How can we cut waste at work?

Businesses and organisations produce 93% of all the UK's waste, so whatever you do to recycle at home, there’s the potential for a much bigger impact in the workplace. Most UK waste still ends up in landfill sites. Apart from concerns about running out of space, and nasty toxins entering the soil and water, when waste rots in landfill it creates methane, a greenhouse gas more powerful than carbon dioxide. Reducing what you use will save money and reduce waste disposal costs. Lots of materials produced in workplaces can be recycled, and although in some cases it can cost money to separate, sort and arrange waste to be collected, in other cases it can save money. 

Things you can do now

  • Discourage unnecessary printing, and make sure printers and copiers are set to print on both sides and change your printer default modes to the most ink-saving settings.
  • Reuse scrap paper for notes.
  • Get unwanted junk mail or magazine subscriptions returned to sender.
  • Have a stationery amnesty, where everyone returns all the stationery they have stashed away.
  • Encourage people to use reusable cups, cutlery and crockery instead of disposables.

If you already have recycling systems set up, such as paper or plastic, make sure people are able to use them properly (i.e. are the collection points in suitable locations, with clear labelling and instructions?).

Bigger ideas

  • Do workers have to rely on canned drinks, or expensive water coolers? Installing mains-supply water coolers could cut costs and waste.
  • Could there be more, or better, recycling? All sorts of things, including drinks cans, plastic packaging, batteries, printer cartridges, computers and furniture can be recycled, either through regular collections, or using a service such as Freecycle.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.