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Visit Scotland | Alba

As a business, your waste will include a range of materials such as plastic, glass, metal, cardboard and food waste. All this waste costs your business money. Money to dispose of it, but also money to buy the product before it was waste and to transport, store, and handle it.

Any waste going to landfill takes valuable resources out of the economy and has a negative environmental impact.

Preventing or reducing waste is the best thing you can do to save money and reduce your impact on the environment. Even if you don’t pay directly for a commercial waste pick-up, it will also save you money by reducing the amount of products you need to buy.

1. What do you know about the waste you produce?

  • How much waste is produced?

    Start by measuring your waste to understand where you are starting from. You can get an idea of how many bins you have and how full they are. If you have a commercial waste pick-up, check with your waste contractor what information they can provide.

  • Most common type of waste

    Understanding the composition of your waste helps you identify the most common waste you produce (e.g. cardboard, glass, plastic). This gives you a good idea of where to start with reduction and make the quickest wins.

  • Did you know?

    The hospitality and food service sector in Scotland produces over 262,000 tonnes of mixed waste each year.

  • Legislation

    The Waste (Scotland) Regulations have been in effect since 1 January 2014. They need you to separate your paper, card, glass, plastics and metal at source for separate collection.

  • Did you know?

    From 1 April 2021, the standard rate landfill tax is £96.70 per tonne of waste. This makes recycling often a more commercially savvy way of waste disposal.

2. Top tips to reduce packaging waste

  1. 1

    Buy in bulk

    Cut down on both cost and packaging. This could be anything from cleaning products, guest toiletries or dry goods.

  2. 2

    Avoid unnecessary printing costs

    Only print documents when necessary and print on both sides (duplex setting).

  3. 3

    Avoid or reduce use of bottled water

    Offer tap water in jugs or bottle your own water on site using refillable bottling stations instead.

  4. 4

    Avoid single use items

    These include small sachets of coffee, sugar, sauces or disposable cups and cutlery.

  5. 5

    Work with suppliers to reuse packaging

    Only opt for suppliers that take back packaging or actively work to reduce packaging.

3. Top tips for recycling in your business

There will be waste that you cannot avoid and that you will be looking to recycle. Recycling is the processing of used and waste materials into new products. Generally businesses can recycle about 70-75% of waste they produce.

  • Separate as much as possible

    Are you separating out all the key recyclable wastes? The more effectively you segregate materials from your general waste, the less landfill tax you will pay. Check with your council or waste contractor about your options.

  • Use clear signage

    This will make it easy for customers and staff to use the bins correctly and to help prevent recyclables ending up in the wrong bin. Recycle for Scotland has free to access material to help you.

  • Choose the right bins

    Are you paying for larger bins, which are often only half full when picked up? Save money by either switching to smaller bins or less frequent uplifts. If your bins are in a publicly accessible place, it may be useful to lock them to ensure you're using them appropriately.

  • Compact it

    A compactor will help to reduce the physical volume of the recyclables. This is particularly useful for many of the bigger items such as cardboard. If you are charged per bin lift this will reduce the number of uplifts and help save money.

  • Provide training

    Instruct your staff on which materials go in each bin and the importance of doing so. For example:

    • Saving money
    • Avoiding waste contractor penalties for contamination of segregated wastes
    • Being legally compliant


    Provide information in different languages where relevant.

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