Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
World Recycling day aims to raise awareness of the importance of recycling, which is crucial for improving reducing waste and reaching the nationally legislated goal of net zero by 2050.
With COP 26 being hosted in November, there is likely to be more focus on improving waste management across the UK. Therefore, this blog gives examples of Chamber member activity on waste and resources, and introduces businesses to how they can start improving their waste management. Furthermore, some regional and national support available is detailed at the end.
Background and policy overview
Improving waste and resource efficiency could create over 200,000 jobs and add £75 billion to the UK economy. As a consequence, the UK Government has targeted the elimination of avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042 and achieving zero avoidable waste by 2050. This is supported by the upcoming 2022 Plastic Packaging Tax, effective from April 2022.
What businesses are doing
Every month more companies are starting to realise the benefits that come with reducing waste, which include better business and investment opportunities as well as meeting legal and compliance obligations.
Many businesses are taking action by reducing their plastic, paper and metal usage but also increasing reuse and recycling. Some examples across the Chamber network include:
The waste hierarchy
If you’d like to join companies across the Chamber network on improving your waste management and don’t know where to start, the waste hierarchy provides a good framework for businesses to use, see below. This shows the preferred steps for intervening in the waste management process.
What can businesses do to improve their recycling and waste management?
First, understand where your waste is coming from. This can be achieved through speaking with employees and taking time to identify how and why waste is generated in business processes. From here, understand the waste cycles in your business, this includes where you purchase the material, the processes it is used in to when it is disposed.
Once you’ve mapped this process, use the waste hierarchy to explore what methods can be implemented to reduce the waste, this requires communicating with your employees (across different departments) and suppliers. You may recognise preventative measures, such as reducing printing paper or you may find ways to reuse and pallets in your delivery process.
The waste type must be categorised and managed appropriately. For example, many businesses dispose of their waste by skip (general waste), which may comprise of recyclable materials (i.e. aluminium, cardboard, plastic). Identifying recyclable waste, and then implementing separate system to sort recyclable materials can lead to lower costs (reduced landfill tax and waste collection costs), bring in revenue (through selling recyclable material) and improve your compliance.
Throughout the process communicate with your waste management company, as they can advise on the best steps to take to achieve your goals. It will also help identify what is technologically, economically and environmentally practical to achieve with your business waste. Otherwise the WRAP website has plenty of guidance for waste management, see here.
Finally, implement a formal plan, document the process and keep records, set goals and showcase your success, such as progress to a zero waste to landfill target. This shows stakeholders (suppliers, customers, competitors) how your business is taking action on improving environmental performance.
What support is available?
If you’d like to do more with your waste and resource management, there is support available regionally and nationally, see below.
What is the Chamber doing?
Waste management and the net zero transition presents a range of opportunities and challenges for businesses. Given the wide ranging difficulties businesses are currently facing, environmental action may be taken at different speeds. Nonetheless, the Chamber will support businesses with relevant guidance, best practice and advice through our network. One example of this is our ‘Net Zero and the Business Community Briefing Paper’.
See our ‘Net Zero and the Business Community Briefing Paper’ here.