Do you really need to buy that?

Businesses will need to re-consider the materials and products they buy and think about what will happen when they have finished with them.

Under regulations introduced at the end of the month, businesses will need to demonstrate they have considered preventing waste and recycling when looking at disposal options. This means that businesses will have to think carefully about what they buy, considering how the product is used and the impact it will have when they have finished with it.

Consider asking yourself a series of questions, such as do I really need this product, will it last a long time and can it be easily repaired, can it be recycled once I’ve finished with it? Buying fewer materials, using them for longer and recycling at the end of their life will help save money and  improve the overall efficiency of your business.

The regulations will require businesses to declare they have followed the waste hierarchy when choosing specific waste options on their waste transfer or hazardous waste consignment notes. They will need to demonstrate they have considered prevention or it could be re-used or recycled. Those businesses that do not comply with the waste hierarchy will have to justify the decisions made.

The waste hierarchy is a five-step process that has waste prevention as the best environmental option, with landfill the least viable option. The five steps are:

  • Prevention – producing less waste by using less and keeping things longer
  • Re-use – keeping products for longer, repairing if faulty, re-using parts
  • Recycle – recovering materials for use at reprocessors or in remanufacturing
  • Recovery – generating energy from waste materials
  • Disposal – burying waste at landfill sites or burning without energy recovery

The hierarchy applies in this order to most types of waste, apart from food waste where anaerobic digestion is the better environmental option and low-grade wood waste, where energy recovery is more suitable.

The new regulations come into effect on 28 September 2011 in England and Wales and apply to any business that generates, imports, produces, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of waste.

Businesses can find out ways to reduce their waste at the next Greening Your Business workshop on 22 September at the Miles Cross training centre, Symondsbury, Bridport. Check out our Events page for more information.

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