Six ways SMEs can increase recycling rates

If you feel you’re falling behind when it comes to business recycling, you’re not alone. A recent study found half of small businesses do not have access to the most basic recycling facilities, with many not knowing where to start. However, recycling is vital to running a sustainable business as it reduces the use of raw materials, helping to cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

Here are six ways to help you boost your business’ recycling rates and reduce your environmental impact.

Get employees on board

Whether you’ve just implemented a recycling scheme or have had one in place for some time, make sure your employees are aware of your business recycling goals. Engage employees with regular communications to explain why the recycling scheme is important, what they need to do to help you reach your targets and the progress being made. Encourage collaboration from across the business by giving all employees an opportunity to share feedback on what’s working and ideas to optimise current recycling processes.

Clear labelling in recycling areas

With businesses producing so many different types of waste, understanding which items are and aren’t recyclable can be confusing. To prevent recyclable items from ending up in general waste, or vice versa, provide clear signage of what materials can go into each bin. Your customers, visitors or employees should be able to see, at a glance, which bin their waste should go into. Clear labelling will help to reduce contamination from mixing waste streams and increase your overall recycling rate.

Dedicated recycling stations

For your scheme to be successful, recycling needs to be made as convenient as possible. Take an audit of where your bins are positioned at the moment and consider creating a dedicated recycling station in high traffic areas. For example, you could place a plastic recycling bin in the canteen, or paper recycling bin near to a printer. It’s important to also keep general waste bins in busy areas where needed, to prevent contamination from people throwing general waste in with recycling.

Collect food waste separately

Aside from the fact that separate food waste collections for businesses in England will become a legal requirement, segregating food waste from general waste has a significant positive environmental impact. When food waste is mixed with general waste, it could end up in landfill, where it can release harmful greenhouse gases such as methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. However, food waste collected separately often goes to an anaerobic digestion facility, where the waste is processed to ultimately generate heat and electricity.

Segregating food waste from general waste is not only better for the environment but could also save you money. Food waste can be heavy, and with many waste management companies charging by weight, this could be adding unnecessary costs to your waste management bills.

Procure recyclable items

Assess your supply chain and choose products which can be recycled or have been made from recyclable materials. For instance, products made from paper, card, glass, and aluminium are easily recycled, as are uniforms and other textiles. Some businesses may have to take action soon with further new legislation set to come into effect later this year, banning single-use plastics including plastic plates, trays, bowls and cutlery.

Conduct a waste audit

A waste management audit provides you with a full picture of your current waste management processes and areas for improvement. What type of waste does your business generate? What volume of each type of waste? Where are the opportunities to increase efficiency?

With a waste audit, you’ll be able to establish where waste can be minimised and also how you can increase your recycling rates. If you’re not sure where to start, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK can provide a free waste management audit.

We’d love to hear from you, what tips do you have to recycle more around your business?