekly basis. This should identify any rubbish materials you create that fall within the new regulations and whether you need extra bins to collect them separately in your workplace.
  • Contact your waste collector – speak to your current waste collector to ensure they can collect and recycle your separated waste. If they can’t you should contact other commercial waste management firms to find a suitable and cost-effective service and solution to comply with the new regulations.
  • Reduce waste and reuse materials – look for any ways to reduce how much waste your organisation produces. This could be through reusing materials or adapting processes to be more efficient. Reducing waste could mean there’s less to separate and you won’t need as many collections.
  • Train employees on the new law – explain to your staff about the new law well in advance and make their obligations clear. Putting a waste management policy in place, having clear posters near bins, and creating training materials can help ensure recyclable rubbish and other relevant waste are separated in line with the new law.
  • Get the right bins in place – your audit results should highlight the bins you need to separate all relevant waste types. Request the best sizes and types of bins with an efficient collection schedule to avoid a build-up of rubbish and the risk of recyclables being placed in the wrong bins. Put them in an accessible spot for employees and customers too.

Claim free bins for Welsh businesses

At Business Waste we can help organisations in Wales comply with the new law with our commercial waste services. We provide free bins to separate your recycling and ensure it’s recycled away from landfill and incineration – you only pay for collection. Licensed waste carriers will remove your waste and you receive a free duty of care certificate too.

Get a free quote for recycling and waste collection in Wales today – call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online.

Claim free recycling bins for businesses in Wales

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.

Explore our Christmas waste guides 
Christmas dinner table set up with champagne glasses.

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.

Discover what to do with an old Christmas tree

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.

Discover 20 sustainable Christmas gift ideas

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.

Learn all about Christmas card recycling
Christmas card on a table in front of a Christmas tree.

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.

Plan a low waste Christmas party

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.

Read our guide to sustainable Christmas decorations
homemade Christmas wreath.

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.

How to reduce food waste at Christmas

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.

How to recycle and reuse advent calendars

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.

woman struggling with a broken umbrella in the rain.

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.

Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online for a free quote to collect and dispose of your commercial umbrella waste.

Get a free quote
broken parasol on a beach in the wind.

How to fix a 
broken umbrella

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.

Donate online
Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow.

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
Physically this will be my toughest challenge as I have not been able to do the amount of training that I have done previously because of my commitments for the World Cup and we have set an ambitious time target to complete each ultra so people know that we will be pushing ourselves to the limit.
Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield holding Doddie shirt.

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).
I am looking forward to it and seeing all the support out on the streets once again. For the MND community, every second counts and we will be making the most of every step on this challenge to raise awareness, funds and support for that community.

How can I donate?

There are a few easy ways to donate and support Sinfield and the fight against MND:

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.

Kevin Sinfield 7 in 7 in 7 challenge shirts.

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. 

small bonfire burning.

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!”

bonfire.

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.

These include:

  • 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.

How to have a zero waste Bonfire Night

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.

bonfire night scene.

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.
people watching public bonfire and fireworks.

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.
Learn about ash disposal
bonfire of burning pallets.

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.
Discover how to reduce food waste

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 with these answers to your common questions.

Note: Simpler Recycling reforms are not currently in force and the proposed changes and timeline could change. Below is all the current information and expected dates about the plans available. You can find more information on the UK government website.

wheelie bin in front of a house.

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 
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.

food waste bin next to a fence on driveway.

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[1]. A warm September and early October helped ripen the fruits at the right time too[2]. 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.”

giant pumpkins on sale in a supermarket.

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[3]. 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.”

Discover what to do with pumpkins after Halloween
pumpkins of all sizes on a bale of hay.

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.”

Discover tips to have a low waste Halloween

Read our latest news

Business waste logo and photo of a bin

Sustainable Company

The study participants included business owners and company employees, revealing unexpected findings about corporate environmental practices.

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[1]. However, balloon sticks are responsible for less than 1% of litter on beaches and a tiny amount of the country’s overall plastic waste[2]. 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.”

happy birthday balloon on a plastic balloon stick.

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[3] 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[4].

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[5]. Eating and getting tangled up in plastic affects around 700 marine species[6]. 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.

Learn about crisp packet disposal

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[7]. 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.”

red, purple, and orange balloons.

Read our latest news

Business waste logo and photo of a bin

Sustainable Company

The study participants included business owners and company employees, revealing unexpected findings about corporate environmental practices.

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.

AI robot hand touching human hand.

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.

waste truck on street in UK.

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.

asteroids in space with earth and spaceship.

Read the latest waste news

Business waste logo and photo of a bin

Sustainable Company

The study participants included business owners and company employees, revealing unexpected findings about corporate environmental practices.

digital product passport QR code in tongue of a shoe.

What is a Digital Product Passport?

A digital product passport (DPP) shows data about an item’s environmental impact. Find out what digital product passports are and why they’re sustainable.

aeroplane flying through the sky.

How to Have a Low-waste Flight

Food, packaging, and many single-use items are all thrown away when flying. Discover how to have a low-waste flight on your next trip with these tips.

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.

candles in jars burning.

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.

candle in a glass jar.

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.

candle tea lights.

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.

Find out more about general waste
Business waste logo and photo of a bin

Sustainable Company

The study participants included business owners and company employees, revealing unexpected findings about corporate environmental practices.

digital product passport QR code in tongue of a shoe.

What is a Digital Product Passport?

A digital product passport (DPP) shows data about an item’s environmental impact. Find out what digital product passports are and why they’re sustainable.

aeroplane flying through the sky.

How to Have a Low-waste Flight

Food, packaging, and many single-use items are all thrown away when flying. Discover how to have a low-waste flight on your next trip with these tips.

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.

wood timber roof.

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.
Explore all types of hazardous waste

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.

old wooden door in building.

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.

logs piled up in barn.

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.

Waste wood collection

Three in ten admit to stealing plastic bags 
from supermarkets

Why spend 10p when you can nab it for free? Are we a nation of petty criminals?

In a petty crime spree that should shock the nation, a third of Britons say they steal plastic bags from the tills at supermarkets rather than pay for them.

What started in 2015 as a bid to cut down on plastic pollution, the 5p plastic bag charge has since doubled to 10p, and that’s proved too much for some customers, according to a UK waste recycling company. Some retailers charge even more, usually for more luxurious bags.

A new poll (of 1200) conducted by UK waste experts BusinessWaste.co.uk has revealed that 3 in 10 people admit to pinching carrier bags instead of paying up in a national wave of petty theft.

Company spokesman Mark Hall warns: “People may not like having to pay for them, but you definitely should not be stealing them!

“We’ve heard all sorts of reasons (or should we say ‘excuses’?) from people, and we’re shocked to the very core.”

So why are people stealing plastic bags?

Is it laziness? Forgetfulness? Staunch defiance of the rules? If you answered “all of the above”, you win a carrier bag.

Mark Hall says: “We asked the more light-fingered respondents to our poll to elaborate as to why they don’t bother paying for plastic bags, and it’s fair to say we received an *ahem* mixed bag of responses.”

“I already have millions under my kitchen sink, and there is absolutely no way any shop is seeing another penny out of me to add to the collection.”
“I usually bring my trusty tote bag, but on the odd occasion I forget, I don’t see the point in paying for a carrier bag. I’m not the kind of person who uses them much, so I don’t see why it’s fair when I’m already doing my bit by choosing reusable bags most of the time.”
“My dog destroys all the carrier bags he finds, so I always have to buy new ones. And I’m not being funny but this does add up.”
“I’m not made of money, and do shops really expect me to juggle my shopping? It’s ridiculous.”
“I’ll be honest, it gives me a bit of a buzz every time I build up the nerve to just take a plastic bag. Besides it’s not really stealing is it, I mean it’s only 10p here and there. No harm done.”
“I bet they don’t even cost a penny each to make, so it’s a shameless money-grabbing markup for the shops. Total scam, and it’s almost a victimless crime”
Alex from Reading pays for his plastic bags but does admit that some retailers are taking the mick by charging a small fortune for a bag for life – “I accidentally bought a reusable bag in Waitrose and it was FIVE POUNDS. I’m still furious about this. What’s worse is that I’ve since lost it.”

Well Alex, it pays to be prepared and bring one of the many carrier bags you undoubtedly have stashed away in a cupboard somewhere – but kudos for being a law-abiding citizen!

Turning your forgetfulness into a charitable donation

While 226 million plastic bags are purchased every year in the UK [1], many retailers have made the decision to scrap selling single-use carrier bags and instead only offer bags of life. That, hopefully, will mean less plastic going to landfill.

But yet again, the price of these bags for life vary depending on which retailer you go to, so see where your shop of choice ranks below[2]:

Asda – 20p
Aldi – 25p
Tesco – 30p
Sainsbury’s – 30p
Waitrose – 50p
Morrisons – 60p
So what happens to all this money collected by shops from plastic bag sales? Is it lining the pockets of some head-honcho in an office?

Actually, for the most part a lot of retailers have set up schemes where the money collected goes to charities, and around £9.2 million pounds a year goes from carrier bag sales to good causes. [3]

Some retailers donate to national causes, while others let the local branches of their stores decide which local charity will benefit which means that each bag sold can actually make a small difference to your community.

Business Waste’s Mark Hall says “While it’s always better to be prepared and reuse the bags you already have, at least it softens the blow of having to shell out for a bag if you know that the money is going to a good cause.”

“And if you are part of the 30% who have admitting to nicking one, then technically you’re stealing from charity. It is not a victimless crime.”

And you know who else you’re robbing? Mother Earth and her precious resource, that’s who. Have a think about that next time you get itchy fingers in the supermarket.

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?

over shoulder of man using Google on laptop with a coffee.

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.”

“If few people are looking up how to recycle things like plastic bottles and bags, then it’s no surprise that recycling rates in the UK aren’t improving.”

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:

how to recycle search terms chart.

People use different terms and phrases to search for recycling-related information, so we looked at some general recycling search volumes too. There were more of these. But given 92% of people in the UK use the internet and there are around 5.5 million businesses, it’s still very low.

recycling search terms chart.

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.”

Just a handful wanting to know how to recycle plastic bottles suggests recycling has fallen down the list of priorities

These are some of the most searched-for ‘how to…’ terms every month in the UK:

how to search terms chart.

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.

Better education and awareness about what materials are recyclable and how to recycle common items for households and businesses is essential to achieve these goals.

“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.

As a general guide for trends and public interest, the low search volumes for many recycling terms are concerning.
Learn about commercial recycling

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.

food waste in a wheelie bin.

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 
consultation results

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%.
What happens to food waste?

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.

food waste in a kitchen sink.

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.

food waste on plates in a restaurant.

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.

Get in touch for a free quote for commercial food waste collection today – contact us online or call 0800 211 8390. One of our friendly team can answer any questions, help improve your commercial food waste management, and advise on reporting.

Learn more about commercial food waste management

Should fast-food chains pay 
for extra litter pick up?

When it comes to food and drink on-the-go, boy are we spoilt for choice in the UK, and we also seem to do our best to spoil our towns and countryside as we go.

Some of the biggest brands we all know and love are among the worst culprits for creating a huge amount of litter, which is costing local councils a small fortune to constantly clear up.

BusinessWaste.co.uk – the UK’s waste collection company – believe it’s time that these big chains paid extra for the rubbish their businesses create.

Every where you look, it’s the same brand names you see littering the streets up and down the UK, and it’s time they took some responsibility for this. It’s their trash so they need to cough up the cash

The scores on the floors

Fast-food litter is a broad term which covers all types of food that are consumed outside and disposed of incorrectly, which can be anything including plastic bottles, sweet wrappers, and food containers.

So while we love our ‘on-the-go’ food and drink brands because of how convenient they are, the packaging from takeaways or meal-deals is creating chaos for our waste collectors across the UK.

Just how much fast-food litter are we dealing with?

BusinessWaste.co.uk have taken a deep (bin)dive into just how loyal we Brits are to our consumable brands, and just what this means in terms of rubbish littering our country.

* On average, McDonald’s serves over 3.8 million customers a day in the UK. This means millions of wrappers, boxes, and soft drink cups are being disposed of daily.
* Coca-Cola produces 2.5 billion soft drink cans a year in the UK – including fan favourites Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper, and of course, Coca-Cola. 
* Walkers produces over 11 million packets of crisps a day, which means over 4 billion packets being produced and consumed a year.
* More than 2 billion Nestle products are sold in the UK every year, with 97% of UK households buying their products, including popular items such as Kit-Kats, Nescafe coffee, and Buxton water.

Hall – Our love of these trusted brands is an environmental nightmare, as many of the top selling products in the UK are made out of non-sustainable packaging such as plastic and foil.

And lets not forgot about the billion rubber bands the royal mail litters each year.

What’s the cost
and what can we do?

The bill for litter cleaning up and down the UK currently costs local authorities around £586 million a year, which of course is money raised straight from the tax payer.

Business Waste don’t think this is fair on local councils and tax payers to have to pay when they aren’t the ones profiting from the sale of these goods, especially as consumers are often stuck for choice when it comes to making a sustainable choice when buying fast-food.

Hall: “Consumers have no choice as to what packaging their favourite products come in, so if the big brands don’t want to be eco-friendly then they should have to reach into their pockets to pay for the inevitable amount of waste their items produce.

“This could be the incentive they need to become more environmentally friendly.”

So what can we do to clamp down on the fast-food litter that is taking over our streets?

Some brands such as McDonald’s have partnered with local councils by organising daily litter picks with their staff around stores and have done for years. Some stores such as in Dagenham have agreed to up the number of litter picks to four times a day covering a half mile radius around the shop.

And the government are cracking down on fast-food litter too, by introducing new guidance for new applications made by franchises including installing more bins around takeaways to reduce the amount of rubbish. [7]

But Business Waste believe that ultimately, introducing charges for these brands is the best way to stop the amount of rubbish they create, and save local councils from having to foot the bill to clear it up.

It’s time to hit these brands where they will feel it most, in their bank balance. Money talks, so hopefully these proposed fees will say “please stop littering our streets”

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.

Old Trafford football stadium.

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

Premiership recycling 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.

Sustainability improvements 
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.”

football on the pitch in the foreground of a stadium.

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.

Business waste logo and photo of a bin

Sustainable Company

The study participants included business owners and company employees, revealing unexpected findings about corporate environmental practices.

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.

food and drinks packaging waste in a bin.

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
food packaging on shelves in a supermarket.

How does extended producer 
responsibility work?

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.

Find out what to collect for EPR

When will EPR legislation 
be introduced?

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.

Prepare for the single use plastic ban
packages and boxes on shelves in a warehouse.

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.

Learn about plastic packaging tax

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.
boxes piled up in a storeroom.

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.

Learn more about packaging waste

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.

old grey four-seater sofa on the street.

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
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are harmful toxic chemical substances

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
  • Armchairs
  • Kitchen and dining room chairs
  • Stools and footstools
  • Home office chairs
  • Bean bags, floor and sofa cushions
Furniture disposal and recycling

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
  • Cables
  • LCD screens
  • Cathode ray tubes (CRTs)
  • Ni-Cad batteries
  • Fluorescent tubes
lots of old printers piled up.

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
  • Deckchairs
  • Mattresses, curtains, blinds, and beds
  • Newly manufactured domestic seating (post-2019) that the manufacturer can demonstrate doesn’t contain POPs

POPs regulation

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.

old armchair in a garage.

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.

Get your free quote

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.

woman with Starbucks iced coffee in plastic cup and straw.

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.

How to recycle disposable cutlery

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:

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.

Learn about polystyrene recycling
empty plastic cup on the floor in a field.

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.
plastic fork with food wrapper.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
paper coffee cup with lid sat on a table.

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.

Learn about plastic recycling

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.

five wheelie bins in a row in the snow.

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:

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.

Explore all wheelie bin hire options
blue four wheel bin in front of a metal fence.

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.

grey wheelie bin by the side of the road waiting for collection in fog.

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.

Get your free bespoke quote for wheelie bins today – call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online.

Discover our range of wheelie bins

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.

files of documents stacked up.

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.

Learn about ash waste disposal

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.

Arrange confidential waste disposal

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.
cutting through piece of paper with scissors.

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.

Learn about shredded paper recycling
washing machine next to shelves and plant pot.

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.

Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online for your tailored free quote for confidential waste collection and disposal anywhere in the UK today.

Use our confidential shredding service

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.

woman's hands typing on a laptop.

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 
be tracked?

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 
being introduced?

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).
fly tipping on a field.

How will digital waste 
tracking work?

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.

Mandatory digital waste tracking policy paper

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.

range of different vape types in a laboratory.

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 about 9 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.

many boxes of vapes on a shelf in a shop.

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.
hands of person refilling a vape.

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.

How to comply with vape recycling 
legislation as a business

Businesses that sell vapes must legally provide an option for customers to dispose of them in line with the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulations. Any shop or other business that sells more than £100,000 of vapes must provide an in-store solution where vape customers can dispose of products on a one-for-one basis.

Signing up to a compliance scheme is a safe way to ensure this. Contact us at Business Waste for more information. Failure to comply could lead to a fine of up to £5,000. To ensure you’re compliant you must also:

  • Provide and display information to customers about the take back service you offer – find out more on the government website.
  • Keep a record of all WEEE items you collect and dispose of.
  • Maintain records of how you tell customers about your take back scheme.

For any shops or companies that sell less than £100,000 of vapes you should sign up to the Distributor Takeback Scheme (DTS). A charge applies for this based on your shop’s size and your sales. The DTS provides an exemption from the in store take back requirement of WEEE (including vapes) when a new equivalent EEE item (a vape) is bought.

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:

man smoking a vape with one hand.

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.

Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online for a free quote for WEEE collections anywhere in the UK.

Contact us today Learn more about WEEE recycling

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.

crowd at festival in front of stage at night.

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.

festival crowd with flare in front of stage.

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.

Separate types 
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.

Encourage recycling 

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.

How to reduce waste at events
three plastic reusable cups full of beer at a 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.

backs of three people sat in front of big tent at a 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).

woman with plastic cup of beer dancing at a festival.

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.

Explore event waste management services

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.

small foil Easter eggs in bunny bowl next to daisies.

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.
How to reduce packaging waste
small chocolate eggs in coloured foil in bowl.

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 
packaging recycled?

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.
Easter waste facts
chocolate bunny with foil packaging half ripped off.

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
Easter crafting with eggs and chicken.

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.
two kids with baskets of easter eggs.

Make your own 
Easter treats

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.

Create homemade 
Easter cards

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.

Select sustainable 
Easter decorations

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.

flowers in vase and easter decorations.

Prepare a low waste 
Easter feast

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?

Explore more Easter waste guides

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.

stack of pancakes on flowery plate.

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 
pancake waste

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.

plate of golden brown 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.
pancakes with blueberries on top and Nutella jar in background.

What to do with 
leftover pancakes

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.

Find out more about food waste

National Pizza Day is on the 9th of February

Massive campaign to rid Britain of this greatest of all culinary blasphemies

If there’s one thing we all agree on, it’s that putting pineapple on pizza is one of the greatest sins ever committed in the name of cooking.

And that’s why one British waste company is launching a national campaign to have this culinary blasphemy deleted from takeaway menus across the country, and – if necessary – naming and shaming the guilty parties.

While some people might think this a bit extreme, it’s clear that there’s a growing wave of public disgust at the Hawaiian Pizza, UK waste management company Businesswaste.co.uk says.

“Every time you order a Hawaiian, a pizza chef loses a tiny piece of his soul,” says Businesswaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “and if we do not act now there’ll be no room left for proper British creations like Chicken Tikka Masala pizza and Full English Breakfast pizza.”

“These people need to be stopped.”

pineapple pizza bin.

A permanent holiday for the Hawaiian Pizza

A 2017 YouGov poll claimed that an unhealthy 53% enjoyed pineapple on pizza, while 41% said they disliked it (the rest said ‘don’t know, and we’ve no time for fence-sitters). However, it appears attitudes have hardened in the intervening six years.

Our own informal poll carried out among over 1000 Business Waste customers in December 2022 found just a single respondent saying that they liked a crafty Hawaiian pizza, while a staggering 85% saying that pineapple on pizza should “get in the bin”.

Once again there were a umber of fence-sitters who claimed not to eat pizza, and we are minded to respect their life choices without further comment.
And that’s why Businesswaste.co.uk is launching its campaign to eradicate the Hawaiian.

“It’s not even from Hawaii,” says Businesswaste.co.uk’s Mark Hall, “It’s from Canada, and frankly they should apologise to the United Nations”.

It’s a call with international backing, with Iceland’s president Guðni Th. Jóhannesson saying that he would actually ban pineapple on pizza if he had the power to do so. He eventually rolled back on his proposal, presumably under pressure from Big Pineapple.

And an expert analysis on the legal situation called the Hawaiian “a barbaric practice that violates the very essence of morality, humanity, culinary dignity of all peoples and good taste”, and it doesn’t get any blunter than that.

Food waste – the facts

So we think it is time to name and shame those who promote pineapple on pizza, and a list sprinkled with a few celebrity names, maintained by the relevant HM Government department, should be enough to turn the tide on the Mrs Brown’s Boys of cooking.

“And don’t get us started on anchovies, and people who eat their pizza crust first,” says Businesswaste.co.uk’s Mark Hall. “We’d draw the line at calling them weird, but it’s just another level of pizza wrongness we just don’t need.”

A pizza the action

The UK pizza takeaway market is worth 3.3billion pounds per year, and about 49% of the British public say they are pizza eaters.

The most popular topping is pepperoni, a safe choice that is a launchpad to more exotic tastes.
London, unsurprisingly, eats the most pizza, an estimated 288,000 being sold in the capital daily.
And YES, you can put your pizza box in the recycling, as long as it doesn’t contain any food waste. Any spare grease comes out in the recycling process.
With tens of millions sold every year in the UK, that’s an awful lot of cardboard boxes not being recycled because of this untrue myth.

But one thing is true: A quarter of people don’t eat the pizza crust, saying that it’s either “too filling” or that they just don’t like them.

It’s a finding backed up by our own informal poll which discovered that waste pizza is routinely thrown straight into the bin, still in the box, rather than being separated and put in respective recycling containers. What a waste.

“Once again, that’s millions of recyclable cardboard boxes going to landfill every year,” says Mark Hall, “and that’s a thing that needs to stop almost as much as pineapple on pizza.”

“Say NO to pineapple on pizza, and say YES to recycling your waste.”

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.

flowers candles and macaroons spread out.

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.
two valentine's day cards on wooden table.

Zero-waste Valentine’s 
Day gifts

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.
bouquet of five red roses in bloom.

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.

View 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.

man writing on sheet of paper.

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
chemical poured into lab container.

Who provides 
MSDS certificates?

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 
an MSDS

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:

  1. Product and company identification – the product name, code, catalogue number, manufacturer/supplier name and contact number.
  2. Hazards identification – substance/mixture classification, potential health effects, and information about other hazards.
  3. Composition – information on the ingredients including hazardous chemical components, by-products, and impurities.
  4. First aid measures – actions to take if exposed to hazardous material, such as the symptoms and effects, and any immediate medical attention/special treatment.
  5. Firefighting measures – fire hazards of the product and the process to put it out, for help using the right type of fire extinguisher.
  6. Accidental release measures – how to respond to a spill or release, environmental precautions, containment and clean-up methods and materials.
  7. Handling and storage – how to safely store and handle the product.
  8. Exposure controls and personal protection – control and exposure guidelines, details of any required PPE.
  9. Physical and chemical properties – details about the basic physical and chemical properties of the product.
  10. Stability and reactivity – information about any conditions where the material could be unstable and cause a reaction.
  11. Toxicological information – toxicity details of the ingredients or product as a whole.
  12. Ecological information – information about the environmental impact of the material if released (on soil, water, wildlife etc.).
  13. Disposal considerations – waste treatment methods and disposal information.
  14. Transport information – details about precautions during shipping, an identification number, and environmental hazards for those shipping the material.
  15. Regulatory information – health, safety, and regulation information specific to the product to ensure compliance.
  16. 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.

Speak to our friendly and expert team for help with any MSDS and waste your business produces – contact us online or call 0800 211 8390. We can answer any questions you may have and help arrange commercial waste collection to dispose of even the trickiest waste types efficiently.

Get a free quote

Learn more about 
hazardous waste disposal

Table of contents

Overview
The UK’s situation
Hazardous wastes and their regulation
Recycling and energy conversion
Landfilling
Following the waste flow
Future perspectives
References

Overview

Nowadays, our consumeristic culture has led to rates of purchasing that have not been seen before and this has led to an increased turnover of items being thrown away. Public awareness of the importance of waste management has emerged although relatively late. Thanks to the growing sensitivity to environmental and climate issues, a common thread linking these issues have become apparent.

The UK’s current waste management situation

England has made huge steps under this perspective to face a waste pile increasing year after year. The latest report from the government indeed states that this country passed from the 168 million tonnes of total waste produced in 2010 to the 187.3 million tonnes of 2018. England accounts for 84% of the UK’s yield, whose 63% is constituted by the categories ‘mineral wastes’ (e.g., stones, bricks, road surface’s components) and ‘soils’ (earthen materials). Such a high value reflects the predominant impact of demolition, construction, excavation, and other industrial activities. In the UK, waste collection is supported by an efficient (made up of mostly private companies) service system. This is evident in England at county and town levels. Local government authorities benefit from a certain degree of independence in this respect and can administer solutions to specific local needs in the form of services or new installations to aid the recycling and processing of waste. Private companies often manage these public utilities.

Hazardous wastes and their regulation

Despite representing a minimal proportion of the waste produced (between 4 to 5 million tonnes in England), hazardous wastes must be handled consciously. All have industrial origins and are subdivided into six classes: general industry, water treatments, construction and demolition, oils, and chemicals. In England, these rejects are rigidly regulated according to the Government’s Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management. At the international level, the legislation on this subject originates from the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their disposal and an Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Council Decision on the Control of Transfrontier Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations. OECD protects countries external to the European Free Trade Area from the indiscriminate transfer of wastes. Besides, this organization regulates the transport of rejects across its area following environmentally-driven principles.

Recycling and energy conversion

To cope with this surging problem, the UK is progressively replacing a linear dead-end approach with a circular strategy for waste management. As of 2018, recycling or other forms of recovery involved over 50% of the total waste production. To bring this matter closer to the general audience, it is noteworthy that one third of recycling concerns typical household materials. These have been categorized in the following classes: residual waste, 55%; dry recycling, 27%; unspecified organics, 16%; and separately collected food waste, 2%. Additionally, leftovers directed to energy-recovery treatments have surpassed incineration facilities without R1 accreditation in 2018. In this regard, domestic wastes appear to be suitable for energy conversion, constituting 80% of the total amount transiting through recovery facilities. Moreover, energy conversion commonly referred to as waste to energy ‘kills two birds with one stone’ since it offers a profitable outlet option to materials that are not available for reuse or recycling and require dismantling. In parallel, the average consumer shall be content to know that his/her household rejects represent ‘only’ 34% of what becomes incinerated. As a remarkable example of the possibility to efficiently dispose of household rejects, 44.7% of England’s domestic wastes have been reused, composted, or recycled in 2018. Overall, this corresponds to make 176 kg out of 394 kg of rejects produced per capita available again.

landfill UK 2021
Landfill 2021

On the other hand, landfilling is placed at the second position in the list of waste processings, accounting for 23.6% of the entire waste production in 2018. ‘Soils’ and ‘mineral wastes’ play a dominant role here (58% and 6%), while household materials are present with a minor fraction (10%). Therefore, wastes other than leftovers are unfortunately subjected to this destiny. Also, ‘soils’ materials make up 90% of the backfilling materials. Regardless, newly stipulated policies are intended to decrease the relevance of landfills as waste outputs. As a result, energy recovery facilities with R1 accreditation have increased from 37 to 40 in two years (2016-2018), and the waste tonnages treated have followed a proportional positive trend.

Following and understanding the flow of waste in the UK

Understandably, not all waste types can be tracked according to the Waste from Households (WfH) protocol, which thus is considered to yield only indicative estimates. For instance, this method cannot register wastes derived from healthcare, street filth, and gully drainages. Asbestos, plasterboard, and rubble are not assessed as well. Moreover, individual UK countries can apply distinct protocols and measure different parameters. For example, certain packaging rejects may be over- or under-represented depending on the step of the manufacturing chain at which they are evaluated. Ambiguity might also exist regarding the precise definition of ‘recovery’ versus ‘recycling’, like in the case of metal wastes subjected to incineration. Shifting the focus locally, commercial companies can voluntarily register in the national electronic duty of care (EDOC) system, which enables tracking rejects along the production sequence. To date, more than 11’000 firms adhere to this system.

Future perspectives and goals

Despite the commendable efforts carried out by the UK, much remains to be done. However, at least on paper, some good news is on the horizon. The UK promulgated the 25 Year Environment Plan to preserve the natural landscape’s quality and biodiversity over an intergenerational period. This plan stands on top of the hierarchy formed by the other policies related to such issues (e.g., Resources and Waste Strategy, Waste Prevention Programme for England, Waste Management Plan for England). It has ambitious goals, such as a drastic reduction of carbon emission and international agreements. On a smaller scale, the whole policy system proposes to enhance domestic recycling in different ways. For example, it promotes the door-to-door collection of dry leftovers, the separation of garden wastes, and the weekly gathering of alimentary wastes. Ultimately, these measures are expected to substantially raise the fraction of household recycling, reaching up to 65% before 2035.

References

– HM Government (2018) A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment. Available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications (Accessed: 27/09/2021).
– Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, Government Statistical Service (2021) UK Statistics on Waste. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-waste-data (Accessed: 27/09/2021).
– Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (2021) Waste Management Plan for England. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/waste-management-plan-for-england-2021 (Accessed: 27/09/2021).

If you’re an established business, start-up or otherwise new to looking after your companies waste, chances are the commercial waste industry is causing you some confusion. Not only does it go by various names (including waste management, trade waste, waste disposal and business waste), but there are different types of waste to consider, too. Paper waste, general waste, recycling, dry mixed recycling, clinical waste, plastic waste and cardboard are all processed differently. As such, there can be different disposal costs for each separate waste type, and in certain circumstances, you may need more than one commercial waste solution, depending on the type of waste your organisation generates.

This guide is here to explain everything and you can always call the business waste team for any advice.

How much commercial waste is there in the UK?

It is estimated that businesses in the UK are responsible for the generation of 27.5 million tonnes of commercial waste and 13.6 million tonnes of “industrial” waste every year – a whopping total of 41.1 million tonnes.

Commercial organisations create almost twice as much waste as households, which means there’s much greater demand for commercial waste disposal. If you’re running a business then you will have to arrange for commercial waste collections and do some research into what this costs. The processing of waste can be a significant cost for businesses of all sizes.

Naturally, these sorts of administrative tasks can feel like a bit of a distraction, particularly when there’s a company to run and money to be made – but nevertheless, correct disposal of your commercial waste is incredibly important. Whether you’re getting rid of rubble from a construction site, food waste from a restaurant or documents from an office, it all needs to go somewhere.

Before signing a contract with a commercial waste disposal company, you and the other decision-makers in your organisation should familiarise yourselves with what you can expect your waste disposal solution to cover, what the must-haves from a disposal company are, and if there are any hidden costs you should be wary of.

When choosing a waste collection company you must ensure they have a Waste Carrier Licence

What is a waste carriers licence?

A Waste Carrier Licence is a legal document, which allows a business to buy, sell, dispose and/or transport waste, or arrange for others to do so on their behalf. It essentially covers the carrying of waste in a commercial vehicle. If you legally require a WCL and do not have one, you could face a fine of up to £5,000. Business Waste LTD has a higher tier waste carriers licence.

What are the different types of waste carriers licences?

There are two tiers of Waste Carrier Licence. The type of waste carried will determine which licence is required. Vehicles which carry construction waste (everything from rubble to empty silicone tubes) require an Upper Tier licence. Other forms of waste (such as office documentation) are covered under a Lower Tier licence.

How much does a waste carriers licence cost?

Lower Tier waste producers can usually apply for a free licence. Upper Tier licences cost £154 in England and Wales. Costs may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Who issues the waste carriers licence?

The UK government is responsible for the issuing of the Waste Carrier Licence.

What happens if my waste management company doesn’t have a Waste Carrier Licence?

If your waste management solution is processing waste without the requisite documentation, and you are aware of this, your company could fall foul of the law and face a fine of up to £5,000. Before agreeing to a contract with a waste disposal company, you should always request to see their WCL.

Here is a copy of Business Waste LTD higher tier waste carriers licence registration number CBDU49243

What are my legal obligations regarding waste disposal?

All businesses have a duty of care to keep waste to a minimum by doing everything to prevent the creation of waste. Businesses must also make a reasonable effort to reuse, recycle and recover waste.

How can I tell if a waste disposal company is legitimate?

When searching for a waste disposal solution, chances are you will come across many lead generation websites. These websites will simply sell your data – usually to unscrupulous businesses who are unable to generate their own custom, due to poor reviews.

Lead generation sites often masquerade as genuine businesses or price comparison companies. Be wary though – these firms only want your data so they can sell it to the highest bidder with no regard to the quality of service you receive. Such companies certainly do not compare thousands of prices on your behalf. There are only a handful of local waste companies in each area and a small number of national waste disposal operators – don’t get tricked into giving your data away.

Should I check online reviews for a waste company?

Taking the time to read online reviews of the services provided by prospective waste management companies will save you lots of future wasted time, energy, stress and money. Remember that each company will give you the “sell” and make the same promises. Search the internet for reviews on a waste company before going ahead with them and ask for references or testimonials from their existing customers if you can.

Beware of hidden costs

In all industries, there are those who look to exploit. The waste management trade is no exception. Here are some of the tricks you should be aware of that unscrupulous companies will try to pull. Although these practices are not strictly illegal, they are however unethical.

Bin weight limitsWeight limits are in place to encourage companies to develop more pragmatic approaches to how they deal with waste. By placing limits on the amount of waste a company can send to landfill, it encourages recycling, reusing of materials and the prevention of excess waste generation.

What are the weight limits for each wheelie bin size?

Waste limits are currently as follows:

    1. 240 Litres of General Waste equals 10kg
    1. 360 Litres of General Waste equals 15kg
    1. 660 Litres of General Waste equals 35kg
    1. 1100 Litres of General Waste equals 65kg
    1. 240 Litres of Mixed Recycling (Dry) equals 10kg
    1. 360 Litres of Mixed Recycling (Dry) equals 15kg
    1. 660 Litres of Mixed Recycling (Dry) equals 20kg
    1100 Litres of Mixed Recycling (Dry) equals 35kg

You will be charged at up to 18p per additional kg over this allowance. If you are being charged more than this, you are paying too much.

How much does a wheelie bin cost?

Some bad companies will charge you ongoing fees for renting out wheelie bins to your company.

Note – Business waste provides customers with FREE bins so a wheelie bin should costs you £0.

Duty of care certificate – why do you need it?

Under UK law, your organisation has a legal obligation and duty of care to get and keep a waste transfer note which documents every load of waste that leaves your business premises. Your waste management company should provide you with this FREE OF CHARGE. Be very wary of any company which wants to charge you for the provision of a waste transfer note. These have to be provided by law.

Read more on waste transfer notes and see an example.

Bin Insurance – is it really insurance?

Some companies include a statutory fee for bin insurance. This is rarely an actual insurance policy and is simply a means of increasing your overall fees. If your waste management company includes bin insurance on your invoice, don’t be afraid to query them over this and ask for the actual insurance policy documents, odds are it is a completely made up and fake charge – or better still, switch to a company like BusinessWaste.co.uk who have no hidden extras.

Does the waste company offer a price match promise?

Any reputable company will have a price guarantee in place. When searching for quotes, it’s often the case that some companies take more time than others to respond, and a situation may arise where you’ve agreed on a price with one waste management contractor, only to be offered a better deal by another a day later.

Your commercial waste disposal company should be willing to foster a good working relationship with your organisation – which means price-matching their competitors. BusinessWaste.co.uk has a 14 day written price match guarantee.

What are the different types of waste collection?

There are two common types of commercial waste collection –

One-off collections – such as the removal of waste after moving offices or renovating

Contractual ongoing collections – removal of the regular collection of commercial waste generated by your business. Collections can take place on a weekly/fortnightly/monthly basis.

How much does waste collection cost?

There are no set-in-stone prices for waste collection as there are so many factors to consider. These include the following:

Landfill tax – to encourage recycling, the government imposes a tax on all waste disposed of at a landfill site.

Gate fees – waste processing facilities, such as recycling plants and landfill sites, charge a gate fee. The average UK gate fee weighs in at approximately £6 per tonne.

Rebates – certain types of waste like glass, cardboard, metal and alloy has scrap value and can be potentially be sold for a small profit for this you would need very large volumes measured in multiple tons in order to get a rebate.

What are the different type of waste that can be collected?

The main waste types are;

Food waste
Pharmaceutical waste
Clinical waste management
Confidential waste disposal
Hazardous waste disposal
Paper recycling
Glass recycling
Plastic recycling
Cardboard recycling
Sanitary waste
Liquid waste
Packaging waste recycling
WEE recycling
Hospital waste management
Shredding
Waste oil collectionTOP TIP – look for a supplier who can look after all your waste, this way you don’t have endless invoices, collection schedules and contracts to deal with.

Commercial bin collection prices

There are different types of bin sizes, and the size of the bin collected, along with the waste inside, will dictate the collection price. The most popular commercial bin sizes (in litres) are as follows:

1100
660
360
240To view, all available bins visit our bins page please note business waste provides free wheelie bins for all business customers or learn more about balers and compactors

Can I get a rebate on my recycling?

Certain waste types have scrap and recycling value and these can sometimes generate a small profit. Glass, cardboard, metals, alloys and recyclable computer components are the most common form of rebate-generating waste, but please note your waste volumes must be significant in the multiple tons for a rebate.

How much are landfill charges?

The standard landfill tax rate as of 1 April 2020 is £94.25 per tonne. The government have not published any intended price increases for 2021 at the time of writing.

Tips on saving money on your waste collections

Waste audit – by determining the amount of waste and the types of waste generated by your organisation, you may be in a position to further understand how to reduce the amount of waste you send to landfill. A waste audit is a process of figuring out ways in which you can reduce, re-use and recycle.

Recycle – as part of its commitment to the environment, the government is encouraging businesses to recycle as many materials as they can. Recycling costs less than sending waste to landfill and is not subject to the landfill tax, which could help save your business some serious money.

Improve your buying practices – get in the habit of only buying items you need, and only buying items that can be recycled.Reuse – do you need to recycle the bottled water from the staff room when you could replace it with tap water from a filtered container? Try to foster a culture of sustainability within your organisation – think no more plastic bottles, ditching disposable coffee cups and reusing items where possible.

How do I arrange commercial waste collections?

Business Waste on 0800 211 83 90 or simply fill out a form and our experts will take care of everything for you.

This guide will explain everything you need to know about Hazardous Waste and your waste management obligations – To arrange delivery of containers and to arrange collections call 0800 211 83 90

What are The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005?

The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005, were brought into force to replace the Special Waste Regulations Act (1996). The regulations were introduced to protect the environment by finding a new way to control and track hazardous waste, ensuring that it is safely and securely disposed of.

There were various motivations behind the act coming into place, though the most prominent is the UK landfil crisis. According to experts, our dependency upon landfills for waste disposal means that the sites will be completely overflowing by 2023 – as a result, certain interventions must be put in place -and the Hazardous Waste Act are a clear and effective example of this.

The Regulations dictate:

    • Hazardous waste must be ‘recovered or disposed of without endangering human health, and without using processes or methods which could harm the environment’.
    • Waste producers (i.e. business owners) must classify their waste and store hazardous waste separately from their

commercial waste

    • .
    • Waste producers must ensure that a licensed carrier collects their waste. This means you must work with a registered company, with the appropriate environmental permits.
    Each time waste is collected, a consignment form must be filled out. Both the carrier and producer must keep a copy of this note.

How can I dispose of hazardous waste in the workplace?

Various industries produce hazardous waste on a daily basis; this includes construction companies and pharmacies. Thankfully, there are multiple steps you can take to dispose of hazardous workplace waste.

    1. 1. Ensure all members of staff are aware of the importance of proper waste disposal.
    1. 2. Classify and separate your waste.
    1. 3. Use the appropriate bins and containers to store waste.
    1. 4. Work with a licensed carrier to put together a waste collection schedule.
    5. Fill out a consignment/waste transfer note. Ensure that all documents are kept on file for at least three years.

If you need help putting together an effective waste disposal plan for your business, we’re on hand to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch online, or give us a call at 0800 211 83 90.

How should hazardous waste be stored?

Hazardous waste should be stored safely and securely. This can stop unauthorised personnel from gaining access to the waste products and helps to protect the environment by reducing the chances of any leaks or spillages. When storing your hazardous waste, you should:

    • Clearly label your waste. Keep an inventory of any waste that is stored on your property.
    • Set up a designated waste area on-site, where all waste disposal bins will be stored.
    • Keep hazardous and non-hazardous waste separate from each other.
    • Ensure all bags or bins are tightly sealed.
    • Arrange for regular waste collection to ensure that your bins are not overflowing with waste.
    Perform regular maintenance checks on your storage area, ensuring none of the bins/containers have become damaged.

Can hazardous waste be stored outside?

It may be that your company chooses to store its waste outside before collection. Thankfully, hazardous waste can be stored outside, so long as the area is kept secure. For example, the waste should be stored in the appropriate containers, inside a locked or gated area.

What bins and containers can be used for hazardous waste?

Various different containers can be used to store hazardous waste. This includes:

Yellow Hazardous Waste Bags. The bags are used for hazardous waste such as dressings and wipes, bandages and PPE.

Cytotoxic/Cytostatic Waste Bins. These bins are available in various sizes, from 2.5-50L. This includes products such as blister packs, medicinal vials and patches.

Wheelie bins. Hazardous waste wheelie bins are available in a range of sizes, from 120L-1100L. They are also available in different colours, to help you differentiate your waste.

Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC). Intermediate bulk containers are used to store up to 1000L of hazardous liquid waste, including chemical waste and sludge/slurries.

How can I set up a hazardous waste storage area?

If you are looking to set up a hazardous waste storage area on your site, you will need to ensure you have easy access to the appropriate bins and containers. All hazardous waste must be kept separately from your general waste, perhaps at a different location on site. As mentioned previously, you should clearly label each bin to minimise the cross-contamination of waste. Finally, you should make sure that the general public cannot gain access to the waste.

At BusinessWaste, we’re on hand to help you set up a waste storage area for your business. Whether we chat over the phone, or head over for a site visit – we’ll work closely with you to find the best waste management solutions for your company.

What methods are used for the safe disposal of hazardous waste?

When we collect your waste, we will ensure it is taken to the appropriate facility for disposal. Wherever possible, we avoid using landfills. There are various different (safe) methods of hazardous waste disposal. These include:

Incineration. Incineration is a process where waste is disposed of through burning. When certain hazardous wastes are incinerated, such as oils, they can be converted into energy sources. There are numerous benefits associated with incineration, newer incineration methods, such as ‘starved air incineration’ limit the production of gasses, while still breaking down products.

Recycling. Many recycling facilities are now able to take on hazardous waste; finding new uses for the products. This is much better for the environment and reduces the demands placed upon landfill sites.

Can hazardous waste be recycled?

As mentioned previously, certain types of hazardous waste can be recycled, though they must be first broken down/taken apart at a waste management facility. This includes items such as WEEE products, small electrical items and lead-acid batteries. If you are unsure whether your products can be recycled, you can send us any enquiries you have, and we’ll do the rest.

What are the four types of hazardous waste?

Hazardous waste is typically broken down into four categories.

Universal Wastes.

    • Batteries, or equipment containing mercury.

Mixed Wastes. Waste that is deemed radioactive, or contains hazardous waste components.

Characteristic Wastes. Corrosive, toxic, or reactive waste.

Listed wastes as determined by the EPA (The Environmental Protection Agency). Wastes from the F List (waste from non-specific sources), or K List (source-specific waste).

How is hazardous waste classified?

The following characteristics classify hazardous waste:

Ignitability.

This characteristic refers to waste that is hazardous because it could potentially cause a fire during storage, transport or disposal. This includes items such as:

Fluorescent Tubes & Sodium Lamps. Sodium is an alkali metal, and alkali metals are renowned for being highly reactive substances. As a result, fluorescent tubes and sodium lamps are classified as hazardous as they are potentially flammable.

Contaminated Spills and Rags. Contaminated spills or rags belong in this category due to the materials they are contaminated with. This includes cleaning products, oils or paint – which are all potentially flammable.

Paint in Original Containers. Certain paints, such as varnish and polyurethane,
contain a high volume of flammable compounds, such as xylene, toluene. However, water-based paints, such as acrylic or vinyl paint, are non-flammable substances.

Oil and Fuel Filters. Oil fuels and filters are considered hazardous waste due to the fact that they are potentially flammable when they reach a specific temperature.

Corrosivity.

This characteristic refers to waste that is hazardous due to how it rusts or decomposes. This could include:

Lead Acid Batteries. Lead-acid, similar to sulfuric acid, poses a significant threat to the environment – this is because it can contaminate water sources.

Reactivity.

This characteristic refers to waste that is hazardous due to how reactive it is. For example, it could be considered potentially explosive. This could include:

Aerosols. In order to work, the liquid within aerosols is pressurised with a propellant. This means that if pierced, damaged or overheated – they could explode.

Plasterboard. Though it may not initially appear hazardous, plasterboard poses a threat to the environment if disposed of in a general landfill site. This is because plasterboard, and similar products such as drywall, contain gypsum. When gypsum is grouped with biodegradable wastes, it can produce highly toxic gas.

Toxicity.

This characteristic refers to waste that is hazardous due to the harm it can cause if ingested or absorbed.

Antifreeze and Brake Fluids. If ingested, antifreeze and brake fluids can cause serious harm to human health. This is because it contains high amounts of Diethylene Glycol (DEG), a highly toxic substance.

Toner or Laser Cartridges. The vast majority of the products involved in making toner and laser cartridges can be recycled. However, they are classified as toxic, hazardous waste, because they contain potentially carcinogenic substances.

Inkjet Cartridges. Like toner cartridges, inkjet cartridges contain a variety of potentially dangerous, carcinogenic substances that can disrupt hormonal activity and cause a variety of illnesses.

Asbestos. Asbestos is considered a hazardous substance because it contains various toxic chemicals, including carcinogens, which are released if the asbestos is disturbed.

Other examples of hazardous waste include:

    • Pesticides
    • Solvents
    • Laboratory waste
    • Cleaning products
    • Medical waste
    WEEE products (Fridges, Freezers, Microwaves, Toasters)

Can you mix hazardous waste?

Under government regulations, hazardous waste must be separated before disposal. This is because different kinds of waste must go through different disposal channels once collected. As a result, you are unable to mix hazardous waste.

How can you reduce hazardous waste?

There are various ways in which you can reduce the amount of hazardous waste you produce on site. This includes:

    • Searching for alternative products that do not include hazardous materials or chemicals.
    • Only buying the exact amount of materials you need, reducing the amount of surplus waste you produce.
    • Safely reusing products whenever possible.
    Sending any waste products to recycling facilities where they can be safely disposed of.

If you have any more questions about hazardous waste or hazardous waste disposal, do not hesitate to get in touch!

We use plastic every day, in both our personal and professional lives. For example, a large majority of packaging is made from plastic – and it can be difficult to avoid using it altogether. However, as a Business Owner, you have a personal responsibility to ensure that you reduce the amount of plastic you use, and responsibly dispose of the materials wherever possible.

Who produces plastic waste?

Plastic waste is a byproduct of many businesses. As a result, it is produced in many industries. This includes:

Shops
Factories
Laboratories
Schools, colleges, and educational facilities.
Takeaways
Restaurants
Garages and auto repair shops
Offices
The construction industry

What are some examples of plastic waste?

There are many different types of plastic waste. They can be divided into seven categories, depending upon the type of plastic they are made from.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
Water bottles
Plastic jars
Frozen food packaging
Carpet fibre
Clothing
Rope

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Milk containers
Detergent & bleach containers
Motor oil containers

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Pipes
Tiles
Internal and external cladding

Low-Density Polyethylene(LDPE)
Shopping bags
Clingfilm
Squeezable bottles

Polypropylene (PP)
Bottle lids
Thicker plastic items

Polystyrene (P)
Polystyrene film
Polystyrene foam

Code 7
Baby’s bottles
CDs.

For a full guide on the different types of plastic click here.

What bins should be used for plastic waste

Various different bins and containers are used to store plastic waste before disposal. This includes:

Wheelie Bins (240L1100L)
Prepaid Waste Bags

However, if you are producing large amounts of plastic waste, you could benefit from using a waste baler or compactor. Compactors work by compressing large amounts of waste into smaller cubes, which can then be recycled. You can find out more about them here.

What is commercial plastic disposal?

Commercial plastic disposal refers to the safe storage and collection of any plastic waste produced in or by your business. For example, if your work with Business Waste, we will:

    • Conduct a site visit to discuss your best options.
    • Provide you with free bins to store your waste.
    • Collect your waste according to a pre-agreed schedule. (This could include daily, weekly or monthly collections).
    Ensure that all plastic waste is safely disposed of through environmentally friendly practices, such as recycling.

Commercial Plastic Disposal

How much plastic is produced and generated in the UK each year?

Plastic is one of the most widely used materials in the world – and its popularity only continues to grow. As a result of this increased demand, we produce a vast amount of plastic (and by extension, plastic waste) every year. For example, in the UK alone, we produce around 5 million tonnes of plastic waste in a single year.

391 million tonnes of plastic are produced globally each year – a statistic that is expected to double within the next decade, despite efforts from numerous environmental agencies.

How can you recycle your commercial plastic?

There are several steps you can take to recycle your commercial plastic waste.

    • Wherever possible, reuse products multiple times before disposing of them.
    • Put together a waste disposal plan.
    • Encourage employees to recycle wherever possible.
    • Ensure all plastic waste is put in the appropriate bins. For example, plastic should not be mixed with your general waste.
    Arrange for your waste to be collected by a licensed carrier, who will take the waste to the appropriate recycling facilities.

What are the laws and regulations of plastic waste disposal?

There are various laws and regulations placed on the disposal of plastic waste. This includes:

The Environmental Protection Act (1990)

    • . This legislation imposes a duty of care on business owners to safely and securely dispose of all waste, including plastics.

EU Landfill directive. The Landfill directive was introduced to reduce the amount of waste that is mistakenly sent to landfills each year, which could otherwise be recycled.

Producer Responsibility Legislations. This legislation focuses on packaging waste and ensures that businesses who manufacture, import, and sell those materials are responsible for how they are disposed of.

The above list is by no means exhaustive, and you must get to grips with the various government legislation relating to business waste. Failure to comply could mean that you face a hefty fine and even a prison sentence.

How does the process of plastic recycling work?

There are various different methods used to dispose of plastic.

Closed-loop recycling
Closed-loop recycling

    • is the process whereby recycled materials are repurposed to create new items. In this case, plastic recyclables such as bottles, containers, and packaging, will be cleaned to remove all impurities. Following this, they are shredded and melted down into pellets – which can then be made into new products.

This process is sometimes referred to as mechanical recycling, or ‘chop and wash’ recycling.

Thermal Decomposition.
Certain plastics can also be recycled through a depolymerisation process, to produce oils such as petroleum. This is a form of thermal decomposition, through which heat and pressure cause hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon polymers to decompose and form petroleum. The method is similar to how fossil fuels are naturally produced over time.

Heat Compression.
The process of using heat compression to recycle plastic is continuing to grow in popularity over time. Heat compression works by mixing plastic waste in large, rotating drums and applying large amounts of heat to the waste. Heat Compression is beneficial as nearly all types of plastics can be recycled in this way.

Chemical Recycling.
Certain types of plastics, such as PET, can be disposed of through chemical recycling. This process uses a variety of chemicals to reduce a polymer to its original form. This means that it can be used again to create new plastic materials.

Why does your business need to benefit from plastic waste recycling?

There are many reasons why your business needs to recycle plastic waste – and there are many benefits attached to this. For example, when you take the appropriate steps to safely and securely dispose of all waste (including plastics), you minimise the impact your business has upon the environment. This means that you are complying with all government regulations, whilst simultaneously playing an important role in securing our planet for future generations.

Furthermore, by operating with the environment in mind, you can increase your brand’s reputation – as customers tend to favour brands with strong environmental policies and practices.

How is plastic sorted?

Whether you have a separate waste container for your plastics or store them in dry mixed recycling bins, they will need to be sorted accordingly when they arrive at a recycling facility. In some cases, sorting is performed manually. Otherwise, the materials will be run through a machine that picks up on different polymers and can therefore separate (and sort) them much quicker.

What is the environmental impact of plastic waste?

You mustn’t underestimate the negative impact that plastic waste can have upon the environment if it is not handled correctly and recycled. This is because most plastics can take thousands of years to decompose, and can cause a great deal of harm during this time. Here are some startling facts.

Around 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year. This causes significant damage to marine life. For example, 100% of baby sea turtles have some form of plastic in their stomachs.

In the UK alone, we throw away 15 million single-use plastic bottles a day, even though they can be easily recycled. When sent to a landfill, the average plastic bottle will take around 450 years to decompose.

Plastic production and incineration produce harmful greenhouse gasses. In 2019 alone, plastic was responsible for the emission of 850 million tonnes of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) into the atmosphere. These figures are set to rise in coming years.

Chlorinated plastics, such as those made from PVC, can release dangerous chemicals during the decomposition process. If this soaks into the surrounding soil, it could lead to water pollution.

When can’t plastic be recycled?

Most plastics can be recycled, but certain products, such as polystyrene and plastic bags, are nearly impossible to recycle. However, this does not mean that the products cannot be repurposed. For example, plastic bags can be used numerous times instead of throwing them straight in the bin. This minimises their environmental impact as they aren’t taking up space in landfills.

How can you manage your plastic disposal and waste collections?

As mentioned previously, the most effective way of managing your plastic waste disposal and collection is by working closely with a waste management company. At Business Waste, we know that you don’t want to spend valuable time sorting through your waste, or dropping it off at different recycling facilities – and that’s where we come in. We will arrange for the safe and secure collection of your waste and take all the necessary steps to ensure that its environmental impact is kept to the minimum.

If you have any further questions or would like to arrange a site visit, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We have a team of experts on hand to answer any questions you might have, just give us a call at 0800 211 83 90

.

What are sharps bins?

As a business owner, you are responsible for ensuring that all waste produced in your facility is safely and securely disposed of. However, this duty is particularly important when dealing with potentially hazardous materials, such as sharps. By definition, ‘sharps’ refers to any materials that could puncture or cut the skin. This could, for example, include needles used in medical practices or tattoo parlours. Sharps bins are also used to dispose of clinical waste materials associated with sharps that may not necessarily be sharp themselves – this could include PPE.

Sharp bins

Sharps bins, therefore, are specially designed to safely store sharps prior to their collection and disposal – ensuring the safety of anybody who may come into contact with them. As they are so important, there are a range of different sharps bins on offer to meet the varied needs of customers.

At BusinessWaste, we provide our customers with easy access to a range of free bins, including sharps containers,to ensure that your waste is always safely and securely disposed of.

What are sharps bins used for?

As mentioned previously, sharps bins are used to dispose of any material that could puncture the skin. This could include:

  • Hypodermic needles
  • Syringes
  • Scalpels
  • Insulin pens
  • Lancets
  • Tattoo needles
  • Piercing needles/guns
  • Broken or contaminated glass
  • Broken or contaminated plastic
  • Scissors
  • Sharp knives
  • Scalpels
  • Pins
  • Staples
  • Razor blades
  • Metal wiring

Who uses sharps bins and why?

A variety of businesses and organisations use sharps bins. This could include:

How do sharps bins work?

Sharps bins function similarly to the containers you would use to dispose of general waste. They are:

  • Sealable/lockable – to prevent unauthorised access
  • Made of a durable material that cannot be pierced or easily damaged
  • Colour coded
  • Available in a range of sizes, styles and shapes

What are the different kinds of sharps bins?

Sharps bins come in a variety of sizes, depending upon the amount of waste you dispose of on a daily basis. For example, medical facilities will likely produce high volumes of sharps waste, meaning that their sharps bins tend to be larger to cope with the increased demand. Sharps bins sizes are often measured in Litres and available in different colours and shapes.

Why are there different coloured bins?

Sharps bins are organised by colour to avoid cross-contamination of products and ensure that all waste is safely and securely disposed of.

Sharp bin colours

What colour sharps bins do I need?

When putting together your waste disposal plan, it can be hard to determine which sharps bin colouring is best for your business. The most common sharps bin colours are:

Orange-lidded sharps bins. Orange-lidded sharps bins are used to dispose of non-pharmaceutical sharp waste, such as tattoo or piercing needles, knives, stables, and other stationery products.

Orange lid sharps bin

Yellow-lidded sharps bins. Yellow-lidded sharps bins, sometimes referred to as medical sharps bins, are typically used to dispose of sharps that could have been contaminated with medical waste, such as syringes.

Yellow lid sharps bin

Blue-lidded sharps bins. Blue-lidded sharps bins are not actually used for waste that is considered ‘sharp’, but instead other forms of pharmaceutical/ medical waste such as expired pharmaceuticals and PPE.

Red-lidded sharps bins. Red-lidded sharps bins are used to store anatomical waste, such as blood bags.

Purple-lidded sharps bins. Purple-lidded sharps bins are used to store cytotoxic and cytostatic waste, such as disposable garments, medicinal vials, blister packs and patches.

Purple lid sharps bin

Where should I store sharps bins on my property?

As sharps bins present a significant health and safety risk to your employees and the general public, you must store them correctly before collection. For example, they should be stored at eye level, so that they cannot be knocked over. Due to this, many companies offer wall-mounted sharps bins. Ensure that you always lock or seal the container after use.

What are the laws regarding sharps bins?

There are various rules and regulations regarding waste disposal in the UK that all business owners must comply with. Examples of sharps bins regulations include:

  • Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 and 2015. These regulations dictate that appropriate training should be provided to employees so that they know how to dispose of sharps. Furthermore, sharps must be clearly labelled and stored in secure containers.
  • Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005. These regulations dictate that any waste that could be considered hazardous to others or the environment must be stored securely before collection.

Sharps bin collection

How are sharps bins disposed of?

Various disposal methods are used to safely and securely deal with sharps waste after collection. This includes:

  • Disposal via autoclave. Autoclaves are a form of a pressure chamber, which uses steam and high temperatures to sterilise sharps and medical equipment. The waste can then be compacted and safely disposed of.
  • Disposal via incineration. At Business Waste, we have high-temperature incinerators, which are used to dispose of waste whenever appropriate. They operate at a temperature of around 1,100 degrees. This is perhaps the most common method utilised when disposing of sharps bins waste.

Sharps bin disposal

How do I dispose of needles?

If your business or organisation uses any form of needles, you need to ensure you dispose of them safely and securely. You can use this step-by-step process as a guide for needles and sharps:

  • Do not attempt to bend or break sharps before disposal.
  • Where appropriate, use a needle clipper to remove the sharp part of a syringe.
  • Put all sharps into the appropriate sharps container immediately after usage.
  • Do not attempt to remove any sharps from the bin yourself.
  • Do not overfill the bin.
  • Arrange for the bin to be collected within an appropriate time frame.

When should sharps bins be disposed of?

Sharps bins must be disposed of when the container is around ¾ full. This reduces the risk of injury or cross-contamination whenever the waste is collected and helps ensure that you comply with all of the appropriate waste collection regulations.

You should not keep sharp waste at your facility for longer than a month. This means, at the very least, you should arrange to work with a company that will provide you with monthly sharps bin collection services.

How can I get sharps bins, and how do I arrange for them to be collected?

At Business Waste, we’re committed to providing our customers with the highest quality service across the board – no matter what waste you may be dealing with. When working with us, you’ll never have to worry about how to dispose of sharps bins alone – as you’ll be working with a team of experts with years of industry experience who know exactly how to get the job done.

As a result, we can provide you with free access to a range of different sharps bins and containers for use at your facility. We’ll then work closely with you to put together a waste management plan covering sharps bins disposal and aligns with your needs. This means you can arrange for the daily, weekly or monthly collection of sharps bins or additional waste. Collection times will be carefully coordinated, ensuring that we will not interfere with the day-to-day running of your business. We can also provide you with sharps bins accessories, such as trays and stands to ensure that they are always stored securely.

Sharps bin cost

Get in touch today to find out more about our sharps bin UK services or for a free quote. We’re always on hand to answer any questions you might have – and look forward to working together to secure a greener future.

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.

close up of Christmas tree lights and bauble on a tree.

Can you recycle 
Christmas lights?

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 
Christmas lights

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.

glittering Christmas tree lights and baubles.

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.
close up of Christmas light string on the floor.

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.

Learn more in our Christmas waste guides

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 with Christmas tree presents and Santa's sleigh design.

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.

numbered small house boxes in advent calendar.

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.
chocolate advent calendar.

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.

Learn more in our Christmas waste guides

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.

Christmas cards on wooden table.

Christmas card 
waste facts

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.
Discover more Christmas waste facts

Can you recycle 
Christmas cards?

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:

  • Plastic
  • Glitter
  • Batteries
  • Electronics
  • Ribbons
Learn more about recycling greetings cards 
Christmas cards overlapping.

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:

  • Batteries – recycle with your WEEE waste or take to a battery recycling point.
  • Plastic – any solid bits of plastic can be removed and sent for plastic recycling.
  • Glitter and ribbons – unfortunately, these aren’t recyclable, so should be disposed of with your general waste.

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.

Explore the advantages of recycling
Christmas card in Christmas tree.

Christmas card 
recycling ideas

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.

Learn more in our Christmas waste guides

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.

Christmas tree in centre of shopping mall.

Reduce your commercial 
Christmas waste

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.

What to do with overflowing bins
four wheel bin overflowing in front of white wall.

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.
Arrange waste collections online

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 
Christmas tree

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!

Christmas tree in hair salon with man having haircut.

Plan a low waste 
Christmas party

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.

How to plan a low waste Christmas party

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.

Find out how we can help and how much you could save on your Christmas commercial waste collections with a free no obligation quote today. Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online for a free quote tailored to your waste needs at any time of the year.

Read our Christmas waste guides

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 in the 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.

christmas present in hands with candles in background.

Eco-friendly clothing

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.

Environmentally friendly 
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.

Homemade sustainable 
Christmas gifts

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.
santa and snowman gingerbread faces.

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.

Learn more in our Christmas waste guides

Sustainable Christmas
presents FAQs

  • 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.

    Find out why landfill is bad

  • 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
Kevin Sinfield wearing ultra 7in7 running top.

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.

rob burrow kevin sinfield in running gear.

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.

Learn more about setting up your own 7in7 challenge.

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.

old halloween pumpkin starting to rot on grass.

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.
Discover more Halloween waste facts

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.
bowl of pumpkin soup with slice of brown bread.

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.
dog sat in pumpkin patch.

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?

Learn how to have a low waste Halloween

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.

Explore our Halloween waste hub
plastic halloween decorations gravestone and pumpkin.

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.

Learn about plastic recycling

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.
halloween lights and ghost decorations inside home.

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.

Halloween inflatables

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.
Find out how to have a low waste Halloween

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.

Visit our Halloween waste hub
food shop window decorated for halloween.

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.

champagne on ice with pumpkin.

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.

halloween gravestone decorations for sale in shop.

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.

Learn how to have a low waste Halloween

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.

Explore all our Halloween waste guides
two plastic skeletons in Halloween house.

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.
Ideas to reduce Halloween costume waste

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.

halloween sweets in pumpkin shaped dish.

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.

Learn how to have a low waste Halloween

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.

Visit our Halloween waste hub
zombies walking down street.

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.
dog dressed in witch costume with cauldron.

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.

Explore our Halloween waste guides
dog in ghost costume next to pumpkin.

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.

Things to do with pumpkins after Halloween
pumpkin and ghost light on shelf.

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.

female tennis player serving at wimbledon centre court.

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.

empty courts at wimbledon.

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.
Explore more packaging waste facts
novak djokovic playing tennis at wimbledon.

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 waste removal in Wimbledon to Whitby. Whatever type of waste you need removing and recycling, call us on 01904 231653 or complete our free quote form below to get started.

Learn more about our waste management services

Explosion in UK rat population is putting refuse workers at risk

Do you hate going to work on a Monday? Spare a thought for refuse collectors who dread Monday mornings as their rounds bring them in direct contact with Britain’s surging rat population.

That’s because they’re coming up against overfilled commercial and domestic bins that rats have had a chance to ransack for food, says a national waste and recycling company.

And with the British rat population increasing by 25% over the Covid pandemic, there’s some truth in the old urban myth that you’re never more than six feet away from a rat, says waste collection company BusinessWaste.co.uk

“Our operators come up against rats on a daily basis,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “but Mondays are especially bad and our teams are genuinely worried about getting bitten”.

What’s the problem?

Binmen (and women) have struggled with vermin since time immemorial, but the Covid pandemic and milder winters have allowed an explosion in the rat population.

Estimates put the number of rats in the UK at around 150 million, and they’re attracted to wherever humans leave them a steady supply of food. And that means bins.

And, according to refuse collectors, the worst day of the week is always a Monday, because the hungry rodents have had the chance to settle down relatively undisturbed over the weekend in overfilled bins.

“When we go to empty a bin on a Monday, there’s a stream of rats running to safety,” Mark Taylor 44 refuse collector from Addingham told us.

“It’s really bad if it’s a food store or a restaurant, and they haven’t secured the lid. We’re clubbing the bins with a big stick, then giving them a couple of minutes to run away. It’s terrifying.”

We’ve seen videos of rats fleeing commercial bins as if it’s a sinking ship, and it’s not a pleasant experience for anybody involved.

There’s also the chance of a bin man getting bitten.

“Once disturbed, the vermin are in a state of panic and run in all directions,” says Waste collection company Divert.co.uk’s Operations Director Adam Bailey, “Our teams now go into action with trousers tucked into boots and sleeve cuffs done up tight. But that’s still no guarantee.”

Another veteran operator tells BusinessWaste.co.uk that the problem is worse than ever. “We’re seeing more rats and other vermin than ever before, hundreds of them. And they’re bolder, too.”

Ratty Monday to Fear-filled Furry Fridays – there’s no escape for Britain’s bin men.

Is there a solution?

While it may be difficult to put an end to Ratty Mondays and Terrifying Tuesdays (if Ratty Monday is a Bank Holiday*), Business Waste’s Mark Hall says that there are plenty of things that people can do to deter vermin.

“The number one thing owners can do is secure the lids on their bins,” he says, “And the number two thing is not to overfill them”.

Bin operators approach open and overflowing bins with a sense of dread, knowing that it’s inevitable that there’ll be a fury explosion of angry and frightened rats the moment they move the bin.

For most domestic bins, it’s not really a problem. But for commercial bin owners, the sheer volume of food waste means that bin management is essential to deter vermin.

“That means people who run restaurants, food shops, pubs – anywhere that produces tasty, tasty food waste – needs to lock down their bins every time they use them,” says Hall.

It’s a basic safety measure for which there should be no exceptions, and something local authorities should clamp down on with local byelaws, he says.

“They say that if you’re in a big city, you’re never more than six feet away from a rat,” Says Mark Hall of BusinessWaste.co.uk “While that’s been an urban myth for years, it’s coming more and more of a reality, and it’s a problem of our own making.”

*Other days of the week are available, but they’re ratty too.

Facts About Christmas Waste

We all love Xmas day, everyone but the environment. Below we have probably the world’s largest collection of shocking and disgusting Xmas waste facts and figures, how many of them do you contribute to them?

For all things relating to Christmas waste including statistics, visit our Christmas waste hub.

Learn about commercial waste collection and waste disposal.

sad Christmas waste facts.

Christmas food waste facts

  • The waste generated at Christmas goes up by 30% compared to the waste created during the rest of the year.
  • Over one in seven British consumers buy more food than they need.
  • The biggest culprit is the food we consume. Approximately 66% of people admit to buying too much Christmas food that ends up in the bin.
  • This binned food usually amounts to 42 million dishes of Christmas food.
  • We purchase 10 million turkeys in the UK for xmas day.
  • Over 19,000 tonnes of turkey is cooked over the holiday season.
  • For frozen turkey, we consume approximately 12,472 tonnes of it, and for fresh turkey, we consume 6,711 tonnes of it.
  • We throw away 263,000 turkeys.
  • We throw away 7.5 million mince pies.
  • We also bin 740,000 portions of Christmas pudding.
  • This year we are expected to consume 25 million Christmas puddings all wrapped in plastic or cardboard.
  • 17.2 million sprouts also end up in landfills.
  • Christmas in the UK results in the sad disposal of two million kilograms of cheese.
  • It is estimated that during the Christmas season, Brits cook 80 percent more food than at other times of the year.
  • 230 000 tonnes of this food ends up in the bin during the festive season.
  • Pigs in blankets are also sadly wasted, with a whopping 7.1 million going to the bin.
  • Gravy waste amounts to 9.8 million cups, enough to fill up an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
  • Brits love their parsnips for Christmas so much that they’re produced in excess resulting in about 10.9 million of them going to waste.
  • 11.3 million potatoes end up wasted
  • 9 Million carrots end up wasted
  • Approximately 40% of groceries in the UK are sold on sale during the Christmas season, which encourages overspending and wasteful habits.
  • Nearly 45 percent of households said they throw away excess fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Brits are not above giving away food in the Christmas spirit, but, only 60% of the food that would otherwise be thrown away ends up in the hands of the less fortunate.
  • With just one caddy of Christmas food waste, enough electricity can be generated to power a television for two hours or a refrigerator for eight hours.
  • Beer consumption over the holidays would fill 57 Olympic-sized pools. This equates to a little over 250,000,000 pints of beer.
  • Every Christmas holiday season, 500 million cans of soda are sold.
How to reduce food waste at Christmas

Christmas packaging waste facts

  • The amount of Christmas plastic packaging that was placed in the general waste bin instead of the recycling bin in 2018 was estimated at 114,000 tonnes.
  • 3,000 tonnes of turkey packaging are sent to waste.
  • For the preparation and storage of turkey and other Christmas holiday meals, UK customers will use almost 4,500 tonnes of tin foil.
  • 300 million plastic cups and straws will be used.
  • Just during the festive season alone, approximately 125,000 tonnes of food-wrapping plastic is discarded
  • Plastic waste generated by the UK each Christmas equals the weight of 3.3 million Emperor Penguins.
  • The packaging for toys and gifts is discarded in approximately 100 million black bags every year.
  • The one million mince pies consumed by Britons over Christmas creates one tonne of aluminium waste material.
  • Christmas time generates 125,000 tonnes of plastic, with goods ranging from advent calendar trays and candy wrappers to enormous gift boxes.
  • 2,003 Britons were polled about how environmentally conscious they are, and 48 percent said they plan to reuse their gift bags. Sixteen percent of them intend to use more paper-based wrapping paper that is recyclable.
Learn about packaging waste disposal

Christmas wrapping paper waste facts

  • During the Christmas season, the amount of wrapping paper thrown away if laid need to end would equal 384,400 kilometres or 238,855 miles
  • This wrapping paper is followed by its companion, a sticky tape, with over million rolls used on Christmas eve.
Learn about paper recycling

Christmas tree waste facts

  • 160,000 tonnes of trees are dumped each January.
  • 14% of respondents said they would discard their artificial Christmas trees rather than reuse them the following year.
  • Rotting Christmas trees give off 100,000 tons of toxic gases. This is because the trees decompose and produce methane gas, which is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
  • In the Christmas spirit, UK citizens cut down 8 million trees for Christmas trees each year, contributing largely to deforestation.
What to do with an old Christmas tree

Costs associated with Christmas waste

  • Every year, the UK citizens spend £700 million on unwanted gifts!
  • Of all the purchases made for Christmas in the UK, only 1% will remain in use six months after the festivities have ended.
  • Each year, the average household spends £185 on Christmas decorations.
  • During the Christmas holiday season, Royal Mail sends out over 150 million cards across the UK all of which end up in the bin.
  • Every year, the UK spends £26 million to dispose of holiday waste that is transported to landfills.
  • 12500 tonnes of Christmas decorations are discarded in landfills, totalling £1.2m. This includes 68,488 miles of Christmas lights.
  • Each year after the festive season, 141,525 tonnes of food packaging are discarded at landfills, costing £13.3 million.
  • Every year, 30,000 tons of Christmas cards are thrown away, which is equivalent to £2.8 million worth of landfill costs.
  • The average UK household spends an extra £100 on food, of which at least £16 goes straight to the garbage. Based on this figure, potential Christmas food waste in the UK would amount to £444 million.
  • One in five British adults (49%) expect to receive an advent calendar this year, with Londoners spending an average of £13.60 on them in 2019. All of these advent calendars end up in the bin at the end of the holiday season.
  • Each household in the UK spent more than £400 on Christmas decorations, food, and drink in 2019.

The carbon footprint associated with Christmas waste

  • It is estimated that turkey cooking generates 14,056 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide in the UK
  • Cooking the UKs Xmas sprouts alone would uses enough energy to power a house for three years.
  • Our trips to family and friends during the Christmas holidays results in a total of 1 billion miles driven.
  • The carbon impact of Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day account for 5.5 percent of the UK’s total annual carbon footprint.
  • The Christmas feasts have the same carbon footprint as a single car travelling around the world 6,000 times.
  • The annual Coca-Cola tour truck is a famous Christmas tradition with Brits driving over 3000 miles just for pictures. The environmental toll of this outweighs the fun. Can you call standing in a carpark fun?

Christmas glass waste facts

  • During the months of December and January, 13,350 tonnes of glass are discarded, including wine and other bottled beverages drunk over the holidays.
  • Every Christmas, UK households consume and discard 205 million glasses of champagne.
Glass bottle and jar recycling

General Waste Associated With Christmas

  • According to a study conducted by Business Waste on 1100 UK households, 99 percent of individuals put Christmas cracker gifts in the bin at the end of the day.
  • 81 percent of the 1100 households polled admitted to using a plastic tablecloth that they threw away at the end of the holiday season.
  • Despite this, a recent study indicates that one-fifth of Brits will be more waste-conscious than ever this coming Christmas.
  • On Christmas Day, about 40 million Christmas crackers are anticipated to be thrown away.
  • The bulk of the plastic produced during the holiday season is single-use products.
  • The majority of Christmas jumpers are made of plastic, and 50% of the microfibres leak in the first wash!
  • Paper packaging makes up only 1% of all packaging for household toys.
  • Only one out of every four Christmas cards is recycled.
  • By March of next year, 41% of toys bought as gifts will be broken and destined for the landfill.

Learn more about Christmas waste

Home Composting involves gathering together various types of organic waste such as leaves, grass clippings and vegetable peeling, into a pile so that it will break down into a rich brownish-black product called compost. This section of our website is designed to give you the basic understanding of how to give it a go …In this post we will cover the following

  • Why Compost?
  • Where can I get a compost bin?
  • What materials can I compost?
  • Composting Questions and Answers
  • Wormeries

WHY COMPOST?

To help the environment:

Composting your organic waste at home is a great way to help reduce the amount we are throwing in landfill sites every year.

Using homemade compost will help to protect natural rare peat bogs that are being destroyed, by reducing the need for natural peat based compost products.

To Improve Your Garden:

By digging compost into the soil it improves soil texture and nutritional quality.
Through using compost as mulch around plants to help retain moisture.
The organic matter in garden compost helps to break up heavy clay soils, making them lighter and much easier to work.

To Save Money:

Buying less peat and fertilisers.
By helping the County Councils cut disposal costs for household waste.

Compost bins are also available from outlets such as garden centres, DIY stores and online. They can be made of various materials and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes so you are sure to find one that suits your garden.

how to make compost

WHAT MATERIALS CAN I COMPOST?

    • Grass cuttings
    • Weeds
    • Leaves
    • Hedge clippings
    • Uncooked food (tea bags, vegetable peelings, apple cores, banana skins, egg shells, etc)
    • Shredded paper and card
    • Cooked foods
    • Cat and dog litter / poo
    • Diseased plants
    • Meat and fish
    • Persistent weeds

Compostable plastics

COMPOSTING QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q: Where should I put my compost bin / heap?

A: Firstly ensure your composter, whether it is homemade or bought, is in a good spot in the garden. The best place for a composter is on soil or grass, to allow drainage and to let the worms get in. Also you should put the composter in a nice warm place in the garden to maintain the best temperature for the process.

Q: Can I put just one material in my compost bin or does it need a mixture?

A: To make good compost add a variety of compostable materials and create loose layers. Avoid heavy layers of grass cuttings or leaves.

Q: Should my compost bin be dry or wet?

A: Keep your materials damp but not wet. Add small quantities of water, or moist grass clippings or leafy materials if the compost is drying out. Or add drier material such as shredded newspaper if the mixture is too wet.

Q: My composter gives off a nasty smell, why and what can I do about it?

A: This is because your compost is too wet and is breaking down anaerobically, meaning without air. To help reduce the wetness try leaving the lid off in dry weather, removing some grass clippings or adding some shredded paper. Turn regularly with a garden fork to mix dry and wet materials together to improve air circulation.

Q: How long does it take to make compost?

A: Composting can take weeks or months, depending on how much air and moisture the material receives. By turning the compost regularly to help add air you should make compost in 3-6 months. In winter it will take longer because cold weather slows the process down.

Q: What can I add to speed up the process?

A: Compost can take a while to make. A slow turn over may be because the material is not reaching high enough temperatures. Try moving the composter into sunlight and keep the lid on. It could also be that its too dry so try to keep the pile moist. Try adding an activator; ready made activators can be bought from most Gardening Centres. Young nettles help to speed the process up too.

Q: Why does compost turn wet and slimy?

A: Usually because you have put in too much soft material, grass clippings and vegetable peelings etc. Make sure you get a good mixture of materials, try adding chopped up dry twigs and wood chips and some shredded newspaper you will give the compost a better texture. Try turning the mixture with a garden fork more often.

Q: Can I compost my hedge clippings?

A: You can compost green garden waste. This includes fallen leaves and prunings from hedges. Try to ensure that you get a good mixture of materials in your compost pile as well as the hedge clippings. Any woody stems and branches will take longer to decompose and you may want to take those to your local Community Recycling Centre and add them to the green garden waste collections for larger scale composting.

Q: Will having a compost heap attract mice and rats?

A: Compost heaps may highlight the fact that vermin are in your local area. You need to remove any unsuitable material and remember what can and can’t be composted. Try placing chicken wire round the base of the compost heap.

WORMERIES

Not got the space for a compost bin? Then try a Wormery!!

Having a wormery is an easy & efficient way of converting ordinary organic kitchen waste into top quality compost and concentrated liquid feed therefore reducing the need for chemical fertilisers. Naturally worms ‘recycle’ the organic material, therefore reducing the waste dumped in landfill sites.

GETTING A WORMERY

Contact your Local Council to find out if they sell wormeries at a discounted price. Alternatively try your local garden centres or please click here to go to our links page.

Wormeries are easy to maintain and don’t cause nasty smells if used properly. Have a look at our top tips:

TOP TIPS:

When you put new worms in a wormery, they like to explore their new home. If you don’t ensure the lid is firmly closed, they might escape! We suggest you keep the wormery outside in a sheltered shady place.
Add a touch of water now and then if your worm bin is getting too dry.
After about six months you’ll probably have too many worms for your bin. Empty half of the mix onto the garden, or split it into two and make a second worm bin.

YES! What to feed your worms

Fruit and vegetable peelings
Tea bags
Small amounts of newspaper and cardboard
Leaves from houseplants

NO! Don’t feed these to your worms

Garden waste such as cuttings, grass etc these materials are better on a compost heap
Too much strong food such as onion, chilli, garlic and citrus peel
Dairy products
Meat
Fish
Fat / oil
Animal droppings

Food waste can occur at any stage in the production or consumption of food. Globally, food waste is a real issue, and more and more businesses and individuals are beginning to pay attention to how much waste they create. In the UK, about 32% of purchased food ends up as food waste amounting to 6.7 tonnes each year.

food waste

What are the categories of food waste?

    1. Uneaten food and food preparations wastes

    2. Uncooked and expired food

    3. Flowers, rotten fruits and vegetables

    4. Teabags, eggshells and coffee grounds

Different sectors in the retail and consumption stages of the food chain contribute to immense food wastage.

Who creates the most food waste?

Restaurants, pubs, takeaways, cafes

Unsurprisingly, the highest contributor to food waste in the country.

Restaurants, cafes and other food services waste £3.2 billion worth of fresh meals every year. Naturally, businesses will not intend on wasting food on purpose but habits such as over-preparing food, improper storage of food and produce, over-buying ingredients and poor stock management all contribute to food waste. In addition to this, hospitality businesses also are responsible for throwing away leftovers and uneaten food they serve to their customers.

Butchers

Food waste is created in the meat industry in a variety of ways, including waste from slaughterhouses, butcheries and meat processors. According to research, the UK throws away 34,000 tonnes of beef every year.

Food wastes in butcheries emanate from bones, blood, internal organs and unused fat, expired or unsold stock. Improper disposal of meat-based food waste is a threat to animal and human health. In the UK, butcheries should adhere to Environment Protection Act and Animal by-Products Regulations 2013.

Bakeries

Bakeries are another huge contributor to food waste in the country. In the UK, consumers typically only want to buy bread that has been baked that day otherwise they fear it will be stale. For this reason, many bakeries throw away a high volume of bread and baked goods due to overproduction or lack of demand. Food waste in this sector includes bread, dough, icing, cakes, sugar, flour and other confectionery products.

Bread is among the top three most wasted foods in the UK. About 1.2bn edible slices of bread are thrown away each year.

Households

It is important to highlight, food waste is not just created by commercial businesses. Many domestic households do not realise how much food waste they create. Statistics show that families throw away about 22% of their weekly shopping contributing to 50% of food waste in the country. How is this food wasted? Lack of proper meal planning, impulse buying, poor storage and cooking too much are common culprits.

Proper food waste management

The best way of managing food waste is by reducing food waste in our homes and businesses. Households, for example, could create a meal plan at the start of each week to ensure they don’t overbuy or forget about fresh produce. Businesses could similarly put more effort into their stock management and food storage plans.

Even when you aim to reduce food waste as much as possible, however, there are instances when food waste is inevitable. If you have food waste you need to be collected, get in touch with our team. Our company strives to offer reliable, quality and affordable services to ensure your business meets the highest hygienic standards. We have all the equipment needed to cater for the food waste needs of the different sectors. Contact us today for efficient and tailor-made services.

Learn more
What is low carbon food?

Hair salons and beauty parlours have specialist waste disposal needs to get rid of everything from old hair dye to broken hairdryers. As a registered waste carrier, we understand these needs and can ensure you meet your legal obligations by organising storage and waste collection solutions for your hair salon.

As a salon owner or manager, it’s your duty to ensure the correct hair salon waste disposal procedures are in place. For example, human hair is non-biodegradable and can cause environmental issues if not disposed of correctly. Your salon is legally responsible to ensure human hair waste is managed, stored, and disposed of correctly.

Taking human hair to a local tip or disposing of it at home is illegal, as it needs to be transported and disposed of by licensed waste carriers. Call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online for a free quote for hair salon waste disposal – or learn more about the types and methods below.

woman having hair cut and dried.

What types of waste 
do hair salons produce?

Hair salons create a wide variety of waste in addition to human hair. These include:

At Business Waste, we understand the unique types of waste hair salons produce. That’s why we can provide unique and convenient waste solutions whatever types of salon waste you create.

Explore salon waste statistics

Hair salon waste 
disposal methods

UK legislation provides a framework for the disposal of waste and governs how different waste types must be stored and disposed of. Hair salon waste can be separated into different categories to prevent contamination. Each category has different rules around its storage and disposal.

Recycling in hair salons

Businesses are legally required to separate recyclable rubbish from general waste. Much of the rubbish your hair salon produces can be recycled. This includes rinsed out shampoo and conditioner bottles, carboard packaging, and the magazines your clients have got bored of flicking through. Empty aerosol cans can be placed with metal recycling and if you offer disposable beverage options then many plastic cups are recyclable too.

For highlights and other hair services, your salon may use tinfoil. Recycling hair salon foils is possible if the foil can be scrunched and hold its shape. If the foil springs back when scrunched, it’s metallised plastic film and recycling these hair salon foils isn’t possible, so you must dispose of it with general waste.

Recycling hair dryers is also important. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013 provide rules around the recycling of electronic products. We can help ensure that your broken straighteners, hairdryers, and other types of salon equipment are disposed of correctly. Use a WEEE bin to store any electronic items for recycling.

Did you know, you’re legally obligated to take back old electronic products when customers are purchasing a new one? If your salon sells electrical hair styling tools, you need to make this service known to your clients.

Hazardous waste in hair salons

Under the Hazardous Waste (Regulations England and Wales) 2005, there are rules governing how hazardous waste is defined and how it must be stored and disposed of. There are strict penalties for breaches. Waste is considered ‘hazardous’ when it could harm human health or the environment and can only be disposed of at authorised sites.

All sharps from your business, such as acupuncture needles, must be disposed of in secure, puncture-proof yellow hazardous waste bins. There are different categories of hazardous waste bins that you may require, depending on the treatments you offer. We can assist and advise to ensure you have the right sharps bins in place.

Liquid hair dye and other chemicals also class as hazardous waste due to the damage they can cause to the environment. We offer various solutions to dispose of such chemical waste.

Clinical waste also needs separating from normal waste. This includes things like pads, cotton buds and wax strips, which are disposed of separately in specific coloured bags. We can also provide sanitary bins and collection for your guest and employee bathrooms.

General waste in hair salons

This can be anything that doesn’t fall into any of the other categories such leftover lunches, non-recyclable packaging, till receipts, and hair clippings. General waste created in hair salons can be collected in black bin bags and put in your commercial general waste bins for a reputable waste disposal company to collect.

Learn about beauty salon waste disposal
woman blow drying hair in salon.

Why do hair salons need to be more sustainable? 
And how they can do it?

Hair salons should aim to be more sustainable to reduce their environmental impact and to make significant financial savings. The more hair salon recycling you do, the less waste you send to landfill and less landfill tax you have to pay. These are some of the top ways salons can be more sustainable:

Hair salon bins and collection

To ensure that your hair salon bins are compliant with your obligations under waste disposal regulations, we can provide all the necessary bins for free. This helps ensure your hair salon waste is correctly separated and disposed of. You simply pay for their collection and our licensed waste carriers will remove the bins at an agreed time.

Our 7-day-a-week hair salon waste collections are flexible to suit the needs of your business and can be daily, weekly, or fortnightly. For some clinical waste and sharps bins, this service can be on an ad-hoc basis. Explore the bins we can provide to improve your hair salon recycling.

Order free bins

Hair salon sustainability

It’s important for hair salons to become more sustainable and we work with our customers to help them achieve this. Here are our top tips to ensure that your business is as eco-friendly as possible:

  • Wash out your shampoo and conditioner bottles so they can be recycled.
  • Move from disposable cups and glasses to reusable options.
  • Look at using alternatives to aluminium hair foils.
  • Buy products with biodegradable packaging.
  • Place recycling bins in visible areas to encourage people to use them more.
  • Talk to your clients about recycling hairdryers and straighteners if they’re replacing old or broken ones.

Read our reviews

We use Business Waste for our hair salon. Initially starting out with just a General Waste bin to begin with but after their attentive and friendly service we’ve upgraded to a recycling bin too. I’m very impressed with the team at Business Waste and their level of care. Nothing is too much for them especially since we needed lockable bins. Even going so far as to check whether bins have been delivered/pickups have been completed. I would definitely recommend them to any businesses looking for a larger bin!
Bryony Akerman

Hair salon FAQs

  • CONTROLLED WASTE How much waste do hair salons in the UK produce?

    The hairdressing industry creates enough waste to fill 50 football stadiums every year. Sadly, the vast majority of this currently ends up in landfill sites even though lots of it can be reused or recycled. Around 99% of hair cuttings end up in landfill from hair salons, while beauty salons also send more than 1.3 million tools to landfill every month.

  • CONTROLLED WASTE How many hair salons and beauty businesses are there?

    There are approximately more than 46,000 hair and beauty businesses in the UK. Most of these businesses are small, with around 75% employing fewer than five people – while 94% employ less than ten people.

  • CONTROLLED WASTE How many people work in hair and beauty salons?

    Around 250,000 people are employed in the hair and beauty industry. Around 83% of hairdressers and barbers, and 94% working in beauty, are female.

  • CONTROLLED WASTE What can be recycled in a hairdressing salon?

    Hair salon waste varies greatly – from the products you use to provide treatments, to food wrappers customers throw away in bins on your premises. Thankfully, lots of salon waste is recyclable. Hair salon waste disposal methods depend on the type of rubbish created, but in many cases, you can recycle items. In a hairdressing salon you can recycle:

    • Aluminium foils
    • Colour tubes
    • Plastic shampoo, conditioner, and colouring bottles
    • Newspapers and magazine
    • Drinks bottles, cans, and other dry mixed recycling

Some simple tweaks to your approach to shopping, cooking, and food waste disposal can potentially cut your food-related carbon footprint by almost two-thirds and it can be a healthy, fun, and inexpensive way to make a very real difference to our precious environment and to promoting ethical products.

which foods go rotten the quickest

What is low carbon food?

Low carbon food is any product that limits its environmental impact when it comes to production and processing, preparation, transportation, packaging and waste. If a product is grown, produced and shopped for locally, it lowers carbon usage in terms of transport fuels. It is also more likely to be seasonal, meaning that it has not taken a toll upon the earth in terms of processing and production.

What is a carbon footprint?

Everyone on earth has a carbon footprint, meaning that we all contribute to carbon emissions simply by existing. The average UK resident uses 12.7 tonnes of Co2e per year. The good news is that low carbon eating can make a real difference to this figure.

Why you should care about your food’s carbon impact?

If caring about what you put in your body is to be considered a prudent lifestyle choice then why not care about the origin of your food, the sustainability of a low carbon food diet and the impact we can all have upon our environment? Products that contain little or no packaging reduce the use of plastics and eating less meat, dairy and processed foods is not only good for your health but also uses less carbon dioxide in production and maintenance. Sensible portion sizes, recycling, and composting can end the process positively by reducing waste.

What is a low carbon diet?

A low carbon diet is a dietary regime that takes into account the impact the food we choose has upon our health whilst considering the effect it has upon planet earth. Choosing to eat less meat, dairy and fewer processed foods is replaced by a diet of fresh, local and seasonal foods which are sustainably sourced and produced and which are disposed of responsibly.

What is the best low carbon food?

Freshly grown, local fruits and vegetables are some of the best low carbon foods available but it is not only Vegans who can reduce Co2 emissions and harmful Green House Gasses (GHGe).

– Locally reared meats such as chickens, their eggs and pork all have lower emissions than lamb or beef.
– Wild game such as pheasant or rabbit would be lower still. Growing in your own vegetables or foraging for free 0% emission foods can be fun and consider finding local producers of cheeses, bread, milk, preserves and even alcohol.
– Local fisheries and fishermen can also supply sustainably sourced, fresh fish with very low emissions and minimal packaging.

What is the cost of adapting a low carbon diet?

Buying locally produced foods can be expensive but clever shopping and savvy household management can reap rewards and keep your bills low.

– Consider where your food comes from and how it was produced and packaged because this will add money to your bill and your emissions. An internationally produced food will have literally thousands of air miles attached to it.
– Cook at the section where foods approaching their sell-by dates are kept in supermarkets. This prevents waste and saves you money.
– Proper storage at home, as well as creative cooking, can help foods to last longer and be used up.
– Always think about what you can grow yourself. This is not only cheaper but fun and good for your mental well-being.
– Having a target to reduce your emissions in every part of your life will ultimately save you money.

Should we ban ready meals and only cook with local ingredients at home?

Banning all processed foods is not practical but it stands to reason that learning to cook from scratch with healthy ingredients should be a target for everyone. Revolutions often start as small gestures so a few small changes can make a really big difference in the long run.

Low carbon facts and stats: How can food waste add to carbon emissions?

In the UK we waste an estimated 9.5 million tonnes of food a year which means we are not only wasting food and increasing emissions, we are also wasting approximately £250-£400 per household. Food waste can be as simple as putting too much food on your plate or can be not using up products with shorter shelf lives. Furthermore, not recycling and composting can have a real impact. 1kg of wasted food can contribute a whopping 7.6kg of carbon emissions to the atmosphere and this can easily be avoided by:

    – Making a shopping list and only buy what you need. Do not be swayed by 3 for 2 offers or discounts.
    – Observe portion control and don’t cook more than you need. If you do, consider leftovers as a meal or freeze for later. Be creative.
    – Use your Granny’s domestic advice and be in control of your cupboards and fridge. Poor household management makes waste! Store foods correctly to avoid spoilage.
    – Understand that a ‘sell by date’ is not the same as a ‘use by date’.
    – Compost peelings and responsibly recycle packaging.

A list of basic foods and their carbon footprints from worst to best

    Beef (eating) 60

    Lamb 24

    Chocolate 21

    Cheese 21

    Coffee 17

    Palm oil 8

    Pork 7

    Chicken/ poultry (farmed) 6

    Farmed tinned fish 5

    Eggs 4.5

    Rice 4

    Milk 3

    Sugars 3

    Soy Milk 0.9

    Vegetables 0.4

    Fruits (citrus) 0.3

    Nuts 0.3

Read next

Food waste facts
Which foods go rotten the quickest?
What is anaerobic digestion?

How to save money on the most expensive outfit you’ll only wear once

Your big day can be one of the most expensive events you’ll ever throw in your life, especially with the UK couples spending on average an eye-watering £27,000 on their nuptials.
rent a wedding dress

This has prompted a new wave of savvy brides on a budget to turn to renting their wedding dresses instead of forking out on a frock they will wear only once.

In fact, UK waste prevention company BusinessWaste.co.uk found that after speaking to 2100 brides to be, 4 out of 10 brides would be willing to hire a dress for the day, with many saying that they would rather put the money towards their future as a married couple.

“It’s crazy how much the cost of weddings has sky-rocketed in the last decade, but there are plenty of ways you can save some money and keep within a smaller budget,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesman Mark Hall.

“Renting a wedding dress is a great way to still look the part but save some precious pennies that could be put to much better use in future married life!”

Bargain bridal ballgowns

Currently, the average UK bride will spend around £1,300 on her wedding dress, which is likely to be the most expensive piece of clothing most brides will ever purchase in their lives.

Hall: “The expectations for couples to throw a lavish event for their friends and family has really put the pressure on them to spend more to thrill and excite guests.

“Years ago it used to be a cheap shindig down the local social club, but now couples are spending a small fortune on venues and dresses to rival what they see on social media and in magazines.”

However, nearly half of brides surveyed by BusinessWaste.co.uk said they would be open to the idea of renting a dress instead of buying it outright, giving reasons such as not wanting to overspend on an outfit they would only wear once, and preferring to save the money for more long-term goals such as travelling or a house deposit.

There’s also the factor that wedding dresses take up a lot of valuable wardrobe space!

Sarah from Doncaster is getting married next year, and says she is happy to rent her dress so she and her partner can spend more on their honeymoon – “I’d rather we made some memories just for the two of us rather than being selfish with the cash and spending it on my dress for the day.”

“Plus we’re trying to save for a mortgage, so financially it really doesn’t make sense to me.”

Myriam is currently looking for her dream dress to rent, “I just think you get more choice, rather than what’s in ‘fashion’ at the moment, so I can get something really unique that will suit my personality.”

“Plus I don’t have to worry about getting it professionally cleaned afterwards or figure out where to store it – I can just hand it back!”

Saving the planet – one dress at a time

Renting clothes is not a new concept, with many online platforms being created so you can hire an outfit for any occasion with ease. Most grooms and best men routinely rent their morning suits, after all.

As well as being easy on the bank balance, renting clothes also has the added benefit of being much more sustainable and ensures fewer garments end up in landfill.

Instead of buying a new item that has used new, raw materials and consumed energy to produce and ship to you, eco-conscious shoppers and brides-to-be are keen to make the most of existing garments in a fight against fast fashion.

With 2 million tonnes of textiles being thrown away each year in Europe, it’s no wonder that there has been a huge rise in people looking to reuse as much clothing as possible to stop perfectly good items from being needlessly thrown away.

But can renting a wedding dress really have a big impact on reducing waste and be better for the environment?

Second-hand wedding dress website Still White believes it can, especially since they have resold over 20,000 dresses – saving over 200,000 kg of carbon emissions and 180 million litres of water being used in producing new garments.

And even the PM’s new wife Carrie Symonds is getting in on the act, with reports that she recently hired her frock for their low-key wedding this year.

Hall: “Hiring your wedding dress can not only save you money, but it can also free up more of your time to enjoy your wedding planning and enjoy your big day, whilst being sustainable and helping to reduce waste at the same time.

“It’s a win-win really, so why not hire your dress and do your bit of the planet – one giant white frock at a time?”

Avoca-DOH! Our slightly sarcastic listicle shows you which products to avoid, and how to shop better.

which foods go rotten the quickest

British households are wasting millions of pounds every year because they’ve bought fresh products which have gone bad by the time they get round to eating them.

According to one British food waste and recycling company, it doesn’t have to be that way if we avoid certain products, only buy them when needed, or just shop better.

Food waste collection company BusinessWaste.co.uk says that millennial favourite that is the avocado leads the way with its depressing habit of being too tough to eat one minute it before becomes a squishy mess the next.

“But if we change our shopping and eating habits, we can avoid this enormous waste,” says Business Waste spokesperson Mark Hall.

“And frankly, I can go without smashed avo on toast.”

Top ten of wasted food

We looked at expert research, as well as asking customers about their personal experiences, and have come up with this list of shame. These are the top ten products that British consumers are wasting the most, in listicle form:

Avocados – The trickster gods of fresh foods. The day science discovers the key to preserving avocados for more than 30 seconds, the better.

Berries – You’ve said it: “It’s nice and warm, let’s have strawberries and cream!” Then you forget about the strawberries or raspberries you’ve bought, and before you know it, they’re a brightly coloured smear at the bottom of the fridge.

Milk – Tricky devils, milk. You don’t know that two litre carton has gone off until you pour it into your tea and it comes out as lumps of yoghurt. Thanks for nothing, milk.

Meat – This one could actually kill you if you don’t pay attention. With a shelf life of only a few days, wasted beef, chicken and pork goes into the bin more frequently than you dare admit.

Bananas – The avocado’s apprentice. You buy them a bit green so that they can ripen up at home, then BANG – fit for nothing but tasty cake recipes.

Fresh fruit juice – We forget the fresh juice has a much shorter shelf life than the long-life stuff. The clue’s in the name, and so is the smell of wonky cider when you open the apple juice after it’s gone over.

Grated cheese – Why are you buying grated cheese? It goes off quicker than a block of cheddar, and you’re just making the grater in your utensil drawer sad.

Apples and pears – You buy them because it’s one of your five a day, knowing full well that they’ll actually form none of your five a day, and will end up looking like the back of your granny’s hands within a fortnight.

Carrots – Go to your fridge. Go now. There’s a carrot in the veg drawer you can bend into a full circle, isn’t there? The same goes for all vegetables, but this is a top ten, otherwise this list will reach down to the centre of the Earth. Top tip: Only buy the veg you’re going to eat.

Mushrooms – The only consolation is that they’re small enough not to take up mushroom (much room!) in your bin when you throw them out.

There’s a serious side to this, says Business Waste’s Mark Hall, and it’s that we’re addicted to “over-shopping” – the habit of buying everything we fancy in the so-called ‘big shop’ which many people are now stretching out to last a fortnight.

“Then we’re surprised that the chicken you’ve bought for next Sunday’s roast is smelling like the bottom of a bin,” says Hall, “And instead of just changing your dinner plans, you should be thinking why that bird’s gone off.”

Changing your shopping habits

British households waste around 4.5 million tons of food every year, or approximately 7% of the food we buy. That adds up to £700 per family, annually.

“If you don’t want that £700, I’d quite happily take it off your hands,” says Mark Hall, “but I expect you’d rather keep it through better meal planning and shopping management.”

While it may not be a suitable solution for everybody, the easiest way to prevent food wastage is to plan ahead, then shop often, shop local, and buy less as a result.

But the problem remains: We’ve got so used to anonymous internet shopping where the product is reduced to an idealised picture on a screen, we’ve lost touch with simple skills like portion sizing, and buying sufficient supplies for your family.

“If you’re not pushing that trolley around the supermarket, how do you know when you’ve bought too much?” says Hall.

“Convenience is leading to massive food waste, and we need to stop and take a look at our habits.”

Charity shop treasure…or just trash?

Is your donation worth a fortune, or is it costing charities to get rid of your rubbish?

Donating unwanted items to charity is a great way to support well-deserved causes while having a clear out, but is your unloved junk even making it to the shop floor?

The waste collection experts at BusinessWaste.co.uk have estimated less than a third of donations make it to the shelves in local charity shops after staff have picked through the high-value items for online selling and thrown away the rubbish, which costs shops £100’s of thousands to have collected and disposed of.

“Donated items have to go through a purging process where staff have to decide what stays and what goes, and sometimes this includes what can make a tidy profit online,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesman Mark Hall.

“And beware, people really do try to donate everything, so with the treasure always comes the absolute trash that belongs in a bin.”

charity shop junk

Swapping the shop floor for online auctions

If you’re hitting up a charity shop to see if you can find something worth a small fortune, the odds are it’s already been sifted out for an online auction before it’s even left the stockroom.

Savvy workers and volunteers can spot a treasure from a mile off when rummaging through donations and tend to cherry-pick the best items to sell online for a higher profit, instead of throwing it out on the shelves for a couple of quid.

Certain items are guaranteed to never get to the shop floor as one volunteer in Bradford tells us, “we all know what things are worth and are told to look it up, so most high-value products such as silverware or video games will end up in an online auction.”

Selling online became a lifeline for charities who were unable to sell when the shops were shut during lockdown, with Oxfam reporting increased sales online by 86% over the festive period.

Leading charities such as The British Heart Foundation have partnered up with online selling platforms such as Depop, to promote sustainable fashion and raise much-needed funds online.

It’s not just charity shop workers who are eagled eyed at spotting a bargain, as BusinessWaste.co.uk have learnt about a growing trend of clued-up customers who are searching out bargains that can be sold online for a meaty profit.

Business-brained bargain hunters often use charity shops as a way of scoping out items at low prices that can be resold for a profit, such as a mum from London who found a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales for £11 that turned out to be worth up to £4,000 and has since started an online shop selling collectable items she finds in charity shops. .

And sadly, BW has learned that some people volunteer at charity shops just to line their pockets in this way.

Hall: “It turns out there might actually be some treasure to be found somewhere between the countless Robbie Williams CDs and copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, but only if the resellers haven’t beaten you to it.”

In the bargain bin

Donations that aren’t good enough for the shop floor are sadly destined for the bin, and as BusinessWaste.co.uk knows, this actually costs charities money which can often leave them out of pocket.

The British Heart Foundation estimates it costs ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’ to pay local councils to dispose of unsaleable items.

This is why most charity shops now are getting picky because it’s easier to reject donations than to pay to throw them away.

Hall: “People need to think carefully about what they are planning to donate, by looking at the condition of the item and consider whether it’s something they would be happy buying second-hand themselves.”

One charity shop in South Molton, Devon, estimates it only keeps around 10% of the items it receives, after having to throw away donations such as out of date food, blood-stained clothes, used sex toys, and bags of dog poo.

Hall: “Charity shops are not an alternative for the bin, so if you’re giving them rubbish you’re just wasting their time and money.

“So please stop donating (literal) bags of crap.”

Read next – Weird things donated to charity shops

The greenest cities in the world (and the least) – which international cities top the list for recycling and which don’t make the grade

The need for recycling has, by now, been fairly well cemented into the minds of the general public. Citizens the world over are aware of what can and cannot be given a new lease of life through the recycling process, and – in countries where there are recycling schemes available – generally act accordingly.

But alongside individual action is what happens at a bigger scale – in neighbourhoods, cities or countries. The decisions made by policymakers, city planners and governments also affects the recycling rates of our towns and cities; and some cities worldwide are topping the list for recycling with interesting or innovative ways to ensure they waste as little as possible.

Waste collection experts BusinessWaste.co.uk have compiled a list of the fifteen best cities across the world for recycling – including some hidden gems which you may not have heard of – and five which still have some way to go…

The top 15 greenest cities in the world

1. Vancouver – Canada’s shining jewel when it comes to recycling, the city of Vancouver has increased its rate from 40% to over 60% in just over a decade, with a goal of 80%. The city does this by making recycling part of the circular economy and innovative schemes that reward businesses who upcycle or reuse materials.

2. Singapore City – Singapore generates an impressively small amount of landfill waste per person each year – just 307kg, compared with the average of 380kg across the rest of Asia, according to the Siemens Green City Index. It has a goal to recycle 70% of its waste by 2030, and has increased business participation by introducing laws which make companies responsible for the waste they use.

3. Copenhagen – Aiming for an impressive 70% recycling rate, Copenhagen benefits from the Danes’ enthusiastic support for waste reduction (Circular Copenhagen). Door-to-door collections make it as easy as possible for citizens, and Copenhagen is working towards becoming a zero waste municipality by 2050.

4. Helsinki – Despite struggling with waste collections during the frozen winter months, Helsinki recycles a respectable 58% of its waste. The city has been improving its eco credentials – including green taxis – in recent years, introducing schemes to recycle construction waste and adding a much-needed plastics recycling scheme.

5. Curitiba – Awarded the title of Sustainable City in 2010, Brazil’s Curitiba is environmentally focused by design. A piece in Smart Cities Connect has explored how it prioritises pedestrians over cars, has interconnected green spaces, and – most impressively – has a ‘green exchange’ which allows the city’s poor to exchange collected rubbish (two thirds of which are recycled) for fresh food.

6. Delhi – Despite limited resources, the city of Delhi has achieved an enormous amount when it comes to reducing waste. It has created ‘eco-clubs’ in over a thousand schools, impressing the importance of protecting the environment on young citizens and bolstering the city’s existing culture of ‘careful consumption’ and waste reduction policies (delhi.gov).

7. Los Angeles – Famous the world over, this West Coast city is more than just film stars. Los Angeles recycles almost 80% of its waste according to Columbia Climate School – more than most cities in Europe. Led by a city-wide education drive and company tax concessions for recycling, LA remains fully committed to a zero waste initiative.

8. Leeds –  the UK’s own Leeds is impressive when it comes to recycling – around 40% of its waste is diverted from landfill. Its impressive approach to recycling includes the ‘Leeds by Example’ scheme which has placed over 180 on-street recycling points across the city, which have almost tripled recycling rates in the city centre to 49%. The scheme represents the UK’s biggest effort to improve the level of food and drink packaging recycling rates and sets an example which other UK cities hope to emulate.

9. Vienna –  Innovative Vienna is unusual for keeping its waste management entirely within city bounds rather than shipping it elsewhere (Bloomberg) – and since the introduction of recycling plants in the 1980s, recycling containers for metals, plastics and glass are found all over the city. While Austria has some way to go when it comes to recycling on the whole, Vienna is improving each year.

10. Stockholm – Still in the Scandiavian region, Stockholm is an exceptional example of recycling in Europe, having undergone something of a revolution. According to Sweden.se, 50% of its waste was turned into energy in 2019 and 84% of cans and bottles were recycled. Clothing recycling is also a huge part of Stockholm’s economy, with homegrown fashion giant H&M offering garment recycling in the city’s stores.

11. Seattle – One city using tech to tackle waste problems is Seattle, in Washington State. The city’s use of an app called Recycle-It allows citizens to check waste removal dates and set handy reminders, and has helped increase Seattle’s engagement with its compulsory recycling scheme.

12. Songdo – You may not have heard of this South Korean “smart city”, but it’s doing something truly revolutionary with its waste disposal system. As reported in Bloomberg City Labs, a series of underground pipes automatically collect waste and take them to a processing facility nearby, meaning its citizens can have no excuse not to help Songdo meet its recycling goals.

13. Kamikatsu – Okay – so this one isn’t a city, but Japan’s Kamikatsu, a village isolated on the side of a mountain, is widely known as the ‘waste free town’ Due to its remote location, locals separate their waste into a staggering 34 categories to ensure its waste reduction can be optimised without the need for costly (and environmentally-unfriendly) transportation of waste.

14. Ekilstuna – Another little-heard name, but Sweden’s Ekilstuna is one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world overall. Biofuel public transport and low-carbon power plants earn it this title – but the city’s 100% recycled shopping mall, Retuna, where all goods are donated by citizens and resold on, creating a truly circular economy.

15. San Francisco – Of course, the crown of the most recycling-friendly city must go to one which makes mass recycling work on a huge scale. Landfill disposal in the USA’s San Francisco is at its lowest rate ever, reporting that over 80% of its waste is diverted via reduction, reuse, and recycling schemes every year. This makes it one of the most successful cities in the world for reducing waste sent to landfill, using a mix of incentives for citizens and businesses, educational programmes and cleverly-designed recycling systems to top our list.

But what of the cities where recycling is low on the priority list? Despite global efforts to reduce, reuse and recycling, there remain many cities where recycling is yet to become truly embedded in the culture.

The top 5 least green cities in the world

1. Mexico City – While recycling initiatives have been launched in Mexico City, it has yet to run a smooth system and relies on private waste management. The city closed its largest landfill site, where over 70 million tonnes of waste are already buried and causing environmental problems, almost a decade ago, leading to illegal dumping grounds forming and streets piled high with waste. Just 15% of the city’s waste was recycling, leaving much room for improvement.

2. Beijing – In 2017, Beijing, with a population of 21 million, incinerated or sent to landfill almost all (95%) of its waste according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics – a shocking number for a city which has so many citizens. Despite historically poor recycling rates, China’s ban on importing landfill waste from other countries in 2017 has led to improved efforts to responsibly process its own waste, and the only way is up for Beijing’s figures.

3. Kolkata –  India’s Kolkata has recycling rates well below the international average. While India recycles approximately 60% of its plastic waste, the city of Kolkata is growing so quickly that it struggles to implement effective recycling collection and processing, leading to a growing problem with landfill in the area. It’s a problem which faces many fast-developing cities, who are under both ethical and legal pressure to meet increasingly important global targets.

4. New York – It isn’t only developing cities which are wasteful, however. The Big Apple, despite aggressive recycling drives across the city, fail at the most important hurdle – producing less waste in the first place. According to Grow NYC, in 2019 the city’s residents produced 12,000 tonnes of waste per day, which it farms out largely to nearby landfills.

5. Kuwait – Indeed, being an incredibly wealthy city doesn’t mean having a robust recycling programme – despite being in one of the richest countries in the world in terms of GDP, Kuwait City’s citizens generate twice the global average of waste per day and less than 10% of it is recycled. Grassroots movements to improve recycling in the city have been introduced, but it has a long way to go.

Mark Hall, spokesperson for BusinessWaste.co.uk, said:

“Countries the world over are tackling waste in innovative and interesting ways, but many lag behind. The challenge over the next decade will be bringing all cities to a standard where waste reduction is made part of policy, not merely a target to let slide by – and in the meantime technology and science continue to innovate to make our collective impact on the planet less harmful.

“Some of the best approaches covered in this list are ones which take local requirements and considerations into account – cities and towns working with their specific geography or economic status to improve their approach to recycling. This is something that is key for cities, towns or regions to incorporate into their own waste disposal policies in future, to ensure the best possible uptake and to minimise impact on the local environment.”

According to a recent study by the Office for National Statistics, around 14.9% of adults in the UK consider themselves to be smokers, meaning that the safe disposal of cigarette butts and similar was products is vital if we want to protect the planet for future generations. While the safe disposal of cigarette waste lies mainly on the shoulders of the smoker, it can also prove to be a real issue for those who work within the hospital industry.

With that in mind, here is a guide regarding everything you need to know about Cigarette Butts and their disposal.

cigarette butt disposal

Cigarette Butt FAQs.

What are cigarette butts?

Many people mistakenly believe that cigarettes do not produce too much waste, as they often leave behind little residue after the tobacco has been burned or smoked. However, it’s important that we think carefully about what they do leave behind. Cigarette butts are made from cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that takes upwards of 10 years to decompose. This means that while dropping the end of a cigarette on the ground here and there might not seem like much of an issue, they are actually doing untold damage to the environment. In fact, the National Geographic found that cigarette butts are the world’s most littered plastic items.

How many people drop cigarette butts?

While there are plenty of ways to dispose of cigarette butts safely, a staggering amount of cigarettes are dropped in the streets or down the drain. As a result, the UK government launched a #BinTheButt campaign in 2019, aiming to target the issue. During their research, they found that:

52% of smokers thought that it was okay to put a cigarette down the drain.
11% of smokers do not classify cigarette butts as litter.
75% of smokers report dropping cigarette litter on the floor.

Not only does cigarette litter cause great environmental damage, collecting or picking up discarded waste costs the government a great deal of money annually.

How do cigarette butts contribute to pollution?

Cigarette butts contribute to pollution when they are dropped down drains or into the street, as they could later find their way into rivers, streams, or even the ocean. It’s estimated that around 4.7 trillion cigarettes can be found in the ocean each year – which causes a great deal of damage to water sources and threatens marine life.

Are there any chemicals in cig butts?

Cigarettes and cigarette butts also contribute heavily to pollution because they release certain chemicals and toxins while degrading. This includes:

    • Nicotine
    • Arsenic
    • Lead
    • Formaldehyde
    Polyaromatic hydrocarbons

Are Cigarette Butts biodegradable?

One of the key issues regarding the disposal of cigarette butts is the simple fact that they are not biodegradable. While exposure to sunlight can cause them to break down into smaller particles, they will never disappear entirely.

How can they be recycled?

Cigarette waste is stored in specialist bins before collection.
The waste is then collected by a licensed waste carrier and taken to a specialist facility.
Paper waste and residual tobacco products are separated from the rest of the cigarette waste and composted. This is a great way to dispose of organic waste without relying on landfill sites. You can find out more here.
Cigarette butts litter (cellulose acetate) is thoroughly cleaned to remove the traces of chemicals or hazardous waste.
The plastic is then melted and turned into pellets. This process is known as extrusion.
The pellets are then mixed with other kinds of plastic, ready to be reused or repurposed.

What can Cigarette Butts be made into?

Recycled pellets, produced in the Cigarette butt recycling process, can be used to make a wide range of plastic products. This includes:

    • Drain Pipes/Gutters
    • Pipes
    • Fencing
    • Decking
    Window and door frames

How to dispose of Cigarette Butts?

Whether you work in a pub, bar, restaurant or simply have employees who smoke, it’s important that you incorporate cigarette butt disposal into your waste management plan. One way in which you can achieve this goal is by working with a company such as BusinessWaste. We will:

Provide you with a range of free bins to safely store waste on-site.
Arrange for the regular collection of your business waste – tailoring the schedule to your unique needs. As each business requires a different schedule, we offer daily, weekly, or even monthly waste collection plans.
Ensure that your waste is taken to the right recycling facility instead of sending it directly to a landfill site.

To find out more information, or for a free quote, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

Move over track and trace – it’s time to trash and trace

Do you know what happened to your waste collection? Blockchain might.

The last 12 months have literally been rubbish – especially with an overwhelming amount of fly tipping being reported across the UK. And we’ve all heard about the NHS track and trace service to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, so what if there was a way to use a similar programme to prevent fly tipping?

Trusted waste collection company BusinessWaste.co.uk have proposed a ‘trash and trace’ scheme to stop dodgy waste collectors from dumping your waste at the side of the road.

“There needs to be some kind of encrypted database that all waste collections can be logged into by law, like a blockchain for waste, so fly tipping can easily be traced back to the perpetrator”, says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesman Mark Hall.

“It would be easy to put in place and will safeguard customers from being conned by dodgy disposers.”

Using blockchain in the fight against grime

Another lockdown, another clear-out – but after a long year of on-and-off again Covid-19 restrictions, you may be tempted to hire someone to come and remove your waste instead of dragging it all down the tip.

Currently, waste collectors need to be licensed with the Environmental Agency, but there are plenty of unlicensed ‘man-with-a-van’ adverts online promising to remove your waste for a fraction of the cost.

And recently, Divert.co.uk revealed that just 1 in 50 tradespeople have waste carrier licences, which could land customers with hefty fines if their rubbish is dumped

This is why rubbish experts BusinessWaste.co.uk are calling for an online database that all waste carriers must use by law, to prove traceability for their trash.

Spokesman Mark Hall says, “using an online blockchain system to log all waste collections will ensure that all rubbish is accounted for, so if piles of rubbish are dumped they can be traced on the system to the people responsible.”

So what is blockchain?

Simply put, it’s a way of recording information that is impossible to hack or change because every time new data is added it is replicated across the whole network for computers on the chain.

Blockchains are popular online on platforms such as Bitcoin because not one person is charge as it is run by all who use it, making it a fair system that can be trusted.

Hall: “This is exactly the type of technology we need in the fight against grime, something that can’t be hacked into by clever criminals looking for a sneaky way to break the system.”

“A trashy trove of evidence”

Fly tipping has hugely increased across the UK in the last 12 months, with the Countryside Alliance reporting a 300% rise in some areas since the start of Covid-19 lockdown.

And recently, a BBC Panorama investigation found that the government licensing system for waste carriers was cheap and easy to obtain with minimal background checks conducted – but there’s no way of knowing if they have honest intentions to properly dispose of your waste and not dump it.

Hall: “Dishonest disposers are leaving a trashing trove of evidence that can lead straight to your front door, but if there is a database that they have to log the collection in then they simply won’t get away with it.”

BusinessWaste.co.uk’s call for a ‘trash and trace’ system will hold all waste carriers to account, making it easier for customers to pick a disposal company they can trust.

Hall: “With our proposal, you will no longer be stung by dodgy man-with-a-van types on social media promising to clear your garden for a bargain price – giving you peace of mind that you won’t be footing a clean-up fee from the council if your trash is found littering a lay-by.

“It’s time to change up the system of how we manage waste disposal and crack down on illegal litterbugs fly tipping across the UK.”

Only 1 in 50 clean their bins – Britain’s stinky streets

That’s wheelie grim

Shocking results of a survey by a waste collection company show that just 1 in 50 – that’s 2% – of all people regularly clean their wheelie bins – leaving unsavoury bacteria to multiply.

Our household bins aren’t often given much thought, it seems, as the result of BusinessWaste.co.uk’s survey of over 3,000 households shows that very few ever cleaned out their rubbish bins. While it may seem pointless to clean something that’s going to be filled with waste, there’s method to the madness. In warmer months, the heat combined with food debris and decomposing rubbish mean these dark, warm enclosed spaces become a magnet for flies and, horrifyingly, bins can quickly become full of maggots.

As well as helping control that unpleasant bin smell that plagues back alleys and bin stores everywhere in summer, cleaning your wheelie bins helps remove the build up of bacteria and food debris that accumulates through use, deterring flies and their larvae – the pesky maggot.

The BusinessWaste.co.uk survey respondents were a mixed bunch. Of those surveyed:

87% ‘never’ cleaned their wheelie bins at all

11% had cleaned their bin ‘once or twice’

2% cleaned their bins regularly

Many saw cleaning as pointless, with Katie, 32, from Northampton, echoing a popular sentiment: “I’m just putting rubbish back into it – why would I bother?”, and many others saying the job was “disgusting”, “smelly” or “too difficult due to size”.

The rare few who cleaned their bins regularly were horrified to learn this wasn’t the done thing, with one survey respondent noting: “There’s nothing worse than the smell of the bins in summer – I wouldn’t be able to open my kitchen window if I didn’t make sure it wasn’t stinking of bin juice”. One concerned friend, Mike from Ilkley, said “We even bought our friends a year’s worth of a wheelie bin cleaning service as a jokey wedding gift – and they didn’t renew it!”.

360 L wheelie bin

How can I stop my wheelie from smelling?

General waste bins, food caddies and glass and can bins are the biggest culprits, as they’re more likely to be attractive to pests and flies than cardboard bins.

Properly rinsing all recycling – as we should be doing anyway – will help deter flies from your recycling bin or box, as will ensuring all general waste is disposed of in bags. But once the bin has started to take on that familiar whiff, how can you get rid of it?

Hot soapy water swilled in after bin collection and tipped down the drain is a great start – and a capful of disinfectant liquid will help to kill germs. For those whose bins are further gone, a hose or garden jet washer will get the more stubborn (or disgusting) matter off the bottom and tackle the bacteria causing smells. Tipping bins on their side will make it easier to access them and prevent any unpleasant ‘falling in’ accidents.

Of course, if you’re desperate to tackle the smell but don’t want to take on the task yourself, there are dedicated wheelie bin cleaning services that will take on this important job for you. Coming at regular intervals and for reasonable prices, they’ll take your bin from grim back to sparkling – keeping flies and maggots at bay, and ensuring your back garden or side return doesn’t smell like the last day in a festival toilet.

Learn how to clean a wheelie bin

Mark Hall, spokesperson for BusinessWaste.co.uk, said:

“It’s shocking but perhaps not surprising that so few people clean their wheelie bins – after all, they’re dirty, smelly, and generally kept out of sight and out of mind. But as anyone who’s had an infestation of maggots in their bin knows, it can quickly become very unpleasant during the summer months, and with the current hot weather set to last throughout summer it’s the perfect time to give your bin a spruce up.”

“Although your wheelie bin might be causing a stink, it’s still not the worst smell, the 10 worst smells

Over 15 million empty chairs and desks create furniture furor: work from home sparks landfill concerns

If a quarter of businesses close office space, around 15 million desks and chairs will no longer be in use

“Businesses should not forget their obligation to dispose of waste responsibly”

London tops the list as nation’s capital, but other cities face enormous surplus of furniture

Office desk recycling

A game of musical (empty) chairs, or a landfill disaster? The move toward home working could cause a landfill influx of millions of chairs and desks as offices close or downsize following Covid-19, warns BusinessWaste.co.uk.

The business waste specialists are warning of a mountain of unwanted office furniture making its way to landfill as companies embrace a new way of working – and closing offices as a result.

A study undertaken by YouGov showed that a quarter of UK businesses are planning to close or downsize their office space as a result of a shift toward home working, with the BBC reporting that over 50 major employees have ‘no plans to return full time’.

There were over 6 million private sector businesses in the UK in 2020 (ONS) – the vast majority (5.94m) of which were small businesses, which have an average of 10 employees. If a quarter of businesses closed their office space, this would mean around 15 million desks and chairs no longer in use.

London, as the nation’s capital, has the largest square footage of office stock at 140m sq ft – the next closest, Manchester (20m sq ft), Birmingham (18m sq ft) and Glasgow (13m q ft), are all less likely to see huge influxes of office furniture being turfed out. But even cities with a few million office workers are going to feel the effects – both economic, in city centres, and environmental, as office supplies are ripped out and unceremoniously thrown away.

Worryingly, if even half of the 1.5 million businesses looking to shift their working patterns merely downsized, it would still create an enormous excess of office furniture ready to be sent to the tip – and charity shops aren’t the answer.

A spokesperson for BusinessWaste.co.uk said:

“Charity shops are full to the brim with stuff people have cleared out during pandemic spring cleaning – and most don’t have the capacity to store bulky items like desks and chairs in large numbers. Plus, even if they did, there’s no resale market – other offices are closing down en masse, so there’s nobody who wants to buy them.”

It’s certainly at risk of becoming a strain on waste centres. Second hand office retailers or reselling sites like eBay, previously a great choice for cheap office renovations or new businesses short of cash, are overflowing with second-hand furniture at ever-lower prices, and even waste disposal centres don’t have the capacity to cope with larger amounts of office furniture at once.

Mark Hall added:

“Nobody wants – or has the space for – bulky corporate desks in their home working spaces. At the beginning of the first UK lockdown, furniture retailers such as IKEA and Argos were selling out of their more attractive offerings as soon as they were restocked These desks tend to be smaller, with more chance of being able to match them to your decor – not many people have ‘office chic’ as the theme of their dining room or spare bedroom! As a result, office furniture is set to be heading to landfill in frankly alarming numbers.

“Some furniture types can be recycled effectively – chipboard and metal, both of which are key components of many office desks, can be recycled effectively, but it remains to be seen whether businesses take the time to separate them into the individual components and recycle them appropriately. We certainly hope so.

“Some retailers, such as IKEA – who are a popular choice, especially among smaller businesses who love their cheap and cheerful pieces, offer to buy back or recycling schemes, so this is something we hope will be used, too.

“But realistically, we are still about to have millions and millions of desks and chairs heading to landfill sites – a real concern. Businesses should not forget their obligation to dispose of waste responsibly, even in unusual circumstances such as this.”

Food and energy waste are the only things being created in these kitchens

The majority of the food you see on TV cooking shows ends up in the bin and totally wasted. Why?!

According to one waste management company, that sets a terrible example to the rest of us and we need to put a (saucepan) lid on it.

UK food waste management company BusinessWaste.co.uk is appalled by the volume of food being wasted to provide TV entertainment, especially while there are people living on foodbanks.

Company spokesman Mark Hall says, “We have families who rely on donations at their local food banks to survive, yet if they turn on a telly they can see plates of food being created which are destined for the bin.”

“It should be illegal for cooking shows to waste food while we have people starving up and down the country.”

Bad taste

TV programmes such as Masterchef, The Great British Bake Off and Saturday Kitchen are among some of the most watched shows in the UK, but as viewers watch lavish dishes being made, they are often unaware that much of it is destined for the bin.

But as approximately 1.6 million people were reported to have used a food bank in 2019, it seems ridiculous to think how much extra food is being wasted due to cooking shows, especially considering that 9.5million tonnes of UK food waste was binned in 2018.

food waste cooking shows

Hall: “Seeing all the food waste being created has left a bad taste in my mouth, food should not be allowed to be wasted when we have people starving”.

Plates of food end up being sat out for hours under warm stage lighting during filming to the point that it becomes inedible, so due to health and safety it often gets thrown away.

This is why BusinessWaste.co.uk wants food waste created by entertainment programmes to be made illegal.

Hall: “More needs to be done to reduce the amount of food unnecessarily going in the bin, so by tightening up rules and regulations it should make shows think about how to deal with the food produced”.

Some programmes such as Masterchef have already released statements about their food waste policies, highlighting that they only order the amount of food necessary and try to reuse ingredients or donate leftovers to nearby charities and food banks.

And if rumours are to be believed, leftovers from The Great British Bake Off often find their way into the bellies of Prue Leith’s neighbours’ pigs.

Hall: “We appreciate that some efforts have been made to reduce waste, but there is always more that can be done – and making TV food waste illegal will ensure no food gets thrown away”.

Carbon footprints

Along with making TV food waste illegal, Business Waste are also advocating for producers to consider the carbon footprint created by sourcing ingredients for each programme.

Transporting produce such as out-of-season berries accounts for 11% of the UK’s food travel emissions, which can be easily reduced by using locally sourced in-season food.

“There’s definitely a problem when all the ingredients sourced for one plate of food has travelled enough miles to cover the Earth just to create one meal for the screen,” says company spokesman Mark Hall.

“It’s not a sustainable way to cook, so producers need to look more at locally sourced ingredients that have been sustainably sourced.”

Cooking in the age of Covid

2021 has thrown an extra spanner in the works with TV food waste, as during the Covid-19 pandemic many shows are having to throw more away due to safety measures put in place.

“Many programmes are now running on a skeleton-crew, which means there are fewer people on set to scoff up the leftovers,” says Hall.

It has also been reported that in some cases, bosses aren’t allowing the food to be shared out due to social distancing measures and fears of contamination.

Hall: “Food has been particularly scarce this year as it is, and many more people are finding themselves in dire straits trying to put food on the table for their families, so it’s essential that we make waste from these entertainment programmes illegal.

“Maybe it’s time to ditch the cooking shows altogether, especially in a time like this when food is hard enough to find on the supermarket shelves.”

Read next –

Only 34% of families cook a meal from scratch each week

Kitchen waste management

How to arrange food waste collections

What is anaerobic digestion?

The one that was only worn once…

Pampering your pet rotten? That’s great, but those oh-so-funny novelty dog outfits are a huge waste of money and resources. 

While most dog owners treat their pets with snacks and toys, many owners will follow the trend of buying their dogs clothing, as experts predict that the UK pet industry could be worth £2billion by 2023.

Waste Management Company BusinessWaste.co.uk is concerned about how many of these canine costumes are being thrown away, as pet owners splash the cash treating their pups and dressing them up.

“Many of these outfits are one-hit wonders, whether it’s just for a quick snap on Instagram or a family photo,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “odds are the dog hates wearing it, and you’ll never bother with the struggle of getting that pirate outfit back on them again.”

dog outfit landfill

A glimpse inside the ‘paw-drobe’

With hundreds of dog outfits available on the market, BusinessWaste.co.uk asked pet owners about their most memorable pet dressing up experience.

Sarah, Poole: “I’ve spent £100s on clothes for my westie Harry, he looks cute and he loves it. Once the outfit is on, he’s such a diva, especially in his cowboy booties. And he can’t go for a walk without his coat on, he’ll catch a chill.”

Holly, London: “My partner and I have four pugs, and we love dressing them up as the superheroes we named them after. We might have taken it a bit too far when we tried to put a mask on Spider-man and he tried to bite us.”

Nick, Luton: “I buy my dog Wesley a new reindeer costume every Christmas for the family photo. I’d reuse the one from the year before, but he always manages to poo in them. We even put him in a nappy one year to try and stop him ruining another outfit, but history found a way to repeat itself.”

Andrew, Blackpool: “My five stone rottweiler Rover ran away once, and it took us two hours to get him back. One look at the cat costume my wife had bought him, and he bolted. If she really wants a cat she should just go and get one.”

Tracey, Wolverhampton: “By dressing up our staffy Buzz, our family isn’t limited to just enjoying a regular dog. The kids get to play with a spaceman, a dinosaur or even Pikachu. It’s so hard keeping them interested in things, but they’re never bored when they get to dress up the dog!”

It’s not just dressing up dogs in fancy dress that owners enjoy says spokesman Mark Hall, there’s a growing trend in people buying outfits to match with their dog.

In 2019, clothing company Missguided launched a ‘twinning’ pet clothing collection to match outfits to owners, which saw 20,000 visitors visit the range online in the first 48 hours.

“People buy these outfits for the perfect Instagram moment, but it’s not something that the dog wants to be plausibly running around in for much more than a photo,” Says Hall, “with such a focus on sustainable fashion, we need to make sure this extends to four-legged fashion too.”

A new lease of life

While many pet owners think dressing their dogs up is cute, BusinessWaste.co.uk are concerned by the many canine clothes that are being thrown in the bin after just a single wear.

“Seeing as most owners admit to only putting their pup into the outfit once, I’m surprised that a dog outfit rental business hasn’t taken off,” Says Mark Hall, “There would be no waste as clothes can be washed and reused.”

There are plenty of ways dog clothes can be repurposed, as unwanted outfits can be donated to charity shops or to a local dog shelter as long as they are clean and in good repair.

 “We use the warmer clothes such as jumpers for pups who need them, but we also have a lot of fun using the fancy dress outfits for online campaigns and adoption adverts,” says Jo, a volunteer at a dog rescue centre.

“We recently had a family come in to adopt a terrier we put up a picture of dressed up as Elvis. They found the photo hilarious and wanted to take him home.”

Hall says BusinessWaste.co.uk encourages swapping outfits with other pet owners, to reduce the amount of clothing is being needlessly bought, therefore you can get more use out of the outfits with the added bonus of keeping your dog’s Instagram content fresh.

“And if your dog runs out of outfits for Instagram, why not consider dressing yourself up as your dog? You could start a new trend.”

Anything to stop the outfits taking a ‘walkies’ to landfill, we say.

Time to clean up our makeup habits

We’re flushing away or binning an astonishing 11 billion wet wipes every year which can take up to 100 years to biodegrade.

BusinessWaste.co.uk, waste management specialists, are concerned about the volume of waste being created by the number of makeup wipes and says that women and men across their country need to change their ways.

“Makeup wipes are the quickest and cheapest way to remove makeup on the market, but this doesn’t mean they’re the best option for the environment,” says Mark Hall, company spokesman.

But as global sales of all wet wipes are set to hit £16 billion by 2021, it’s time to scrub away our nations unhealthy habits of using makeup wipes, he says.

Time to clean up

We all know that using makeup wipes is bad for the environment, but because they’re an incredibly convenient way to remove makeup, it’s easy to convince yourself that one wipe a day won’t cause too much damage.

Millions of consumers rely on makeup wipes as they promise to wash away the day in seconds using just one product, making them cost effective and a low maintenance part of their daily routines.

But despite the plush cotton feel makeup wipes have on your face, they actually contain a mix of plastic fibres such as polyester and polypropylene which prevent them from biodegrading.

BusinessWaste.co.uk warns that they break down into micro-plastics and smaller fibres which will end up polluting the oceans and entering the food chain.

“With such a high number of wipes being used, there’s a lot of single-use plastic coming into the world,” says spokesperson Mark Hall, “the only way to prevent this happening is to stop using them.”

To add to the damage, makeup wipes and other wet wipes are not recyclable, meaning that the only way they can be properly disposed of is to put them into your rubbish bin.

“For heavens sake do not flush makeup wipes down the toilet,” warns Mark Hall, “you’ll only break your toilet and block up the sewers.

“You don’t want poo flooding your bathroom, do you?”

“I know it’s hard to get hold of toilet paper at the moment, but this is not the answer.”

With 9.3 million wet wipes being flushed down the loo every day, they account for a staggering 93% of all sewer blockages, and makeup wipes are a big contribution to this problem.

BusinessWaste.co.uk explain that flushing anything other than toilet paper down the loo could add to ‘fatbergs’ in the sewers, which are caused by a build-up of fat and non-biodegradable materials such as wet wipes, which can lead to sewers blocking or overflowing.

Fortunately, several brands are leading the way, such as high street store Holland & Barrett pledging to remove all wet wipes from their stores, and brand Huggies aiming to remove all plastics from their wipes in the next five years.

“Thank god people are taking action, otherwise our entire planet is going to be covered in a layer of makeup wipes,” says Hall, “imagine a squishy wet wipe mush underfoot everywhere you go. Yuck.”

What alternatives are there?

With many people knowing that makeup wipes are bad news for the environment, alternative ways to remove makeup are becoming increasingly popular, so why isn’t everyone is making the change?

“I’ll admit, I buy the cheap makeup wipes from the supermarket, but then I end up using 4 instead of 1,” says shopper Heidi in Lancaster, “but I still think it’s cheaper than whatever else is out there.”

Makeup wipes can cost as little as a pound for a pack, whereas plastic free alternatives can cost ten times that, so it’s easy to see why people are finding it hard to make the switch.

We’ve put together a list of inexpensive alternatives to help people cut down on makeup wipe use.

Invest in a washable makeup remover cloth which only needs to be run under a tap before use. It can be chucked in your washing machine when you’ve used it, which over time will be much cheaper than restocking on makeup wipes.

Use a gentle soap and some water and little bit of arm power.

Stop wearing makeup every day, saves on wipes and saves you money! This is the ideal lockdown solution.

Ultimately, we need to get people to realise that makeup wipes are a single-use plastic, like carrier bags and straws says company spokesman Mark Hall.

“If people can take their own bags to the supermarket, then they can wipe out the wet wipe.”

Is your work outing harming the planet?

Conferences and trade shows are the equivalent of the ‘school trip’ to staff members, often wrapped up in the guise of being a place to research other companies and suppliers – but we all know the main reason to go is to stock up on all the freebie pens.

But is it worth paying expenses to send your staff off on their jollies for a day, will it really benefit your business?

According to UK based Business Waste, conferences do not provide any information that cannot already be sourced online or gained by speaking to representatives over the phone or through emails.

“It’s a complete waste of time and energy putting a conference together,” says company spokesman Mark Hall.

“You have people travelling the length and breadth of the country to turn up, and the amount of energy used is unnecessary – get with the time and move it all online. That’s what LinkedIn is for.”

“It’s an environmental crime”

It’s no big secret that if you want to make it in business, it’s all about making connections – but do these really need to be face-to-face?

While it’s true that conferences and trade shows can provide learning opportunities and in person interactions with potential future contacts, they also carry big carbon footprints, according to UK based BusinessWaste.co.uk

The average conference attendee emits approximately 145KG of CO2 emissions per day, but this can often be as high as two tonnes per person if there is extensive travelling such as flights involved, and the average number of attendees at one conference is approximately 258 people.

You do the maths, that’s a lot of CO2 for one conference.

“The carbon footprint of each person travelling to a conference is unnecessary damage being done to our planet,” says company spokesman Mark Hall.

“It’s an environmental crime being committed, and physical attendance should be stopped. All conferences should be online events.”

Online events are nothing new, and there are many benefits to them such as being able to reach a broader audience, and no travelling means they are significantly cheaper for employers to cover the expenses for.

And if 2020 has taught us all anything, it’s how to use Zoom.

Hall: “Seminars and shows can still be held via video link apps such as Zoom, with question and answer sections at the end so people can still feel like they are able to engage with the group and presenter.”
ban conferences

Virtual conferences would be an ideal way for big and small companies to generate business to companies further afield due to the worldwide connection of the internet, and events could still generate revenue by charging for participation.

“It’s a no brainer really.”

Wrap them up…but not in plastic

Travelling isn’t the only damaging aspect of attending conferences, as they are often jam-packed with single-use items including name tags, badges, plastic bottles, and laminated guides.

Emma is a consultant from Leeds, and tells us that she came away from the last show she went to with bags of plastic items, “Each stand hands you out bags of brochures, stress balls, keyrings, all kinds of corporate tat that no one really wants or has a need for.”

“And just when you think you’d seen enough plastic you go for lunch and all the vendors are using plastic cutlery and disposable cups.”

Plastic pollution created by conferences can easily be reduced by catering with washable plates and cups and asking exhibitors to go plastic-free with their giveaways.

The change could be as simple as providing stainless steel drink bottles to attendees and setting up refill spots around the venue, in order to combat the thousands of plastic bottles being thrown away daily at these events.

UK based BusinessWaste.co.uk believes that the amount plastic produced by conferences and shows just provides more evidence that these events should be made illegal to physically attend as the waste created is damaging the planet.

Hall says: “These events not only require people to travel long distances, but they promote the throw-away culture that we urgently need to move away from to save the planet.

“Going plastic free, although a great step in the right direction, won’t be enough to slow the rate of climate change, which is why we are asking for laws to make them illegal.”

“The future of our planet is not worth risking for free pens.”

We crumple them, shove them in coat pockets and find them forgotten in shopping bags every day – the humble receipt may not seem like a big problem, but waste collection company BusineseWaste.co.uk says paper receipts should be banned to stop them heading to landfill.

Over 11.2 billion paper till receipts are printed each year by retailers in the UK – a staggering number that generates enough paper to reach to the moon and back. Shoppers are increasingly conscientious about their recycling habits, meaning that a large number of these pieces of paper are thoughtfully discarded into paper recycling. But BusinessWaste.co.uk say this is not quite as helpful as it seems – concerningly, till receipts are not only non-recyclable in most cases, they’re also potentially harmful.

Despite this, UK shoppers are overwhelmingly unaware, with 95% saying they believed receipts were recyclable in a study undertaken by BusinessWaste.co.uk. Just 1% of the 2000 people surveyed knew they were non-recyclable, with 4% unsure either way.

till receipt ban

Common responses from survey takers included:

“Yes – it’s paper!”

“If I remember to take them out of my wallet, they go straight in the recycling.”

“I usually chuck them in the on-street recycling bins as soon as I leave the shop.”

Although well-meaning, these shoppers could be adding to a bigger problem – and one which BusinessWaste.co.uk says requires a receipt ban altogether.

About half of receipts are printed of a special type of paper which reacts to heat. The till ‘printer’ contains no ink, but rather heats the paper in the pattern needed to make the text appear: a clever trick, but one which hides a more worrying fact.

This thermal paper contains two chemicals, known as BPA and BPS, which are classed as toxic to people and the environment – so much so, that plastic water bottles are no longer allowed to contain these harmful chemicals, which can cause hormonal changes and have been linked with a risk of cancer. Yet millions of pieces of paper containing both BPA and BPS find their way to both landfill and recycling centres each year – contaminating the other waste or releasing the dangerous chemicals into the air.

Mark Hall, spokesperson for BusinessWaste.co.uk, said the solution is simple.

“We simply need to ban receipts altogether. Most people find them annoying as it is – how often do we throw them in the nearest bin as soon as we exit a shop or, equally wastefully, decline them after they’ve been printed, leaving till staff to throw them away?

“Some retailers have introduced electronic receipts, sent by email, and we think this is a great alternative, particularly as it makes it easier for consumers to find if they did need to return or check the warranty on a product. It could also be done by text or QR code, giving consumers the option to decline the receipt altogether or enter their details to get it sent to their phone or emails.

“For those who need to collect receipts for expense or tax purposes, having digital receipts would save bulging files with scraps of paper for long-suffering accountants to sift through at the end of the year – it’s a win-win. For those who don’t need to save each one, more retailers need to give customers the option to say no to pointless pieces of paper – or offer environmentally friendly alternatives.

“We’re aware that some retailers have shifted towards using a different type of paper in their receipts which is recyclable, but we think this is just creating another form of waste that enters the recycling process: it’s usually entirely unnecessary.”

For when you want to sesh with the squad but still respect the environment

Want to have a drink AND do something good for the environment? While celebrating the hideous goo you find at the bottom of bins?

Boy, have you come to the right place, because two of the UK’s leading waste collection experts have gone into the brewery business together to raise awareness of the impact rubbish has on the planet while delivering tasty, tasty beer.

BusinessWaste.co.uk and Divert.co.uk’s new joint venture, ‘Bin Juice’, contains a range of flavours that aims to get people talking about Mother Nature and being an ethical choice for conscientious consumers by using recycled cans.

BusinessWaste.co.uk company spokesman Mark Hall says, “We’re always looking for new ways to get our eco-friendly message across, and who doesn’t need a drink after the year we’ve all had?”

“So kick back, relax, and get a Bin Juice down you – we’ve got the rubbish side of things covered.”

You’d better beer-lieve it!

The boozy new business venture between BusinessWaste.co.uk and Divert.co.uk has been brewing for a while and aims to get Britain talking about the environment while enjoying a refreshing can of ale.

“I’ve always wanted to make my own beer and this was the perfect opportunity,” says Hall.

“Once we drafted up the name for Bin Juice we knew we were onto a winner – who doesn’t want to drink something with a silly name?”

There’s something for everyone in the Bin Juice range, including the following flavours:

‘The Brown Bin’ – A nice earthy-toned brown ale
‘Hot Summer’s Day’ – A fruity sour beer
‘Black Bags’ – A nice stout
‘The Old Chair’ – A lemon and marshmallow premium flavoured beer
Hall: “All of our booze is completely rubbish-free, there is no bitter aftertaste and you won’t find any bin bags or bits of old chairs in your tinnie.


“The only thing rubbish about this ale is the name.”

The good news keeps flowing, as following Bin Juice’s success, a wine range using recycled glass bottles may be added to the collection.

Hall: “We know beer is not for everybody, so if you prefer wine glasses over beer goggles we’ve got you sorted.

“We’re thinking of calling it Chateau Binbag.

“Who knows, if the wine is a success maybe after lockdown we’ll keep going and open a pub called ‘The Dump’.”

Drinking at home? Yes, you can!

Bin Juice is the perfect beverage for drinkers who want to positively impact the environment, as each drink comes in a recycled can.

80 million aluminium and steel cans are sent to UK landfills every day, creating a mountain of waste that is doing nothing good for the planet.

Divert.co.uk and BusinessWaste.co.uk have tackled this growing problem head-on by recycling old cans for their Bin Juice range, reducing the amount that ends up rotting away in landfill.

Hall: “Each can will be thoroughly sterilised before being repurposed for Bin Juice, so you’ll be happy to know there are no actual bin dregs in your drink.

“All the packaging can easily be recycled again, so the only thing getting wasted is you.”

And if you’ve found yourself drinking more than usual in the last 12 months at home then you’re not alone, as it’s estimated that a quarter of UK adults have reporting drinking more while the pubs have been closed.

UK pub gardens aren’t set to reopen until the 12th of April, with indoor seating not allowed until the 17th of May under the current government roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions.

And those itching to throw some shapes on the dancefloor in a nightclub will have to wait even longer until the 21st of June when all restrictions are lifted.

“Look, the pubs are shut and you’ve been stuck inside drinking for a year, so why not mix it up and crack open a Bin Juice instead of your usual tipple of choice,” says spokesman Mark Hall.

“Forget about the sticky floors of your local pub during this lockdown, grab a Bin Juice and let the good times flow.”

Why not switch to a plastic-free alternative?

Enough plastic waste to circle the globe twice is the annual result of us cleaning our teeth with toothpaste from tubes that can’t be recycled.

With the global toothpaste industry worth tens of billions per year, one waste and recycling company thinks it’s high time its house was put in order.

The UK’s waste management company BusinessWaste.co.uk is concerned about the volume of plastic waste being thrown away due to toothpaste tubes and are calling for plastic free alternatives.

“Toothpaste is an essential hygiene item that people will always buy” says Mark Hall, company spokesman, “however the problem is the packaging; does it really need to come in a plastic tube?”

Brushing up on the facts

We use 300 million tubes of toothpaste every year. Spread end-to-end that’s about 75,000 kilometres of plastic, almost twice around the world. And that’s just users in the UK.

The problem is that they are usually made of different types of plastics, and many brands contain a metal layer inside the tube which isn’t easy to separate.

“A lot of toothpaste tubes have that layer of aluminium in to keep them fresh, but this makes it a recycling nightmare,” says spokesman Mark Hall, “so unfortunately most tubes will end up at a landfill.”

This worries BusinessWaste.co.uk, as on average, it takes 500 years for a toothpaste tube to fully biodegrade in landfill, meaning that every tube you have used in your lifetime could still be out there in a big hole in the ground.

Fortunately, pump-action toothpaste tubes can be easier to recycle, says Hall, but you will still need to check with your local council to see if they can be collected.

Not only are plastic toothpaste tubes bad for the environment, there’s a high chance you might not be getting your money’s worth with up to 10% of the product remaining when you think it’s empty.

“Manufacturers do this on purpose,” says spokesman Mark Hall, “it’s all designed to make you buy a replacement tube sooner.”

“Plastic toothpaste tubes aren’t beneficial for the earth or your value for money.”

Plastic-free solutions

With people growing more concerned about their plastic footprint, many companies are inventing clever solutions to reduce the amount of plastic we throw away, and this includes dental hygiene.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best plastic-free toothpaste alternatives for you to sink your teeth into.

Glass Jars of toothpaste – Many zero waste shops now stock variants on this, either in a powder, or as regular toothpaste in glass jars. The jars can then be reused or recycled.

Toothpaste tablets – These can often just be popped in your mouth and crunched up like a sweet and then continue to brush like normal for pearly white teeth.

Solid toothpaste – You can buy solid toothpaste either on a stick that you apply to your teeth, or as a bar, then brush as usual.

Make your own at home – many websites offer recipes for making your own toothpaste, often including baking soda and coconut oil.

“While you’re at it, why not invest in a bamboo toothbrush or recyclable heads for your electric toothbrush?” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesman Mark Hall.

But if making the change to a plastic-free alternative is a bit much, one toothpaste brand is going the extra mile to reduce the amount of plastic tubes heading to landfill.

Leading brand Colgate have launched plastic-free initiatives, including a new vegan friendly toothpaste that comes in recyclable packaging which is made from the same material as milk bottles.

Colgate have also become part of the Terracycle scheme, where you can take your empty toothpaste tubes and plastic brushes to collection points for specialised recycling, and they can be turned into new items such as park benches.

“As Colgate brush up the competition, one thing’s for sure,” says Hall, “we all need to step up and do our bit to reduce toothpaste tubes going to landfill.”

“Let’s stop filling the earth’s cavities with dental plastic waste.”

Is the Royal Mail the nation’s top litterer?

Delivering kerbside waste to a street near you

If you take a close look at the pavements up and down the UK, you might notice that they are littered with rubber bands – but where on earth are they coming from?

Unfortunately, the culprit is your local postie, as the Royal Mail use rubber bands to group letters together in their sorting offices ready for postal workers to deliver eagerly-awaited letters and unwanted junk mail in your letterbox.

UK based waste collection company BusinessWaste.co.uk say that the amount of rubber bands thrown on the ground around the UK is in the millions, which makes the Royal Mail one of the nation’s biggest litterers.

Company spokesman Mark Hall says, “Unfortunately, a lot of postal workers have got into the bad habit of flinging the rubber bands onto the pavement instead of collecting them and reusing them. That’s terrible for our environment.”

“Every street has a rubber band on it – have a look around and it won’t take you long to find one. They are worse than fast food litter.”

Pounding the pavement

With each postie doing the rounds six days a week delivering to every single street in the UK, BusinessWaste.co.uk have estimated how many elastic bands are being used by the Royal Mail each year.

A freedom of information request spills the beans that nearly 1 billion rubber bands are purchased by the company each year.

Only a proportion of this billion go out on rounds, and we have to assume that there are as many litter conscious postal workers as there are who drop rubber bands. So we reckon that as many as 250 million line our streets every single year.

Adam Bailey from rubbish removal company Divert.co.uk commented “Imagine how many more are being bought each year, especially as we have even more houses and entire estates that have been built – and more houses means more rubber bands for the postie”.

So just how bad are these elastic bands for the environment?

Rubber bands take up to 50 years to biodegrade and can be incredibly harmful to the environment. If burned they release carcinogenic pollution into the atmosphere.

And that’s not all because rubber bands can be dangerous for wildlife too, causing them to become tangled up and injured, or even eat them and die.

Birds have been seen to eat elastic bands and even feed them to their young, confusing them for worms on the pavement.

Hedgehogs are also at risk of injury, with reported cases of rubber bands becoming tangled and eventually embedded into their skin causing them severe pain and distress.

Hall: “We have to take a stand and stop the Royal Mail from littering our streets on a daily basis and causing so much harm to our wildlife.

“It’s time for them to do away with rubber bands and find an environmentally alternative.”

Return to sender

For some UK residents, the daily delivery of rubber bands on their streets has been as unwanted as the bills they receive through the letterbox.

One man from Merseyside spent 6 years collecting 10,000 elastic bands dropped by posties, and in 2018 made them all into a rubber band ball which he claimed was the same size as his head.

Mr Brown is calling for the Royal Mail to be fined for each rubber band he has found, which considering his local council fines £80 for dropped litter would cost them upwards of £800,000.

Business Waste spokesman Mark Hall agrees that companies such as the Royal Mail should be reprimanded for littering just as everyone else would be in accordance with fines set by local councils, in order to *ahem* curb the amount of bands they drop.

The Royal Mail do seem to be aware of the problem, and in a statement have said that they have switched to biodegradable bands and try to reuse as many as possible, but for Business Waste this isn’t enough to stop the harm being done to wildlife and the environment.

Hall: “Even the most conscientious postal worker will drop bands at some point, so why not completely do away with them altogether?”

“The Royal Mail need to be held accountable for the amount of rubber bands they are littering on our streets – so maybe if you find them on your road you should do them a favour and pop them into a post-box and send them back.”

To make recycling and disposing of waste easier, many manufacturers now include specific labels on their packaging. This means that whenever a consumer picks up a product, they know exactly what to do with it when they’re finished. In fact, there are several rules and regulations in place that mean these materials must be included in the packaging.

However, while some symbols are very clear in their instructions, others are used less frequently and may be a little harder to understand. That’s where this handy guide comes in!

Recycling Logos

mobius loop recycle logo

Mobius loop

What to do when you see the Mobius loop logo?

The triangle on its own means the product can be recycled. Typically, this means that the item can be disposed of with your general recycling. Sometimes, a variation of this logo exists with a percentage featured in the middle of the loop. This gives you an indication about how much of the product can be recycled.

What are examples of waste with the Mobius loop logo on?

As this is the most common logo displayed on recyclable products, you will likely come across it several times in a single day. This could include:

How much of this waste is produced?

We produce large volumes of recyclable waste on a daily basis. In the UK alone, we produce around 12 million tonnes of recycling waste each year – which is just under 50% of our overall waste output. However, too often recyclable waste finds its way into general waste collections, meaning it’s disposed of incorrectly. In fact, a recent report by National Geographic found that 91% of plastic waste is not sent to a recycling facility.

Recycle and Rinse symbol

What to do when you see the recycle and rinse symbol

This symbol means that the item can be recycled, but it must be rinsed/cleaned before you throw it away. This is often used on food packaging and reduces the chance of your waste being contaminated or attracting vermin.

What are examples of waste with the recycle and rinse symbol on?

There are various types of products that feature this symbol. This includes:

  • Glass jars (Food)
  • Metal (Cans, tins)
  • Plastic (Shampoo bottles, food containers)

How much of this waste is produced?

Failure to rinse products before recycling them could mean that your waste is classified as contaminated. This means it may be impossible to recycle. Around 15% of dry mixed recycling bins are contaminated in this manner, which significantly reduces the material that can be recycled.

Recycle, Rinse with Lid Cap on symbol

What to do when you see the recycle, rinse with lid cap on symbol

Products with this symbol can be recycled. However, you must ensure that they are rinsed and that their lid/cap is tightly secured. This is because small bottle caps can interfere with the recycling process. Furthermore, if they are thrown away in general waste, they could serve as a choking hazard.

What are examples of waste with the recycle, rinse with lid cap on symbol?

A variation of this symbol will appear on any products with small caps/lids. This could include:

How much of this waste is produced?

As this kind of waste mainly includes bottles and drinks containers, thousands upon thousands of them are thrown away every day. For example, in the UK alone, around 35 million plastic bottles are used every 24 hours- but the vast majority of them are not properly recycled.

Don’t Recycle and Remove Sleeve symbol

What to do when you see the don’t recycle and remove sleeve symbol

Unfortunately, not all packaging waste can be recycled. When you see this product, it may be that everything but the sleeve can be recycled – so ensure you take the time to remove it fully.

What are examples of waste with the don’t recycle and remove sleeve symbol on?

There are various products that feature this symbol. This includes:

How much of this waste is produced?

Product packaging, such as sleeves, are used to help promote brand and inform as to what the products we buy are made from – whether they be food items or commercial products. However, they are often difficult to recycle, and as a result, packaging waste is a key contributor to crowded landfills. In fact, plastic packaging makes up for 70% of the UK packaging waste.

Flatten with Cap on recycle symbol

What to do when you see the flatten with cap on recycling symbol

When this symbol is featured on a product, it means that before it is stored in the recycling bin you must flatten the item and ensure the cap is still on. This can help you maximise the space in your bins.

What are examples of waste with the flatten with cap on recycle symbol on?

Numerous products will feature this symbol. This could include:

  • Plastic Bottles
  • Milk Cartons
  • Fabric Softener containers

How much of this waste is produced?

Keeping the cap on your bottles when recycling reduces the chance of the lid getting lost during the recycling process. For example, sometimes, the lids will fall through holes in machinery. Taking the proper steps to recycle this kind of product can reduce the damage that single-use plastics have on the environment. Currently, less than 10% of single-use products are recycled – despite millions of them being used daily.

Recycle at a large supermarket and don’t recycle at home recycle symbol

What to do when you see the recycle at a large supermarket symbol

This symbol mainly relates to your household waste, and it means that the materials cannot be recycled through kerbside pick up. This is because the items may be slightly harder to recycle.

What are examples of waste with the recycle at a large supermarket with bags symbol on?

Various items can be recycled at your local supermarket. This includes:

How much of this waste is produced?

It is hard to monitor the amount of waste produced in this category, as it covers a wide range of products. However, since their implementation, supermarket recycling points have had a positive impact on the environment by ensuring products that would otherwise be thrown away are now taken to the appropriate treatment facilities.

the green dot recycle logo

The Green Dot recycle symbol

What to do when you see the green dot recycle symbol

Whenever a green dot appears on packaging, it means that the company that produces the product contributes money to recycling schemes. Though it appears to suggest that a product is recyclable, this is not always the case.

What are examples of waste with the green dot recycling symbol on?

This symbol features prominently on a variety of different products, namely in relation to packaging. This could include:

  • Food Packaging
  • Drink Packaging

How much of this waste is produced?

A large proportion of the waste we produce is non-recyclable. For example, in 2018 the UK produced around 37 million tonnes of waste, of which a very small fraction was sent to the appropriate recycling centres. Failing to source recyclable products, or disposing of them correctly, has an increasingly negative impact upon the environment.

How can you reduce the amount of recyclable waste you produce?

There are various steps you can take to reduce the amount of waste you produce – both within your business and household.

Perhaps the most important step you can take to achieve this goal is to quite simply educate yourself. Before purchasing a product, do your research so that you know about the potential implications it can have on the environment.

Following this, you need to be prepared to implement real change. For example, you can change the way in which you shop. The most straightforward way to reduce this kind of waste is by making smarter, more environmentally friendly decisions when it comes to sourcing products and materials for your company or your home. For example, this could mean that you stop purchasing single use plastics in favor of materials that last longer and don’t need to be disposed of right away. In addition, you should also ensure that you buy the right amount of materials and supplies you need – so that nothing is going to waste.

You can also reduce the amount of waste you produce as a business by reusing or repurposing materials as much as possible. Put together a company recycling policy – and ensure that employees stick to it. Finally, you can reduce the amount of waste you use or dispose of incorrectly by working with a licensed waste disposal company – who can ensure that all waste is safely and securely disposed of.

Plastic Resin Recycle Codes

There are several different types of plastic, and some facilities will require the plastic to be separated prior to collection. This is due to the fact that each type of plastic will need to be disposed of in a slightly different way.

PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate) recycle logo

Code 1: PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

PETE plastic (or PET). is the most widely used form of plastic. In fact, around 70% of all plastic bottles and containers in the United Kingdom are made from PETE. Thankfully, it is widely recycled.

Learn about PET recycling

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) recycle logo

Code 2: HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

HDPE was typically used by those who work within the construction industry, as it was used to manufacture pipes. However, it is now also used to create containers such as milk cartons and cleaning product bottles. It is widely recycled.

Learn about HDPE recycling

PVC (High-Density Polyethylene) recycle logo

Code 3: PVC (High-Density Polyethylene)

PVC, like HDPE, is typically used within the construction industry – to create products such as door and window frames. It is widely recycled.

Learn about PVC recycling