Businesses across the UK are constantly striving to be more eco-friendly and sustainable. Sometimes making subtle changes can help deliver big results. Here ahead of Earth Day, Susie Burrage, British ambassador to the Bureau of International Recycling and managing director of Recycled Products Limited, shares her tips on recycling like a pro.
Use food waste bins – people do want to recycle and do their bit for the planet but ease of access to recycling bins is essential. Some 40% of food is wasted in the UK, so recycling here can have a big impact, but it’s one aspect of recycling that’s most difficult to get participation in due to perceptions about it being smelly and unpleasant, so you can help to change perceptions by keeping the bins clean! Also ensure there is clear signage and good accessibility. People often feel guilty when putting out full food waste caddies and this can lead to a reduction in the amount of food they waste in the future. Changing mindsets will also encourage people to be more conscious of what they are wasting and ultimately be less impactful on our planet.
Recycle aluminum drinks cans
This is a great way to help, as they can be recycled indefinitely without the need to damage the environment by mining more bauxite, smelting it and transporting the finished product. Did you know that metal from recycled cans can be back on the shop shelf in six weeks? This is also a good area for corporate social responsibility initiatives, as cans can be collected and sold with the money going to charities.
Avoid using plastic cups and bottles
Ideally, try to eliminate the use of plastic cups in the workplace, as they can stay intact for some 90 years before they start to degrade if sent to landfill. Recycling also helps to keep plastic out of the ocean and you can play your part in reducing micro-plastics in the environment, which are suspected of causing contamination found in sea creatures, foodstuffs – and they have also very recently been detected in human blood for the first time. Organising beach or river clear-ups is a great way of showing that your business really does care for the environment.
Dispose of electrical waste responsibly
Recycling operatives work tirelessly to keep the streets clean and get home recyclables back into the economy but their well-being is increasingly being put at risk by waste electrical items being put into general rubbish. PCB, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) can cause explosions, fires and electrocution. Many recent incidents of fires at waste recycling centres have been caused by equipment like old mobile phones with lithium ion batteries in them which become damaged and ignite, often causing serious blazes. It’s best to keep this separate from general items and take it to your local recycling centre or a specialist WEEE recycler for safe disposal.
Buy recycled cardboard, paper and wood
We are all encouraged to put out paper waste for recycling but we can go further and favour products used at home or in the office, maybe for packaging and stationary, that’s partly or fully recycled. Wooden pallets, for example, can be collected and even repaired by specialist firms. They can also be repurposed by householders into trendy planters or garden furniture.