Recent estimates suggest that business
waste accounts for over 60 per cent of England’s waste. Rising
Landfill Tax and a raft of waste management recommendations over
the past decade (both voluntary and compulsory) have provided both
the financial and environment disincentives to dump – and not
without good reason.
With the demand on landfill reaching critical
proportions; the National Audit Office warned in 2009 that there
are only seven years of landfill capacity left in England and Wales
– burying the problem is no longer an option for any of us.
“Businesses have had to make sense of
constantly changing regulations around waste management, which is a
challenge. However, it has prompted some proactive approaches from
within companies and been a catalyst for innovation in the waste
”For businesses wishing to make an impact on
their own waste management, Clive cites the hierarchy of waste
treatment options – ranging from waste reduction as the best case
scenario, all the way down to the bottom of the pile, disposal to
landfill – as a good guide to follow.
“Businesses can use this model to look at
their own treatment of waste. Ideally, looking to reduce the amount
of waste they generate in the first instance, but the next best
option is to aim for sustainable disposal practices.”
Clive cites the Telford-based company, Ricoh –
a European market leader in digital copiers – as an example of good
practice. The single-use packaging they used to protect their
copiers not only resulted in costly ongoing outlay for the company,
but presented unnecessary environmental waste. Their solution was
to design reusable packaging which could be returned to them by the
customer for reuse.
Businesses wishing to translate waste
management regulations into meaningful practice will find useful
resources available from WRAP (Waste & Resources Action
Programme) and NISP (National Industrial Symbiosis Programme).
Visit: www.wrap.org.uk and www.nisp.org.uk
“Other European companies favour or only work
with businesses that have the ISO 14001 accreditation. The
University has been able to help local businesses undertake their
base-line assessment – which is the first step to achieving
registration. It’s not inconceivable that the European Parliament
will make ISO 14001 a legal requirement, so it’s in the interest of
businesses to prepare themselves”.
Environmental waste management has emerged as
a rapidly growing sector in the UK. Recognised as a fertile area
for innovation, developments in the waste management sector have
helped businesses overcome some of their waste management issues,
offering more opportunities than ever to reuse, recycle or recover
value from their waste.
Considerable investment in new technologies
has resulted in more economic benefit being gained from waste
materials. An example is the exporting of waste-oil abroad to
countries like Germany for treatment and processing – representing
considerable cost to both the originating company and the
environment. A brand new waste-oil recycling facility in North
Lanarkshire is the first of its kind in the UK to employ vacuum
distillation to turn industrial waste oil into reusable lubricant
and fuel oil.
The unit is designed to ensure no harmful
emissions are released into the atmosphere and is a safer and more
cost effective option than conventional methods used to recycle
waste oil. The waste recovery industry is also looking at ways to
recycle rare earth elements and other critical metals.Increasing
demand for these commodities has led to an escalation in price,
dictated mainly by China. If successful, this development would
allow UK manufacturers, especially those in the hi-tech and ‘green’
energy industries, to source these valuable commodities nearer to
As we strive towards a ‘zero waste’ target, it
does appear that there’s very little that can’t be recycled.
However, businesses and waste management providers still have to
strike a balance between cost and the environment. Some waste
products still remain too expensive to be viably recycled. But this
sector appears to be a pipeline for innovation with plenty of
investment being channelled into research and development in search
of ever more innovative solutions to our waste problems.
For further information please contact the
Solutions Centre on 01902 321272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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