Recycling Commitment: the solution for SMEs or a waste of time?
Our Councils are generally good at encouraging us to recycle much of our household waste. They either collect it from outside our houses or ask us to take it to the local municipal tip.
The position for businesses is totally different. Companies have to pay someone to dispose of or recycle their waste. Whilst large companies often have the volume to make it worthwhile for a waste company to make a special trip to collect it, many SMEs do not. Things have improved considerably over the last few years, with waste companies supplying dry mixed recycling bins, glass bins, and cardboard compactors.
Caught between a rock and hard place
However, the situation is still far from ideal. With the recent waste hierarchy legislation companies are obliged to reduce, reuse and recycle prior to disposal. But for many SMEs the only realistic route to recycle their waste is the local municipal tip. If caught they are often fined or turned away at the gate.
Where can SMEs go to find cost-effective recycling solutions?
According to the Government, SMEs produce 30 million tonnes of waste a year and have achieved recycling rates of over 50 per cent. However, there have been widespread complaints from small businesses that they often cannot find cost-effective recycling facilities. Consequently, they are forced to throw out materials that could otherwise be recycled, breaking the latest legislation at the same time.
What is the Business Waste and Recycling Services Commitment?
The Business Waste and Recycling Services Commitment announced on October 19 with the backing of the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Federation of Small Businesses aims to address this problem by encouraging councils to work with SMEs to improve access to recycling services.
The commitment sets out in plain English 12 principles which should underlie a business recycling and waste service. The commitment offers local authorities a chance to demonstrate to their customers their commitment to:
- Making recycling easy;
- Providing value for money; and
- Consulting on and clearly communicating their services.
It has been suggested local municipal tips will be opened up to SMEs, and also the range of materials collected may increase. The FSB has shown that 95 per cent of businesses would recycle more if the facilities were readily available. The FSB is pleased Defra has launched this commitment to help local authorities work with SMEs.
We’ll have to wait and see what concrete action comes out of the commitment, but anything which can help companies to recycle their waste has to be welcomed.