The amount we consume on an individual and business scale is constantly increasing. Evolving technology, consumer demands and affluence are fuelling the growth of waste. It’s having a grave impact on our environment. This is currently being highlighted at COP26, with targets set for businesses to provide their evidence of sustainable targets by 2023. There are already a variety of initiatives in place that help to advise and control business waste. One is the waste hierarchy.
History of the Waste Hierarchy
The Waste Hierarchy was developed as a guide for waste brokerage companies to move towards a ‘zero waste economy. All contribute to a sustainable environment where we consider what we consume as a business. It became the law for these companies to follow the guide in 2011. You can also follow the principles of the hierarchy in general business.
One of the processes to use is the waste hierarchy. What is the hierarchy, and what does it mean?
The aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste.
The 5 principles in the waste hierarchy are as follows:
One of the ideas behind prevention is to hold on to items for longer, with the utilisation of refurbishments and repairs where possible. Even the redesign of products to increase their lives, creating less frequent disposals. Change the material so the item can be fully recyclable. Even the packaging can be changed, so it’s more efficient. Less filling, better fitting boxes, no plastic fill, eliminating hazardous chemicals where possible.
Whatever the material, the idea is that producers try and prevent it from needing to be disposed of in the first place.
Preparation for reuse
Can your items, having run their use, be refurbished and updated. Can you pass them on to another consumer for reuse?
Ensure the product is ready for recycling. All components need to be separated and recycled.
For example – using the parts in a PC can be used for a refurbishment of another.
Break down the product or mix it with existing products to transform it into something new. Or donate the product to charity in order to give it a new home.
For example – the collection of used paper, having it shredded, bailed and sent to a paper mill to be mixed with other paper fibres to create paper towels.
If the products can not be recycled, like some plastics or food can they be incinerated to create energy (fuels, heat, and power) This method avoids landfills and creates energy to power our homes?
If any items are not able to be recyclable, there is no choice but to send them to a landfill. This should be the last and only resort for certain materials, however, these should be able to be avoided if the other 4 principles are followed correctly.
For example – as mentioned above, some non-recyclable plastics mixed with other products can not be separated for recycling
What does the waste hierarchy mean for businesses?
The waste hierarchy legally applies to all businesses and organisations that produce waste according to the guidelines of the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011.
Basically, the waste Hierarchy helps individuals and businesses to control the amount of waste being produced. Helping them reduce waste products by trying new ideas. It is the responsibility and good practice for all businesses to undertake an audit to see where prevention of materials can be made, trying different production techniques to create less waste, and recycling more can be made. It also advises that you use registered waste collection providers making sure that you have waste transfer notes held on file to show that you are disposing of your items correctly
Benefits of using the Waste Hierarchy
You, as an ethical business, will find it a good practice to see what can be prevented from going into landfills. You can incorporate goals for maintaining sustainability as a business making your business greener. Recycling products will also help slow the harvest of virgin products like wood, helping deforestation It will slow down plastics from being made from scratch, cutting down on pollution. Simple planning techniques may save a considerable amount of raw materials and avoid any wastage. Considering using sustainable recycled plastics, paper and metals such as aluminium as the way of showing commitment to zero waste.
SMB Records Management are committed to using the Waste Hierarchy when dealing with your waste products. Why not contact us to see how we can help you cut down on your waste, and recycle various products through our dedicated framework or recyclers.
01732-668044 / 07795556080