How Can Retailers Recycle Most Effectively this Christmas?

Boxing Day is very appropriately named. What better title for the day when we’re left with all of the boxes, packaging and wrapping paper from our Christmas celebrations? It can be a like game of Tetris as we flatten, squash and wish all of our recyclable waste into one wheelie bin.

If you’re a retailer, this is a daily challenge, occurring long before the big day and for a good time after, as you serve your customers with gifts, Christmas supplies and Boxing Day/New Year sales. Such a lot of packaging waste, most of which is necessary to keep products in a sellable condition as it travels from supplier to store, but what happens to all of the transit packaging when the products have been unpacked, placed on shelves and sold[KR1] ?

It’s often another game of Tetris, but this time on a much larger scale! In recent years, annual figures report that the UK has produced 4.7 million tonnes in paper and cardboard waste, and 2.3 tonnes of plastic waste. UK supermarkets alone create in the region of 800,000 tonnes of plastic waste a year and with Christmas being their busiest sales period, it’ll also be when retailers are most likely to struggle to keep waste volumes under control.

Why should retailers recycle?

Waste that isn’t recycled goes to landfill sites, where rubbish is dumped into a hole and then buried. As the waste degrades it can generate gases, such as methane, which is 23 times stronger than carbon dioxide and therefore more dangerous to the environment. Recycling waste not only lowers the amount of material in landfill sites but also reduces the amount of energy required to produce new products from scratch, as well as saving any CO2 emissions resulting from that process.

For example, it’s estimated that every tonne of aluminium that’s recycled prevents the emission of up to 7 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

In retail, it’s plastic and cardboard that are the biggest culprits, taking up large amounts of room in warehouses and storage spaces. Here, they create slip and trip hazards, not to mention attracting nesting vermin. Recycling forces retailers to sort and separate materials that can be reused, therefore containing them in suitable receptacles. This not only tidies away potential mess, providing a more pleasant shopping environment, it also raises a business’s profile within the local community and fulfils green criteria demanded by an increasing number of customers and suppliers[KR2] .

Recycling waste allows a retailer to reduce the number of general waste collections (resulting in lower landfill tax payments). Instead, they can retain a service for recyclables collections which may well be cheaper, as well as providing payment in return for quality materials.

What can retailers recycle?

In an ideal world, we’d all be producing zero waste, however if we want to preserve, store and send products, they need suitable packaging, otherwise the products themselves become the waste! Whenever possible, you should insist the suppliers use the minimum amount of packing and any that they do use is recyclable. This will make disposal at your end easier and less costly.

Retailers can recycle a wide range of materials, from paper and cardboard to plastics and textiles. In fact, most things can be recycled, it’s just a case of finding the right channels. A phs Wastekit advisor can help you to ascertain which waste items you can recycle and the best way to do it without interrupting your day-to-day business[KR3] .

How can retailers recycle?

The UK government is quite clear on the obligations of businesses, including retailers, when it comes to waste disposal and recycling. To help retailers meet their responsibilities, phs Wastekit offers a free site survey that can provide solutions that will reduce your waste disposal costs by up to 90%. If you’re unclear about your business’ commitments, we can advise on how you can meet required targets and provide the necessary equipment to allow you to do this easily and safely.

Compactors and balers are available in a range of sizes to suit the requirements of your outlet. In most cases, they take up less space than the uncompressed waste. Waste can be directly inserted into the machines and, when full, compacted and baled at the touch of a button. Bags or bales can then be safely stored until collection by a relevant recycling company.

As retailers, the most that you must do is ensure that the waste is correctly sorted before being inserted into the relevant baler or compactor – cardboard, paper and plastics all need to be separated as their recycling processes are different and any remuneration that you get for them is paid by weight and by product.

You can also help your customers to recycle by encouraging them to bring their own bags and containers when purchasing loose items, such as vegetables and schemes such as the plastic bag charge has managed to substantially reduce usage. Retailers can encourage further recycling by providing bins for items that aren’t commonly collected by domestic waste recycling schemes, such as plastic bags and textiles. This demonstrates your commitment to the environment as well as the community. Brownie (or greenie) points all round[KR4] !

Where can retailers recycle?

The good news is that you don’t have to go far at all to put an effective, money-saving recycling programme into place. Using a reputable waste management supplier, like phs Wastekit, means that you can compact and store recycled materials on your own site before collection by an accredited waste disposal company. It’s as easy as placing items into a skip. In fact, it’s probably easier as you won’t have to worry about flattening or squashing items to fit into a skip – bang goes that Christmas game of Tetris that we all love to hate!

All of these same recycling tips apply for other busy times of year for retailers: Valentines, Easter and beyond… remember, if you need help, call in the experts. phs Wastekit has lots of ideas and equipment that’ll help you keep waste to a minimum for a tidier, safer and more profitable year ahead. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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