Commercial waste disposal

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Waste disposal for businesses

While commercial waste collection is a familiar concept, delving into commercial waste disposal unveils a crucial and often overlooked phase in waste management. Beyond gathering waste, commercial waste disposal is the subsequent step in the process involving processing, treatment, recycling, or responsible disposal.

Contents

The different ways to dispose of commercial waste

Explore the different ways that commercial waste is disposed of at UK waste facilities.

Composting

Composting

The types of waste that can be composted generally originate from the food and beverage sector and include fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and filters, eggshells, tea bags (if made from compostable material), shredded newspaper, kitchen paper towels, and various types of bread and grains (provided they are not contaminated with oils or dairy products).

Composting converts organic waste into compost, which is used in agriculture to improve the biological properties of soil. Check out our guide to commercial food waste for details on how the industrial composting process works.

Recycling

Recycling

 

Commercial recycling can be categorised into many sections; we delve into more detail in our Commercial Recycling guide. The waste items include paper, cardboard, plastics, metals, glass, and printer cartridges.

In most circumstances, you should sort your recycling yourself before it is collected. At the recycling centre, the materials undergo a further sorting process using human interventions or machines such as conveyor belts, screens, and magnets to separate the materials.

The materials subsequently go through a cleaning process. Paper and cardboard are often pulped and cleaned of contaminants, and metals are melted.

Then, depending on the type of material recycled, they undergo reprocessing. Paper and cardboard are usually processed into new paper, glass is melted and reshaped, and plastics are melted and remoulded into new products.

Landfill

Landfill

 

Although the UK is making concerted efforts to recycle as many products as possible, certain items inevitably find their way to landfills. These waste items include non-recyclable plastics, mixed and contaminated materials, single-use items, coated paper and cardboard, low-grade materials, and composite materials made of multiple components that are challenging to separate.

Once collected, the waste is sorted to ensure nothing can be recycled. Although not as comprehensive as recycling, this sorting process is conducted before the waste is transported to the landfill.

Landfills are meticulously maintained and carefully managed to capture the gases emitted as waste decomposes.

Incineration

Incineration

 

Incineration is used as an alternative to landfills that extract energy from non-recyclable plastics, food waste contaminated or hazardous waste, medical waste, textiles and treated wood.

Once the waste is collected, it will undergo pre-processing, which will include removing any items that could be recycled. The waste is then fed into incineration chambers, reaching 800 – 1,200 degrees Celsius. This heat causes the waste to combust and turn to ash.

Anaerobic digestion

Anaerobic digestion

 

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process used in commercial waste disposal to treat organic waste. It involves the breakdown of biodegradable materials by microorganisms without oxygen. This process produces biogas, primarily methane, and a nutrient-rich byproduct known as digestate.

The types of waste that can be used in anaerobic digestion are food waste, agricultural residues, wastewater treatment sludge, garden waste and paper pulp.

After collection, the organic waste may undergo a pre-treatment, including shredding and grinding, to facilitate microbial breakdown. It is then loaded into digesters, which are sealed oxygen-free; the microorganisms break down the matter in the absence of oxygen, producing biogas and digestate.

Biogas is used to produce energy that is passed onto the natural grid, and the digestate, which is rich in nutrients, is then used on agricultural land to enhance soil.

Storing commercial waste before disposal

General Waste

General Waste

Use sturdy bins or containers with secure lids for general waste to prevent spillage and control odours. Ensure proper labelling for easy identification.

Recycling Waste

Recycling Waste

Separate recyclable materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic, and glass. Provide marked recycling bins or containers for each type of recyclable waste to facilitate proper sorting.

Food Waste

Food Waste

Businesses should have dedicated food waste bins at places where it is likely to be produced, like staff kitchens, to maximise food waste collection. Businesses disposing of raw meat require separate storage and disposal.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous Waste

Handle hazardous waste with utmost care. Store it in designated containers that meet safety standards. Clearly label hazardous waste storage areas and ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

Confidential

Confidential

You should always shred your confidential waste before storage. This will add an additional level of security. Confidential bins should always be locked before collection.

Glass

Glass

In most regions, glass recycling should be collected and stored separately from dry mixed recycling. Store these in a specific glass bin for collection by your commercial waste disposal provider.

What is the cost of commercial waste disposal?

The costs of commercial waste disposal can vary based on several factors, including:

Type of Waste: Different types of waste, such as general waste, recycling, hazardous waste, or specialised waste, have varying disposal costs.
Volume and Weight: The size and number of commercial waste bins your business has (and the number of bags they will typically contain at each collection) will impact your disposal cost.
Frequency of Collection: Regular and frequent waste collections may have different pricing structures than one-time or infrequent pickups.
Location: The geographic location of your business can impact costs due to variations in disposal facility availability, transportation expenses, and local regulations.
Environmental Fees and Regulations: Compliance with environmental regulations and landfill taxes may affect the overall cost of waste disposal.
Recycling Programs: Participation in recycling programs may influence costs, and some waste management services offer reduced rates for businesses actively engaged in recycling.

Companies can analyse and reduce their commercial waste disposal costs by conducting a business waste audit.

Do waste disposal costs vary by region in the UK?

Yes, commercial waste disposal varies by region for several reasons:

Infrastructure and Facilities: The availability and quality of waste disposal facilities. Some areas may have more advanced or efficient facilities, leading to lower disposal costs, while others may rely on older or less efficient infrastructure.
Transportation Costs: The distance between your location and the waste disposal facility influences transportation costs. Remote or rural areas may incur higher transportation expenses, increasing overall disposal costs.
Local Regulations: Each devolved nation and even local councils may have environmental regulations and waste management policies. Compliance with these regulations may involve additional costs for waste management companies, which can be reflected in disposal fees.
Local Recycling Initiatives: Regions that actively promote and invest in recycling initiatives may offer lower disposal costs for recyclable materials, as these materials can be processed and reused more efficiently.

Are there any government regulations or taxes that impact the cost of commercial waste disposal?

The government charges a tax on general waste disposed of by landfill that your provider will incur. The disposal of waste is also highly regulated. Your waste provider must maintain a registered waste carrier license and environmental permits at each of their waste disposal facilities.

Commercial waste disposal for different sectors

Food and Beverage Sector

Food and Beverage Sector

The food and beverage sector produces food waste, packaging materials, and general waste. Proper food waste disposal is a priority, and recycling efforts may focus on glass, plastic, and cardboard.

Healthcare Sector

Healthcare Sector

Healthcare sectors generate clinical waste, including sharps, infectious, and pharmaceutical waste. Proper segregation and disposal methods are critical.

Education Sector

Education Sector

The Education sector often generates a significant amount of paper and stationery waste. Implementing recycling programs for paper and cardboard is common.

Retail Sector

Retail Sector

Retail businesses generate packaging materials, cardboard, plastic, and organic waste. Proper disposal and recycling of these materials are essential.

The commercial waste disposal regulations

There are many waste disposal regulations, which you can read in detail in our article Regulations and Compliance.

The main thing you need to be aware of is that you have a duty of care and are responsible for your waste. You could be convicted and jailed if you are found non-compliant.

It’s important to ensure that your waste disposal provider has the relevant licences to operate in the region where your waste is taken.

Commercial waste disposal FAQs

Our waste experts answer your commonly asked commercial waste disposal questions below.

What’s the difference between commercial waste collection and commercial waste disposal?

Commercial waste collection and disposal are two distinct phases in managing waste.

Commercial waste collection refers to the collection and transportation process of waste generated by businesses. From the bin placement to scheduled pickups and then the transportation.

Commercial waste disposal refers to managing and treating waste generated by businesses. It includes sorting, processing, recycling, landfill or incineration, and hazardous waste handling.

What is the difference between commercial and industrial waste?

Commercial waste typically consists of general waste, paper, cardboard, packaging materials, and other common waste generated in commercial settings. It may also include some hazardous materials depending on the nature of the commercial activities (e.g., cleaning chemicals in a commercial setting).

Industrial Waste Often includes more diverse and specialised waste types specific to industrial processes. It can include hazardous waste, chemicals, heavy metals, construction and demolition waste, and other materials associated with manufacturing and production.

How often does my business need waste disposal services?

This depends on how much and quickly you fill up your commercial waste bins.

You can speak to one of our waste experts, who will happily discuss your needs and help determine how often you need a commercial waste collection.