Reduce waste

Managing waste efficiently prevents it ending up at landfill sites and causing harmful emissions as it breaks down.

Find out what changes you can make to reduce waste and how it can benefit your business and the environment.

Business obligations

According to the government’s waste care of duty, your business must:

  • limit the amount of waste it generates
  • store waste safely and securely
  • encourage the reuse or recycling of waste
  • ensure waste is disposed of without causing harm to the environment or human health
  • complete a waste transfer note for every consignment of waste


By reducing your waste you can:

  • prevent it ending up at landfills or incinerators
  • reduce harmful emissions
  • reduce waste disposal costs and landfill tax

Waste management costs and taxes

The more waste you produce, the higher your waste management costs will be.

Costs of disposing of general waste in 2021:

  • bin hire costs, beginning at £30 per year
  • weekly bin collections, beginning at £125 per year
  • waste transfer costs, at between £12 and £250 per tonne
  • landfill tax of £94.15 per tonne


The following regulations could affect how your business is expected to deal with waste:

You can be fined if you do not comply with these regulations.

How to reduce waste

Carry out an audit at your workplace

Walk around your premises and identify where unnecessary waste is being generated. Pay attention to:

  • raw materials – are water, energy or office supplies being used efficiently?
  • recycling – are paper, glass, food and plastic being recycled?
  • packaging – is product packaging necessary? If so, is it reusable or biodegradable?
  • waste storage – are materials being stored, separated and transported correctly?


Use colour-coded bins. Make each recycling option as clear as possible. Also:

  • make them easily accessible to all employees
  • remove ‘general waste’ bins and personal bins under desks

Find out how to reuse and recycle your waste.

Go paperless

Going digital means spending less on paper and other office supplies.

Print less

When printing:

  • use both sides of the paper
  • recycle paper where possible

Sell your waste

A growing number of companies offer to buy waste such as paper or plastic. Do an internet search to find out which companies buy waste near you. Check to see if they are a registered buyer at GOV.UK.

See how Riverford Farm reduced its waste.

Find more information about waste management obligations from The Environmental Services Association (ESA).