Recycling statistics: facts and figures

When most people think about recycling, they think about the recycling done at home. But what about the recycling done by businesses?

Even small businesses can produce a lot of waste. Paper is a classic example of a product that can soon cause a lot of waste in a workplace. The pandemic seems to have had a positive impact on the amount of paper waste that comes from UK offices, with a large proportion of workers working from home in 2020 and 2021. Household recycling and waste were up compared to previous years, giving many businesses the opportunity to go paperless. Whether this is the sign of permanent change is still yet to be seen.

While some sources of commercial waste will have been reduced during the pandemic, others have increased. Face masks and other PPE equipment were typically only used within certain industries, but until the cessation of the majority of COVID-19 rules in March 2022, these were commonplace in most industries. The result has seen these items improperly recycled, meaning they’ve brought a whole new load of waste issues to the environment. 

Many of the things businesses can do to increase recycling levels are simple and easy to do. Double-sided printing or e-statments, for example, can save a lot of paper waste. Electronics are another product that can be recycled effectively by businesses if they go through the right channels.

Why is recycling important?

You can change your impact on the environment directly by helping increase UK recycling levels by adopting a number of different and simple strategies in your office, workplace and overall environment. Using UK recycling statistics, you can see the impact recycling has on the environment, and why there is so much more to be done to help not only meet recycling targets, but exceed them.

The UK Government set a recycling target of 50% by 2020. This has not yet been met. In 2021, the recycling rate in England fell from 44.5%, to 43.8%. In the rest of the UK, Wales leads the way in recycling with a 65% recycling rate (the third highest in the world), Scotland sits at 44.7% and Northern Ireland has a rate of 50.9%. While some of the rates have stalled in the last year, they are a significant improvement on rates from the previous decade, where the overall UK recycling rate was just 17% in 2008.

What the statistics positively reflect is that taking action to increase recycling efforts pays off. So why is recycling important and what can be done to improve it? Here are some key recycling facts and figures to help you make further changes to your habits:

  • The UK uses over 9.9 million tonnes of paper each year. It is the most widely recycled product, but with 80% of paper being recycled currently, there is more that can be done to not only recycle but cut down on paper use too. By taking steps to go paperless, businesses can make better use of online systems to store documents, limiting the need to use paper while also making data more secure. Reducing the number of printers in the office and monitoring their use are two of the ways you can deter the need for printing in the workplace.
  • Every year, the UK Government increases its Landfill Tax, which is the amount charged per tonne of waste to businesses in order to encourage more sustainable prices. You can help reduce your waste management costs by looking for more effective waste disposal methods in your workplace. Recycling items such as mobile phones, computer equipment, ink cartridges and packaging can help your bottom line while also helping the environment.
  • Plastic waste remains an ongoing concern for environmental experts. In the UK, more than 5 million tonnes of plastic is used each year, with around half coming from packaging. Packaging impacts local wildlife and marine life, in addition to generating carbon emissions through its production and disposal. Businesses can do a lot to reduce the amount of plastic used, including putting better office waste measures in place. Putting more recycling bins in place of general waste disposal can help employees recycle more effectively. You can also share details of how they can reduce their use of single-use plastics in the office, to reduce the amount of plastic used overall.

To improve recycling statistics in the UK and worldwide, businesses can do more to reduce waste disposal and improve their recycling efforts. There are some effective solutions to help your business with this, including using a waste baler or compactor to make recycling easier. phs Wastekit can also provide your business with a free waste audit, to help you identify areas where recycling and waste management can be improved. Contact phs Wastekit today to see how we can help your business waste less and recycle more.

To find out how you can reduce your business waste costs and lower your impact on the environment by using a waste baler or compactor in your recycling routine, request our Wastesaving Audit or contact phs Wastekit today.

*Source for statistics: Rubicon Global

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