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.

In this guide we cover:

The different ways to dispose of commercial waste

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



At a commercial recycling facility, mixed recycling is sorted using human interventions or recycling technologies such as conveyor belts, screens, and magnets to separate the materials.

The materials then undergo a cleaning process. Paper and cardboard are often pulped and cleaned of contaminants, while metals are melted.

Paper and cardboard are usually processed into new paper, glass is melted and reshaped, and plastics are melted and remoulded into new products.

Visit our blog post on how materials are recycled for further details.



Waste items disposed of at landfills include non-recyclable plastics, mixed and contaminated materials, single-use items, coated paper and cardboard, as well as hazardous and clinical waste.

Once collected, the general business waste is sorted to ensure that nothing recyclable is inadvertently disposed of.

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

For more information, visit our blog on why are landfills bad for the environment.



Incineration is an alternative to landfills that extracts energy from difficult-to-recycle plastics, contaminated food waste, hazardous waste, medical waste, textiles, and treated wood.

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

Most incinerators in the UK use the energy released from waste combustion to generate electricity.

<h3>Anaerobic digestion</h3>

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.

Food waste, agricultural residues, wastewater treatment sludge, garden waste, and paper pulp can be processed through anaerobic digestion.

The anaerobic digestion of waste produces biogas, primarily methane, and a nutrient-rich by product known as digestate.



The types of waste that can be composted generally originate from the food and beverage sector include fruits, vegetables, 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.

Commercial waste disposal across the UK

Waste infrastructure in the UK is diverse, with specialist disposal and recycling facilities available only in certain locations. In this section, we’ll explore the commercial waste disposal facilities in some of the UK’s biggest cities.

<h3><a href="">London commercial waste disposal</a></h3>

London commercial waste disposal

London is densely populated and has limited space, so waste and recycling collected in the city are usually transported out of London for disposal elsewhere. London’s roads are congested, so a large portion of waste disposal occurs by rail or using boats on the River Thames.

<h3><a href="">Nottingham commercial waste disposal</a></h3>

Nottingham commercial waste disposal

Commercial glass waste collected in Nottingham is disposed of at a glass cullet processing facility in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, a few miles north of the city. Recresco Glass Recycling operates Nottingham’s glass recycling facility.

<h3><a href="">Cornwall commercial waste disposal</a></h3>

Cornwall commercial waste disposal

Commercial food waste collected in Cornwall is disposed of at an anaerobic digestion facility in the Cornish village of Fraddon. The facility converts organic waste from local businesses into compost and green biogas.

<h3><a href="">Bristol commercial waste disposal</a></h3>

Bristol commercial waste disposal

Clinical waste generated in Bristol is disposed of at a dedicated healthcare waste incinerator in Avonmouth. Incinerators safely dispose of sharps and other hospital waste that presents a biohazard risk.

<h3><a href="">Cardiff commercial waste disposal</a></h3>

Cardiff commercial waste disposal

General business waste collected in Cardiff is disposed of at a landfill site in the nearby village of Newton on the banks of the Severn Estuary. Using local landfill sites reduces the carbon cost of transporting waste long distances.

<h3><a href="">Leeds commercial waste disposal</a></h3>

Leeds commercial waste disposal

Veolia, a commercial waste disposal provider, operates a state-of-the-art recycling and energy recovery facility in Leeds. The site uses waste to generate enough electricity to power 22,000 local homes.

Commercial waste disposal for different sectors

The commercial waste disposal needs of UK companies vary significantly from sector to sector. Here, our experts summarise the key waste disposal challenges for the UK’s most common small businesses:

<h3>Food and beverage</h3>

Food and beverage

Restaurants, pubs, and cafes generate food waste, packaging materials, and general business waste. Proper food waste disposal is a priority, and recycling efforts focus on glass and cardboard.



Healthcare institutions like GPs, hospitals, and dental practices generate clinical waste, including sharps, amalgam, and other biohazardous materials. Proper segregation and disposal processes are critical to maintaining a safe environment for patients.



Schools and universities generate a significant amount of paper and stationery waste. Implementing recycling programmes for paper and cardboard is common, involving separate bins, collections, and disposal for this waste type.



High street shops and supermarkets generate significant volumes of packaging materials from stock deliveries, including cardboard and plastic waste. Disposal and recycling of packaging waste can result in waste rebates.



Digital transformation is quickly reducing the volumes of waste produced by offices in the UK. However, secure data destruction and disposal of electronic and paper waste remain critical in the office environment to adhere to GDPR.



Events pose a significant waste disposal challenge as all waste collection and storage infrastructure needs to be temporarily installed at the event site. Visit our event waste management page for more information.

Storing commercial waste before disposal

Businesses have a duty of care to securely store commercial waste and recycling before disposal. Our experts present best practices for storing different types of waste:

<h3>General business Waste</h3>

General business Waste

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

<h3>Commercial recycling</h3>

Commercial recycling

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.

<h3>Business Food Waste</h3>

Business 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.

<h3>Hazardous Waste</h3>

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.

<h3>Confidential Waste</h3>

Confidential Waste

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.

<h3>Commercial Glass Waste</h3>

Commercial Glass Waste

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.


Commercial waste disposal FAQs

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

What are commercial waste disposal regulations?

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

All businesses have a duty of care over the waste they generate. Business owners can be convicted and jailed if found to be non-compliant.

A commercial waste disposal location will provide a signed waste transfer note, allowing your business to demonstrate compliance with waste regulations.

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.

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.

For more information, visit our commercial waste costs guide.

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.

For more information, please visit our full guide to the landfill tax.