A Guide to Recycling, Waste Management and Resource Productivity

This Business in the Community (BITC) guide covers the five steps to greater resource productivity and responsible waste management for business.

BITC’s new guide to recycling, waste management and resource productivity aims to help businesses to understand how to eliminate avoidable waste. Also to turn any waste created by business into wealth through reduction, reuse and recycling. The benefits of better waste management are significant with cost savings, employee engagement, brand enhancement and vitally the chance to achieve a net zero carbon, circular economy. This guide builds on the work BITC has been doing with the forward-thinking businesses that have signed up to our Waste to Wealth commitment.

The guide describes a range of opportunities for turning waste into wealth, including:

  • identifying opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle waste
  • understanding the benefits for business, society and the environment
  • establishing your starting point, prioritising actions and deciding on your level of ambition
  • engaging internally with senior management and employees, and externally with suppliers, landlords and other tenants.

The guide is designed to be relevant to all organisations, large and small, and from all sectors. This includes, professional services, retailers, manufacturers and construction companies.

Recognising the need to change

There has been a recent change in public awareness of the negative consequences of our ‘throw away’ economy, and a strong desire for a less wasteful and more circular culture. This is mirrored by awakenings in business and governments about value creation, and an increase in levels of innovation and ambition. For further reading on this, visit UK government’s Waste Strategy for England.

Our attitudes towards resources and waste are changing profoundly as we recognise that, quite simply, we use too much and are too ready to throw things away, often after a single use. This brings many negative consequences, including the depletion of natural resources, environmental pollution and the emission of greenhouse gasses.

Recognising that we all have a responsibility to change is the starting point. Many businesses have targets for zero waste to landfill and have successfully increased recycling and reduced waste. But collectively we must go further and faster if we are to reverse the damage we are doing, reduce resource use and turn waste into wealth. This requires a change in business model and a shift in our supply chain management, from the tradition of waste being someone else’s responsibility, towards giving it some value.

‘Lifting the lid on waste’

We also need to ‘lift the lid on waste’ to increase understanding and dispel myths about what happens to our resources after we use them. Negative media reports about recyclable waste being shipped to other countries or ending up in landfill can mask the many positive reuse and recycle stories and create confusion about the best path of action.

The Lifting the Lid on Waste Guide aims to help everyone involved with material resources and waste. This includes landlords, tenants, property managers, facilities managers, procurement teams and employees – to understand how to eliminate avoidable waste. Also to turn any ‘waste’ created by your business into ‘wealth’ through reduction, reuse and recycling. It focuses specifically on reducing and better managing waste as part of a wider circular economy strategy, recognising that waste is value leaking from our economy.

This guide draws on the experience of some of the UK’s leading resource management companies, BITC’s Circular Economy Taskforce and signatories to the Waste to Wealth Commitment.

BITC’s Waste to Wealth campaign brings together business, government, academia and civil society to unlock opportunities to double the nation’s resource productivity and eliminate avoidable waste by 2030. Over 160 organisations have already joined the campaign by signing up to the Waste to Wealth Commitment or becoming our Waste to Wealth Partners.

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