Can the UK handle business waste?

It has become vital for businesses to have an effective waste management strategy in place to ensure that they perform their duty of care within the industry they find themselves operating in. Here, we look to find out what different businesses in different industries do to get rid of their waste and how much it is costing them as a whole in the UK.
Source: Reconomy

External costs is one thing that eager entrepreneurs want to reduce when it comes to managing a business — and this is achievable. One way to reduce unnecessary costs is to have your waste effectively managed. This means working with a waste management company that can draw up a profile of your business and calculate the amount of waste your company generates. It also creates a more reliable and bespoke collection routine that better meets your business needs.

Which sectors are producing the most waste here in the UK?
30 million tonnes of waste was produced by the commercial and industrial sector here in the UK during 2014. 19.8 million tonnes from this was from England alone with 11.1 million tonnes coming from the commercial sector and 8.7 from the industrial. When looking to the UK entirely, we can see that the commercial sector produced 15.1 million tonnes and the industrial produced 12.6 million tonnes.

The same year found that organisations working in construction and demolition produced 120.4 million tonnes, showing a 10.6% increase on 2012. This sector generated over 60% of the UKs total waste.

There was a 9% increase in 2014 where those working in agriculture produced more waste in the UK. In 2012, we saw 24.7 million tonnes of waste and then in 2016, 26.9 million tonnes.

In the UK during 2014, more waste was produced as there was a 4.6% increase on 2012 — with a total of 202.8 million tonnes of waste that year.

Restaurants and pubs: how much waste?
A study conducted by Wrap found that food waste here in the UK costs a total of £628m per year — that works out to £3,500 per tonne. In relation to restaurants in the UK, we can see that 51% of waste is recycled, 65% of it being packaging.

When analysing restaurants independently, those in the UK produced a total of 915,400 tonnes — of which 199,000 was food waste.

873,000 tonnes of waste is generated by pubs solely and 173,000 of it is accounted for by food waste! We found out that 63% of this waste is recycled. The average pub can see a cost of £8,000 per year to get rid of food waste from their premises.

Hotels: how much waste?
From research carried out, it has been reported that food waste costs hoteliers around £318m — equating to £4,000 per tonne. This sector produces around 289,700 tonnes of waste each year which 79,000 tonnes of it is food waste.

Healthcare: how much waste?
According to the same source, only 7% of the waste generated in the healthcare sector is recycled. Food waste costs the healthcare sector £230 million each year – £1,900 per tonne. Every year, the healthcare sector generates 170,300 tonnes of waste which a large 121,000 tonnes of it belongs to food waste.

Top tips and tricks for businesses battling waste:
We’ve teamed up with Reconomy, which offers a range of different skip sizes across the UK, to bring you the top tips and tricks for calculating the amount of food waste you produce: Begin by distributing your waste into different sections. From this, you will have an insight to how much waste of different products you are producing. Use three different bins to collect this data, waste for food preparation, spoilage and then the leftovers from your customers plates. Use the data you have collected and multiply this figure by the amount it costs per tonne and this will tell you how much it is costing your business each year.

But where does food waste come from? We take a look at the most common areas below:

  • Food preparation – 45%.
  • Spoilage – 21%.
  • Customer plates – 34%.

If you’re a business that is looking to lower the amount of food waste you are producing, there are a few techniques you can use. One problem that restaurants and cafes often shy away from addressing is the size of their menu; the bigger the menu, the more ingredients you buy – and the more that can be wasted. Take a step in the right direction by looking at your customer patterns – what are they ordering? From this, you will be able to remove the dishes that do not add value to your menu.

Another reason as to why you are producing so much waste could be due to the portion sizes. Reducing the size of your meals even slightly is a simple step to take that could help reduce costs for your business.

Purchase food ingredients that meet your needs — if you buy items that you don’t end up using, this will then go to waste. Don’t get sucked in by your supplier’s special offers—it’s only a good deal if you’ll actually use the produce. If not, it will end up going in the bin – costing your business more money in the long run. Buy long-lasting ingredients that are vital in your kitchen such as spices, and buy fresh food only as you need.

If you’re looking to better your company’s ethics, why not try donating food that you don’t use to homeless shelters? You could even donate leftovers to a local farm to feed their animals if appropriate. Both of these could be beneficial to you as a business as you will be reducing waste whilst helping the environment.

Where does the British government stand on this hard-hitting issue?
The UK has a goal to become a country that produces zero waste — allowing materials to be used to their full potential. This means we will have to be harder on how much we reduce, reuse and recycle and only ever throw things away as a last resort.

As a business, you automatically have a legislative responsibility to have a working waste management strategy in order. This includes keeping their waste to a minimum. They are also obliged to sort their waste out in the appropriate way and then store it correctly for when it leaves your businesses building. When this happens, you must complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that is removed from your location. Make sure that your chosen waste carrier is registered to dispose waste and if they are not, first and foremost you shouldn’t use them. You then have a duty to report them to Crimestoppers as they will be dispose of your waste illegally and this can be damaging to the environment.

By following the above advice, the UK can take a step in the right direction to achieve the goal they have to become a zero-waste economy.


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