Waste management and disposal:
A best practice business guide
FCC Environment have produced this guide to help you manage your business waste more effectively, understand what waste you are producing and how best to reduce it, monitor it and dispose of it in the most sustainable and cost-effective way possible.
This 4-stage guide is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of a professional approach to business waste management.
Your guide to waste
Know your waste
Know your legal
Apply the Waste Hierarchy
Measure, Manage and Reduce
Waste isn’t just about what is thrown into a rubbish bin under a desk or at home. 290 million tonnes of waste a year is generated in the UK, and in 2010/2011 50% of this waste went to landfill. The EU Landfill Directive has an aim to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill as much as possible, thereby reducing the negative environmental impacts to soil, groundwater, air and surface water.
The cost of waste is another factor, with most companies unaware of how much waste is costing them. It is not just the disposal costs that should be taken into account, there are also costs for raw materials that have been wasted, energy and labour, costing as much as 4% of your turnover. With the EU Landfill Directive increasing the cost of sending waste to landfill year-on-year from £64/tonne in 2012 to £72/
tonne in April 2013, the way we think about the disposal of waste needs to change. In 2012, Landfill tax collected was £1.1bn, a great deal of which could be avoided through rigorous waste management practices.
Why is it important to manage waste?
Firstly you need to understand what types of waste you produce.
It can come in many forms such as:
Know your waste
waste Paper and
cardboard Plastics Glass
Metals WEEE Hazardous
and clinical Food
You may have only a few of these waste
streams or most of them, depending on the size and type of your business. However there are a few simple steps you can take to identify what your waste is and how it is being disposed of around the site.
Stage 1: Know your waste
Brainstorm each area of the business
• List the types of materials being disposed of in each area
Where are they currently being disposed of?
• Are there separate bins for recycling?
• What is happening to any food waste?
• Is there a contingency for electrical items?
Create flow charts and maps of current processes to help you identify gaps (if any) in your processes
CLICK HERE for more information
This should enable you to have a clear picture of how your waste is being managed and where you can start to make improvements.
For example, are recycling materials going into the general waste bins – see figure 1
The non-recyclable material
* Residual is any material that DOES NOT fall into the following…
• Paper and cardboard
• Plastic films
• Plastic bottles
• Steel and aluminium cans
• Food or kitchen waste
Contents of an average bin
Kitchen waste, polystyrene, etc…
Wood Glass D.M.R.
Paper, cardboard, plastics, cans, shrink wrap, newspapers
Stage 1: Know your waste
Removing your recycling from your general waste bin will ensure you see an
immediate saving in your waste disposal costs.
Good Practice starts before recycling:
introducing the Waste Hierarchy
As waste has become more and more of a problem, and non-renewable resources become harder to justify, a new model – based upon the EU Waste Framework Directive [2008/98/EC] – has emerged to improve the approach businesses take to waste. The
nearer the top of this hierarchy, the better your resource efficiency.
Apply the Waste
The Waste Hierarchy
for reuse Recycling
In the first instance, more careful procurement helps to prevent the creation of waste.
Applying the waste hierarchy when you transfer waste, and adhering to the Duty of Care will help to improve your environmental profile and make best use of the waste
you create. A credible waste management company should support you with this and provide management reports to allow you to monitor and create positive action.
Recycling and Recovery
A credible waste management company will further refine your waste to prevent as much material being landfilled, reducing your costs and in some instances generating electricity and hot water.
Recycling viable materials
Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs) are used to sort waste into specific categories, to bale it and send it on to approved suppliers to be made into new, recycled materials depending on whether the sorted waste is plastic, metal, materials or paper among others.
Stage 2: Apply the Waste Hierarchy
Composting green waste
Using the latest technology enables waste management companies to extract the
maximum value from collected and processed compostable waste. Compost plants use
different methods for different materials, resulting in a range of products that can be used to restore landfill sites, manufacture top quality compost for the retail sector or for local authority partners.
Waste is shredded and heaped into long windrows, with the composting process taking up to 10 weeks.
A pod holds around 150 tonnes of material and is fed a controlled air supply from external fans to maintain composting conditions.
Kitchen waste has to be composted in an enclosed environment. Systems that compost in this way include vertical units, housed windrows, clamps and tunnels.
Stage 2: Apply the Waste Hierarchy
Stage 2: Apply the Waste Hierarchy
to view FCC’s interactive energy from waste presentation
Much of today’s thinking is based on generating green energy and the best ways to achieve this include:
• Energy for waste plants that generate electricity or heat
• Generating power via an alternative fuel using energy crops
• Using wind to generate wind energy with wind farms
Waste disposal legislation
According to DEFRA, the UK generates around 290 million tonnes of waste a year. Because this is unsustainable, the government continues to put measures in place that support reductions in this figure.
From perspectives including financial,
operational and reputational, the legislation is involved and wide-ranging, the ultimate aim being to move towards a zero waste economy.
There are different laws and requirements for waste that can go to landfill, for the treatment of hazardous waste, for liquid and soil treatment and for clinical waste.
Guidance and interventions are available from statutory and industry bodies to make it easier for businesses like yours both to achieve compliance, and to take the practical steps necessary in reducing the production of waste.
See our guide to ‘Useful websites, papers and other resources’ at the end of this document.
Many businesses have taken up the challenge, and have taken steps to reduce their waste and recycle more. Where others struggle, government and stakeholders provide all the support and advice needed to implement as many measures as possible, and to provide appropriate services and products.
These range from the things you’d expect, such as access to a wide choice of bin and container sizes, to the things you wouldn’t necessarily think of first, like planning for waste collection trucks to take the most efficient routes when they’re out and about.
Duty of Careis a legal responsibility that outlines the need to take all reasonable steps to keep waste safe and to prevent it causing pollution or harming anyone. You are also required to ensure that anyone authorised to take it away can transport, recycle or dispose of it safely. Every responsible business owner needs to be aware of relevant legislation and compliance.
Stage 3: Know your legal responsibilities
CLICK HERE to download the Duty of Care
Waste disposal and
added operational value
The actual cost of waste is more than just the cost of the materials you discard and don’t use.
It takes in the inefficient use of raw materials, the unnecessary use of energy, water and man hours. A figure that is, on average, around 4–5%
of turnover can in reality be as high as 10%.
The Envirowise publication Measuring to manage: the key to reducing waste costs, outlines six practical steps you can take to reduce the costs involved in waste management and disposal.
A focused approach to managing your waste output will begin by identifying both the types and amount of waste you are producing as a business, and cross-referencing these with the relevant legislative requirements. This can only really be achieved by making an inspection of your site and by finding out who is responsible for each waste management process and where the waste goes.
Ideally, you will then be in a position to talk to an objective third-party about a waste management and disposal strategy that begins to add business value rather than taking costs from your bottom line. Once you have a plan and appropriate partners in place, you’ll start to see the benefits to your business, your people and the wider environment, reducing costs and enhancing your brand reputation.
A waste management strategy will incorporate the flexibility to accommodate changes in legislation, raw materials, price differentials and customer demand. To achieve stakeholder buy-in at the outset, your strategy will need to demonstrate:
• How it is going to save money by reducing material use and waste generation
• How it achieves compliance with all relevant legislation
• Improve management of materials and waste
• Compliance with Duty of Care
Clearly there are many variables to consider, including the size and nature of your business, statutory and local authority guidelines, and the facilities and partners available in your region.
Asking for advice is the first step in a
process that will improve your sustainability credentials, your bottom line and your customers’ assessment of your business products, services and goals. Support agencies including Envirowise, NetRegs, DEFRA and many others have invested
significantly in resources that you can access that answer questions focused on your
Stage 4: Measure, Manage and Reduce
Accounting for waste
The initial step is to identify how much waste your company is generating and the costs involved.
• Undertake a simple walk around waste audit – looking at each key area and identifying what wastes exist
• Examine your utility and other receipts to estimate the costs of waste
• FCC Environment offer a free waste audit, call 0844 736 9990 to book yours
Comparing your performance
Use industry guides (such as the Benchmarking guides from Envirowise), trade association guidance and good practice examples to compare your performance with others in your sector. Look at the environmental reports published by others in your sector (many are online at www.corporateregister.com).
Identify waste minimisation opportunities
Walk around the site looking for areas where waste is being generated and talk to key personnel, especially those who operate each stage of the process. From this practical information, develop a high level plan of ideas to take to senior management.
The six steps to reducing waste costs (Envirowise GG414)
Stage 4: Measure, Manage and Reduce
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
Commitment to action
When you have made your high level plan, you are ready to present your case to senior management. Convince them of the potential cost benefits of reducing waste and obtain their commitment to providing the necessary resources for implementing a waste minimisation action plan. Start building a team and holding brainstorming sessions with staff to generate ideas for ways to improve performance and competitiveness.
Taking action to reduce waste
Take your high level plan and turn it into an action plan. Start by identifying obvious areas of waste reduction where immediate and substantial savings can be achieved by implementing no-cost and low-cost measures.
Also look for sector specific guides on particular themes, e.g. water, packaging, solvents, or specific concerns of your industry.
Use meters to obtain accurate data and ensure that they are checked regularly. Implement good housekeeping measures, including a checklist, for every area.
Recognising success and maintaining momentum
Return to your original assessment and
consider your achievements. Feed these back to staff and senior management. You now have the basis for continuous improvement and can review your progress at regular intervals.
CLICK HERE to view the supporting documentation
Stage 4: Measure, Manage and Reduce
Step 4 Step 5 Step 6
principles into practice
Like all things, acknowledging that there might be a different way of doing things is the first step. With the right support, and from financial, operational and environmental perspectives, an effective waste management strategy will more than repay the investment of time and effort you put into it. An appropriate strategy will incorporate the flexibility to accommodate changes in legislation, raw materials, price differentials and customer expectations.
You’ll be able to demonstrate to the
stakeholders that your waste management strategy will:
• Save money by reducing material use and waste generation
• Meet compliance with all relevant legislation
• Improve your management of materials and waste, and takes in duty of care requirements
An annual waste audit will help you to report back on achievements and keep track of your waste management successes.
Waste stream management the FCC
An effective waste management and disposal strategy will incorporate measures to deal with every type of waste your business will generate, whatever the industry sector.
At FCC Environment, we use the latest
technology, and operate a range of specialist facilities to handle many types of waste. These facilities include: Material Recycling Facilities, Energy from Waste plants, Composting Centres, Biological Waste Treatment units and our Hazardous and Clinical Waste Treatment plants. As well as scheduled collections, we offer a comprehensive range of waste services designed to save your business time and money in the long run.
Unlike many of our big competitors, our teams and facilities are based locally, so we’re always on hand to help. You’ll never find us using national call centres.
The information we’ve provided here can be seen as a guideline for action. To put a more formal plan together call us for a FREE waste audit on 0844 736 9992, we’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.
FAQsHow can I recycle more?
The first step is to know your waste, once you understand what waste you produce then you can separate the recyclable materials. You may also have an unusual waste stream that currently goes to landfill, but may be of use to other companies in their processes. A good quality waste management company will be able to assist you in exploring all of your options.
What happens to my waste once it is collected?
With good quality waste management companies waste no longer goes direct to landfill. Once your waste is collected it will be sent to a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) to further recover materials. Any materials that are not able to be recovered through this process are converted into fuel for energy from waste facilities. As a final resort once the
How can I reduce my costs?
The most effective way to reduce your costs is to recycle more and reduce the amount of waste that you put into the general waste bin. Once you understand the waste that you produce you can start to ensure rigorous segregation, through staff education and continuously monitoring the waste you produce.
What is a Duty of Care, how long do I need to keep it?
A Duty of Care document is a legal
responsibility that outlines the need to take all reasonable steps to keep waste safe and to prevent it causing pollution or harming anyone. You are also required to ensure that anyone authorised to take it away can transport, recycle or dispose of it safely.
Every responsible business owner needs to be aware of relevant legislation and compliance.
What do all the acronyms mean?
As with all industries there is a great deal of acronyms. FCC Environment have produced a handy guide to all of the most common acronyms used within the waste industry.
CLICK HERE to download it now
How much is Landfill tax?
Landfill tax is currently £72 per tonne, it rose on 5th April 2013 from £64 per tonne and following the landfill tax escalator the tax is set to rise to
£80 per tonne in April 2014. The government is currently in consultation about any future rises beyond these outlined.
What is the Waste Hierarchy?
The Waste Hierarchy is a framework created to analyse your waste streams and provides a number of filters which you can apply to reduce your waste:
• Prevention: changing a manufacturing process or product design to remove that waste stream completely
• Preparing for Re-use: internally treating the waste e.g. cleaning for internal re-use or use by another party
• Recycling: taking the disposed material and converting it back into a raw material
• Other Recovery: using the calorific value of the waste to generate energy in Energy from Waste Plants
• Disposal (using a legally compliant
contractor): some materials currently cannot be processed by any of the methods above (e.g. hazardous waste) and so disposal is the only method available
What is a Waste Audit?
A waste audit provides an understanding of the waste arising from every element of your business operation. It should take the form of review of all business processes and understand (by business area): the waste type, the volume and the final bin location.
The output should be a report that allows the business to understand the waste created and take action to reuse, reduce and recycle prior to any collection.
What can I put in the recycling bin?
Most waste management companies define recyclables as plastic bottles, plastic films, newspapers, cardboard, paper, steel and aluminium cans. These can be segregated upon collection through materials
Why should I recycle?
There are many reasons why recycling is beneficial from a global sustainability perspective, but for you as a business there are strong economic reasons for recycling.
Due to the recycled value of many materials waste companies are able to offset some of their costs of collection against revenue generated by selling the recyclable material, meaning that a bin of recyclable material is considerably cheaper than a general waste bin. If you can improve your internal recycling through reuse then your overall cost of raw materials will reduce.
How do I switch suppliers?
First you will have to understand who your current supplier is and your contractual position, with respect to notice periods, is with them. Once you have this information you will be able to engage with a new supplier and organise for a waste audit and then discuss the new pricing structure.
What are EWC?
European Waste Code provides a standard description of each waste stream allowing the whole industry to understand the specific waste arising from your operation and determine relevant processing solutions.
Did you know?
Glass is 100%
recyclable and can be endlessly recycled
with no loss in quality On average,
every family in the UK uses 330 glass bottle
and jars each year
Carpets can be recycled into equestrian surfaces
for race tracks and training areas
Cooking oil from home can be used to generate electricity and sold back
to the National Grid to power homes
The energy saving from recycling one glass bottle will power a 100
watt light bulb for almost an hour
It takes just 25 two litre pop bottles to make one adult size
energy is required to recycle paper
compared with making it from raw
What to do now
Complete an audit of the waste that you produce
Check your current methods of disposal Understand if employees are carrying out
Have you understood the waste hierarchy?
Begin to implement the waste hierarchy for your business and ensure employees are aware of it
Understand how the waste hierarchy will help your company’s environmental profile
Check you understand your legal responsibilities
Are you familiar with the basics of waste legislation?
Make sure your business is aware of the
‘Duty of Care’
Identify ways of improving your waste disposal methods
Begin to put together a waste management strategy
Understand how much money your waste management strategy will save your business
Ensure all employees are aware of your new waste management strategy
Check that employees have got involved and feel part of the process
Find out if you need to implement any training sessions
Remember to manage your waste strategy on a regular basis and recognise where improvements and savings can be made
The following resources are available if you require further information on reducing your waste costs:
WRAP – Applying the Waste Hierarchy
Zero Waste Scotland – Measuring to Manage Resources & Waste
WRAP – Finding Cost Savings: Resource Efficiency for SMEs
Find out more at