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Waste Awareness Part 2 – Waste Hierarchy

Waste is expensive to manage. Businesses that minimise the amount of waste they produce save costs and become more competitive. To implement a successful waste minimisation stratergy in your business, you need to know about the waste hierarchy.

Waste Hierarchy

A picture of the waste hierarchy

The waste hierarchy identifies how businesses can deal with their waste. Disposal is the most common option for businesses in the UK. As the rise of taxes and the cost of waste disposal increases, however, businesses need to consider other options.

Businesses can start assessing their waste disposal process by carrying out a waste audit. This enables them to determine whether they need to work on the prevention or reduction of waste.

1. Prevention/Reduction

Waste reduction requires businesses to review their processes and the waste they produce. This includes a review of the products or services they offer and how they are produced.

Waste reduction includes:

  • Prevention/reduction of waste generated;
  • efficient use of raw materials; and
  • process analysis.

Waste reduction also includes pollution prevention, resource efficiency, clean production and clean technology. Waste typically costs business 4/5% of their turnover. For most businesses they can reduce at least 1% of these costs through waste reduction.

2. Reuse

A reuse logo part of the waste hierarchyAn office can generate savings through using refillable ink cartridges and using the back of a single sided copies as office scrap paper.

In an industrial setting a waste audit must identify all inputs and waste produced in the manufacturing process. Establishing how they impact on each other will determine how items can be reused. By closely examining inputs it will be possible to link processes and reduce waste.

The 2002/2003 Commercial and Industrial Waste Production Survey by the Environment Agency identified that 44% of industrial and commercial wastes are being reused or recycled in England and Wales. There are also an increasing number of waste clubs or waste directories for businesses. They  enable businesses to exchange packaging or other materials between themselves to prevent materials entering the waste stream.

3. Recycle

Recycling enables waste materials to be used again after they have been put through aa picture of the recycle logo as part of the waste hierachy process. As a result, recycling prevents the use of virgin, mostly limited, raw materials. The market for recycled material is growing all the time. New markets and re-processors are being established to accept materials and convert them to second and further uses.

Waste materials are more effectively recycled if they’re segregated and clean. The segregation of raw materials is best carried out as near as possible to the point of production. This is an important rule when setting up a system for recycling.

The most common materials suitable for recycling are paper, metals, plastics, inert waste, oils, glass and wood.

4. Recovery

Where materials cannot be re-used or recycled, the final option before disposal is to recover energy from the material via thermal treatment. This is done by burning the material alone or combining it with existing fuels to reduce the fossil fuel input.

Energy recovery from waste is the least favourable method of waste minimisation in environmental terms. It does, however, enable at least some value to be recovered from the waste. This option is becoming increasingly important for waste management and the production of energy. Technology enables clean and efficient energy recovery with minimal environmental impact as well as diverting waste from landfill.

Reducing or preventing waste created by your business will have a significant impact on its bottom line. It will also have a wider positive effect on the environment.

If you have any questions about effective waste reduction and waste management for your office, call The Organised Cleaning Company on 020 7458 4433 and talk to one of our team today!

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About The Author

Matt Harris

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