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Effective Management of Your Waste

This section aims to provide you with all you will need to comply with the new Scottish waste regulations and much more, streamlining your business’s waste operations and improving  resource efficiency.

To access the information in PDF format

  • Click here for the main information.
  • Click here for a list of the main waste contractors providing for businesses in the west of the central belt and south west Scotland
  • Click here for the contact details of these contractors.
What Happens to Your Waste?How to Effectively Manage Your WasteReasons to Effectively Manage Your Waste

The Process for Each Fraction

Mixed waste is separated in a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) using a mix of visual inspection and automated processes (for instance magnets and air blowers). Recyclable materials segregated onsite at your business or separated in MRFs are baled, granulated or shredded in preparation for reprocessing and shipped (within the UK and overseas) to specialist companies. The exact recycling process depends upon the type of waste, contractor and the product they produce, the following are some examples.

03B71097Paper tends to be split into two grades, pulped and paper clips, staples, glue and ink removed before being reprocessed into paper. Newspapers and magazines are recycled for newsprint and mixed papers and cardboard are recycled for use in packaging.

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03D38441Steel food and drinks cans are separated from aluminium cans using magnets. Aluminium cans are shredded, cleaned with hot air at 500°C, melted down in a furnace at 700°C and finally pumped into a mould and cooled.

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02I80412Plastic bottles are sorted into type of plastic and colour, melted down directly or after flaking, and reformed. They can be used for new plastic bottles, garden furniture, water butts, compost bins and so on. Reusing plastic conserves precious oil reserves.

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The William Tracey Group in Linwood deals in recycling and resource management.  Click here to access their case study and find out how they deal with different fractions of waste.

Some firms deal in specialist recycling such as Trident Recycling Ltd in Glasgow who are specialists in plastic recycling.  Access their case study here.

compostingOrganic green garden waste is converted into compost. Material is piled in long mounds and kept at optimum temperatures (65-80°) and moisture levels for about 10 weeks, during which time harmful bacteria and seeds are killed off. It is then screened at 20mm, larger pieces are returned to the start, and smaller pieces are piled once again for a further 3 weeks before screening at 10mm.

Anaerobic digestion of food waste uses micro-organisms to break down organic matter without 02F33088oxygen. Specially made digesters allow gas, liquid and solid products to be collected which would be lost if landfilled. The gases are methane-rich and can be burned to produce electricity and / or heat. The liquid can be used as fertiliser, whilst the solids add important organic matter to soils which improves their structure and fertility.

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Recovery - Energy from Waste

Recovery refers to any waste that replaces other materials thereby reducing resource use and improving resource efficiency. Waste with high calorific value that cannot be reused or recycled may replace fossil fuels to produce heat or electricity. There are several methods of energy recovery (energy from waste), including:

• Incineration with energy recovery: waste is burnt to generate electricity or heat.

• Gasification: Solid wastes are converted into a gas, which can be used to generate electricity or steam.

• Pyrolysis: Solid wastes are heated, without oxygen, to produce a gas for electricity generation and steam plus an oil and a charcoal-like solid which can produce heat.Back to Top

At present the ‘energy from waste’ sector in Scotland is small and most ‘refuse derived fuel’ is shipped in vast tonnages (typically 50,000 tonnes per tender) to countries in northwest Europe. In order to be economically viable, these plants have automated systems capable of processing material in bulk.

Although these plants divert waste from landfill, helping to meet national targets, they are not without controversy:

• The vast quantity of fuel needed by these plants may encourage waste production or take materials that could be recycled.

• Burning waste obscures the need to improve recycling methods for those materials currently technically unfit for mainstream recycling.

• Materials that are burnt are permanently lost whereas landfilled waste has been identified as a mineable resource by a number of companies in Europe.

• Businesses trying to reduce their waste may send it for incineration, rather than recycling, if it is the cheaper optionBack to Top

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Case Study: William Tracey Group (Recycling and Resource Management Services)

Case Study: Trident Recycling Ltd (specialists in plastics recycling)

Case Study: Lowmac Alloys (waste and recycling company and SPI clients)


How Much Waste Do You Produce and What Is It?
If you do not already know, separate your waste for a week (or longer if appropriate). This exercise will show the type and quantity of waste that your business typically produces. It is the first step towards reducing your waste costs and is a good start point to becoming more resource efficient. You will need to:

  • Classify your waste.
  • Record the quantity (volume or weight) of each type of waste produced on a weekly, monthly or annual basis.
  • Identify any special (hazardous) wastes that you produce, and understand the controls that apply to these.

Examples of waste table

For further information on identifying and classifying hazardous waste, its storage, transport and disposal, go to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency special waste pages  and access the guidance document WM2 – Interpretation of the definition and classification of hazardous waste.

A more comprehensive UK List of Waste (LOW) or European Waste Catalogue (EWC) codes is available in the SEPA document ‘Appendix A Consolidated European Waste Catalogue’ (use search engine to access). Back to top 

Case Study: Queens Hotel, Lockerbie

Case Study: Harbourside Hotel, Irvine

Produce a Waste Map or Waste Process Chart

Combine your information on the type and quantity of waste, where it is produced, stored and who (which contractor) is responsible for its removal. This can be laid out either as a waste map or a waste process chart, in order to identify areas or processes that could be improved.

A waste map is created by marking your waste information on a site map.

waste map

Your waste information may also be recorded in a simple flow chart, examples are available for download from WRAP and Zero Waste Scotland (an example is given below). Your dedicated SPI Business Advisor can also produce a waste process chart as shown when you click on  JJR Print, a SPI client from Dumbarton.

waste process chart template

Click to access Diamond Power’s waste process map, also produced through their engagement with the SPI programme.

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How to Reduce Your Waste

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You can cut your waste costs and increase the efficiency of your business by applying the Waste Hierarchy to your business. Are there ways to prevent → reduce → reuse or → recycle unwanted materials within your business? Ask your staff for their ideas.

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Here is a list of handy tips on how to prevent, reduce, reuse or recycle your waste.



  •  Design, or use, products that contain fewer resources, eliminate off-cuts, last longer and can be easily repaired.
  • Ask suppliers to reduce and / or take back their packaging.


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• Extend the life of equipment (e.g. electronics and furniture) by hiring, reusing, maintaining or choosing items with lasting appeal.

• Buy second hand furniture and equipment where possible.

• Sell, donate or swap unwanted items that are in good working condition and meet safety standards, in particular, furniture, textiles, electrical and electronic equipment. There are a number of charities, community groups and manufacturers who may collect these free of charge. Information on local community groups can be found on the Community Recycling Network for Scotland (CRNS) website.  You can also refer to our comprehensive list of contractors providing recycling for businesses in the west of the central belt and south west Scotland.  The materials they recycle and their contact details are provided.

• Computers and other waste electrical and electronic equipment should, where possible, be refurbished for further use.

• Mobile phones can be donated to the Red Cross to be refurbished

• Recycle used printer toner and ink cartridges – choose a supplier that has a returns policy.

• Preferably use reusable batteries and recycle all other batteries from electronic equipment. Back to Top


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• Use only the adequate amount of packaging, ensure it is re-usable and ask your suppliers to do so too.

• Use emails and issue reports and newsletters in electronic form.

• Use electronic storage (hard drives).

• If printing or photocopying, use thinner paper and print on both sides to save paper.

• Paper can be reused for internal notes (saving the cost of notebooks and post-it notes).

• Reuse envelopes for internal mail and routine correspondence.

• Register with the Mail Preference Service to stop receiving junk mail.

• Reuse folders (cover old labels with a sticker).

• Buy products made from recycled materials.

• Waste cardboard and paper can be donated to schools, creative clubs, theatres, or even shredded and used as animal bedding. Back to Top


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• Use re-usable carrier bags.

• Replace plastic packaging with recycled natural alternatives including paper, cardboard, shredded paper and waxed cardboard.

• Biodegradable plastics cannot be recycled. If you generate a lot of plastic waste make sure it can be recycled.

• Replace individually packaged soaps and shampoos with dispensers Back to Top



Textiles can be reused as cleaning cloths or recycled for industrial rags.


• Do not over-order food.

• Offer a variety of portions on your menu to avoid wasted food.

• Where possible avoid pre-packed portions in disposable packaging.

• If packaged, try to use biodegradable materials like cardboard rather than plastic.

• Unwanted food within its use-by date can be donated to Fare Share.

• Use reusable water containers, glass bottles, crockery and cutlery to reduce waste and for a high-quality attractive appearance.

You can compost your food waste if it is generated, composted and used on the same site, and not available to domestic animals. Click here to find out more.

• Used cooking oil can be reprocessed for biofuel or use in cosmetics


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• Wood and metal offcuts may be used by community workshops.

• Spare paint can be used by Community Repaint.

• Can boxes, pallets, drums be reused on site?

• Source timber from sustainably managed forests (look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo).

• Rubble and other construction waste can be broken down into aggregates.

• Recovered building materials, including timber, rubble, piping, cable can be reused or recycled.


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• Tyres, which still have enough tread can be re-used if they have passed inspection and meet government regulations. Alternately, they can be used for fuel, typically in cement kilns.

• Recycle used cars, including batteries and waste oil. Parts can be refurbished for reuse.

Microsoft Word - Reduce Your Costs.docx

Preventing or reducing your business waste will lower your raw material costs by eliminating

  • The cost of purchasing wasted materials and their packaging;
  • The cost of procurement and storage;
  • The energy and labour wasted on materials subsequently discarded.

It is possible to reduce waste disposal costs:

  • Segregation of materials can increase their value. Reduce the number of bins for mixed waste and increase the number of colour-coded recycling bins to make it easier for staff to sort waste at source. For example, site relevant bins in offices, canteens, delivery and dispatch areas, production areas and warehouses.
  • Reduce the frequency of collections and size of waste containers so that they are only removed when full. Note: check with staff whether waste levels are consistent or fluctuate seasonally.
  • Consider hiring or purchasing a baler, compactor, granulator or shredder to compact bulky waste, for example, waste paper, cardboard or plastic.
  • Do you produce a lot of one material? If so, find the best way to manage its removal.
  • Make sure you have, and negotiate, the most appropriate waste collection contract. Share waste collection with neighbouring businesses.

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Does Your Waste Have Value and Getting the Best Deal

Does Your Waste Have Value?

There is a growing international market in recycled materials that are scarce or expensive to produce. For current prices and other information on the value of recyclable waste visit Let’s Recycle  or subscribe to the WRAP Materials Pricing Report.  Keep-up-to-date as prices fluctuate and costs incurred for removal can change. This knowledge can provide powerful bargaining power with your waste contractor and help identify which waste types to target for cost cutting or income generation.

Materials with high monetary value, separated onsite for collection, can signficantly reduce costs or create income. These include metals and some specialised contractors may pay for plastics, high-quality office paper and so on. If you produce a lot of a particular waste, ask a number of waste contractors and specialist recycling companies for their specifications and a quote.

Think ‘outside the box’ – are there other organisations, in particular local businesses or charities that may be able to use or benefit from your unwanted materials? By diverting bulky items from landfill you will save money, benefit society and the environment and can promote your business reputation.  See our comprehensive list of waste contractors offering recycling to businesses in the west of the central belt and south west Scotland.  The materials they recycle and their contact details are provided.

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Choosing and Negotiating with Your Waste Contractor(s)

Waste is a fast moving industry – prices and management techniques change. Keep up-to-date, ask for quotes from a number of companies once a year to ensure you are getting the best deal. Your waste may be a resource with value, so do not simply ask for the cost of removal but what more can they offer you.  In turn, what can you do to reduce costs by reducing your waste contractor’s overheads?

The following questions may help you get a better deal.

• What are the costs of container hire or purchase, collection and disposal?

• What is the charge for removing mixed waste?

• Are charges lower for segregated recyclates?

• What happens to the waste?

• If market prices for recyclates rise or fall, is there a cost reduction or increase?

• Do they provide a detailed breakdown of waste quantities and the associated costs?

• What is the minimum required quantity of material?

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Ideally, choose waste contractors with an Environmental Management System that have been certified. There are three certification schemes: BS 8555 (British), the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (European) and ISO 14001 (international). These businesses have a proactive approach to the environment, acting to reduce the impact of their activities, products or services beyond legislative requirements. Also ask if they are ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems) certified.

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Check out this case study on JJR Print, Dumbarton and how they were able to recycle all their key materials after better communication with their waste contractor.

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Comply with Statutory Obligations
  The Scottish Government launched the Zero Waste Plan in 2010. All businesses, regardless of size, now have a legal responsibility (duty of care) to ensure that any waste they produce, store, transport, and dispose of does not harm the environment, by: Segregating, storing and transporting waste appropriately and securely. Using authorised people or businesses (registered with SEPA) to handle and transport waste, and ensure it is managed correctly. Documenting all movements with waste transfer notes, which must be kept at least two years. These should include the type and quantity of waste and how these were managed.

New waste regulations from 1 January 2014


Key materials (metal, plastic, glass, paper and card) must be separated for collection. Food waste must be separated for collection from food businesses that produce over 50kg of food waste per week (except in rural areas). This approximates to one full wheelie-bin. Food businesses are those that process, distribute or prepare food for sale, for example, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and canteens in non-food businesses. Click here to find out whether your business location is classed as rural. Back to Top

From 1 January 2016

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Food waste must be separated for collection from food businesses that produce over 5kg of food waste per week (except in rural areas). Disposal of (solid) food waste into drains and sewers will be illegal (except in rural areas). Click here for all the current legislation and requirements regarding business waste in Scotland.

Waste legislation is in place for asbestos, burning waste, end of life vehicles (ELVs), hazardous / special waste and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). More specialist examples of waste legislation and compliance can be found by following the link to the More Waste Materials page.Back to Top

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As well as helping comply with waste regulations, preventing or reducing waste saves money, raw materials, water and energy. Materials that were previously taken to landfill, are now seen as a resource with value, especially if they become increasingly scarce and prices rise. As a business, separating and directing your waste materials to appropriate waste and recycling contractors can reduce your costs, or even generate revenue.

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Managing waste will prove your commitment to reducing environmental impacts, which can be positive for marketing and attracting new clients. If you wish to take this further, producing an Environmental Management System for your business and getting it certified (for example ISO 14001), can increase your clientele with those businesses and government departments that require suppliers with environmental accreditation. For an online Environmental Management Systems training course go to the Zero Waste Scotland website.

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Environmental Benefits

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Useful materials sent to landfill are a wasted resource that could be cycled indefinitely, at minimal environmental cost. Most raw materials are finite and the environmental costs of extraction extreme. For example, producing aluminium from recycled sources is much more efficient, using just 5% of the energy needed for extraction from the raw material. Re-use and recycling lowers demand for new materials. Good waste management can make important contributions to resource efficiency and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by:

  • Lowering energy consumption, in particular of fossil fuels, for production and transport.
  • Extracting energy from waste, for example using anaerobic digestion, gasification or pyrolysis.
  • Reducing waste going to landfill and the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Waste that is not disposed of in a responsible way poses a danger to wildlife (for example, through entanglement or ingestion) and ecosystems (for example, contamination of water and soil). Furthermore, human health is at risk, for example, from contaminants and a reduced quality of life.
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poppies and wind turbine02I92920Recycle sign3d chemistry formulas in Grass of Methane


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