How the world is standing up to waste

The amount of waste both individuals and businesses produce has increased dramatically over the past decade, and this issue is becoming widely recognised as an area that needs significant improvements. Due to the impact it is having on the environment and the evident waste being found on the land and oceans, there has been a recent focus on ways to do your bit to reduce human impact.

Both individuals and businesses are taking steps to minimise the number of items going to landfill by recycling and repurposing materials used for everyday things. There is also an emphasis on cutting out single-use plastic in the future, which the government is also trying to tackle by introducing guidelines and targets for stamping out this type of waste in the UK. 

?There is still some way to go in the UK, but there is a variety of things that will be coming into play over the next few years to help reduce the environmental impact of our actions.

Recycling in other countries

Reducing waste is a worldwide problem, and several countries are taking the lead in recycling and waste management. In December 2017, the World Economic Forum [1] highlighted that Germany has the best recycling rate in the world with Austria second and South Korea third. This report also explained the reasons for these achievements are due to common government policies and funding to actively support recycling initiatives.

Other EU countries (e.g. Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland) also had recycling rates under 50%. In the same category is also Australia with authorities and local waste removal companies like Fantastic Services (Australia) reporting huge part of recyclables still ending up in the landfill.

Surprisingly, the US was near the bottom of the list, and the majority of its plastics not being recycled. A significant amount of recycling is also being shipped to Asia but what happens to it after that point has been called into question. Much of the waste that is exported here is low-grade plastic that is hard to dispose of, so the problem continues as it goes into landfill in a different country.

Legislation reviews on single-use plastic

Back in the Spring Statement, it was announced that the government would look at ways to legislate the production of single-use plastics with a pledge to reduce avoidable waste to zero by 2050. Although this is a start for the Clean Growth Strategy, in comparison it is quite some way behind other countries aiming for more ambitious targets to reduce their impact on the environment. France has taken action to implement a ban on all single-use plastics from 2020 unless they are made with compostable bio-sourced materials, and India is aiming to remove single-use plastic bags by 2025. The UK still has some way to go on reducing waste and improving recycling numbers, but these initiatives are a turning point for sustainable change. 

Ways your business can reduce waste and its overall effect on the environment

Using the principles of the Clean Growth Strategy and taking responsibility for your businesses waste management and recycling policies, provides the initial steps in reducing waste going to landfill.

There are options to reduce your impact on the environment and at the same time take advantage of cost savings. Services like the phs Wastekit free Wastesaving Audit, could help you discover how to improve your waste management by using compactors and balers, reduce the costs of waste disposal and even benefit from recyclables.

For organisations that use packaging on products, there is also the consideration that you should provide (where possible) recyclable options so consumers can make the right choice. By changing your strategy towards waste and recycling, this could also help you save money in levies and taxes to reduce business costs.


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