Bristol Business Blog: The major revenue potential of materials recycling. Daniel Peacey, regional sales manager, Grundon

November 4, 2022

The way we think about and treat our waste has changed dramatically in recent years. Whereas once we threw it out with barely a second thought, today we are increasingly seeing waste as a valuable commodity that can help save money, boost environmental credentials and be good for the planet – providing it is correctly managed.

While recycling some materials, such as glass, paper and cardboard have become the norm, there are still many items whose recycling potential is largely untapped.

So, how do you uncover the hidden gems in your waste? The first step to finding the value in your waste involves identifying which materials are being thrown away and what currently happens to them. This can be achieved by looking in bins at different locations around your premises.

The best way to do this is to call in an expert to undertake a waste audit, identifying the types of waste being thrown away and the new disposal routes which will deliver both value and environmental benefits.

Experts in waste management, like Grundon, can help organisations make those important decisions about increasing recycling opportunities. More and more we are seeing new waste streams come online together with innovative technologies that are making it easier to recycle, reuse and repurpose.

How much could you be earning from your waste?

Many businesses often don’t realise that developments within the waste sector have meant there are many more opportunities to recycle a much broader range of products.

However, to achieve this effectively and efficiently, it’s important to understand both the quantity and quality of materials required.

The value of different waste streams will vary according to market demands, but there’s plenty of scope for earning substantial rebates on a variety of materials.

We have some indications here of the monetary value of various waste products. You’ll notice we haven’t discussed plastics – we’ll cover that separately when you hear from us next. Please note these figures are indications only.

Of course, you’ll need a certain amount of the material in order to earn a rebate, and there may be collection and disposal fees to consider, too. But in a world where profit margins are often tight, recycling can make a real difference to the bottom line of a business.

Cardboard, commonly recycled, can earn you £80 per baled tonne, usually for a minimum of 10 tonnes. We call it ‘beige gold’ and its value has steadily increased over recent years. One of our clients, Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, recently earned £24,000 in six months after baling and recycling its cardboard.

For paper, each time you recycle a tonne you’re saving 380 gallons of oil. Baled, it’s worth £50 per tonne for a minimum of 10 tonnes.

Paper cups are a real bugbear of ours – less than one per cent of the 7 million disposed of in the UK each day are recycled. The problem is the polyethylene film bonded on the inside, which makes them waterproof but is hard to separate. At Grundon, we send them to a specialist facility where 100% of the cup is recycled. It can even be turned into office paper, which is a great example of the circular economy in action.

Metals are easy to recycle and come at different values, usually earning you between £40 and £80 per tonne. Transport costs will vary on the quality of the metal, which can be rapidly back in use avoiding the need for landfill.

Our top tips for uncovering hidden gems

So, there are some indications of the savings to be made. Our top tips for making the most of your recycling are as follows.

First, the practicalities. Rethink your outdoor space to maximise storage and cut collection costs. Ask about buying or renting a compactor or baler, depending on your requirement. And make sure your waste is clean – you’ll derive a bigger rebate that way.

Second, your strategy. We’d recommend asking an expert to do a recycling audit at your business. It costs nothing and delivers huge potential. Also, find a company who can recycle all your streams, as this is the most cost-effective way.

Educate and encourage your employees to understand the strategy and get involved and use data to thank them for their performance.

And when it’s working, shout about it! Enter awards, promote your environmental credibility and engage future employees with your eco credentials.

To find out how your business can improve its recycling performance and potentially earn rebates book your free waste audit with us. Contact or call 01179 826 590.

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