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Why should I Segregate my Waste Properly?

10 August 2016

Most places you go to will have some form of waste segregation.  Your office may have a bin for paper and cardboard, the gym has a mixed recyclables bin, even your house should have some form of waste segregation as all local councils do kerbside collection.  But how important is it to put the right waste in the right bins?  This blog will discuss why you should pay attention to waste segregation.

The first reason is it is legally required.  Under the Waste Regulations 2011, you must segregate paper, cardboard, plastic, metal and glass at source unless it is technically or economically unfeasible.  Under the same regulations, you should implement the waste hierarchy; reduce, reuse, recycle, other recovery and disposal.  By law, you should implement this hierarchy and segregation helps with recycling in particular.

Waste segregation is included in law because it is much easier to recycle.  Effective segregation of wastes means that less waste goes to landfill which makes it cheaper and better for people and the environment.  It is also important to segregate for public health.  In particular, hazardous wastes can cause long term health problems, so it is very important that they are disposed of correctly and safely and not mixed in with the normal waste coming out of your home or office.

You have a legal obligation to correctly describe waste as it leaves your site using the correct waste transfer documentation.  For a reminder on waste transfer documentation, see our previous blogs on waste transfer notes and hazardous waste consignment notes.  These are legal documents that must be completed correctly.  If you describe a bin of your waste as ‘paper and cardboard’ and someone has half filled it with plastic, you are incorrectly describing your waste.  If this happens, you could face a fine, your waste contractor could refuse the waste or you could be charged more for them to deal with it.

Segregated waste is also often cheaper to dispose of because it does not require as much manual or mechanical sorting as mixed waste.  For example, here at EMS we segregate our paper and cardboard into a separate skip to our other, general waste.  When it comes to collection and disposal, the paper and cardboard is nearly £3 cheaper than our general waste bin.  Over time that can add up and, if you have more diverse waste streams, you can see further cost savings.  For some waste streams, you may even be able to sell it off and create a revenue stream.

There are a number of important reasons that we encourage waste segregation; legal obligations, cost savings and protection of human health and the environment.  As a business, you should make it as easy as possible for your staff to correctly segregate their waste.  This can include labelling, making sure you have enough accessible bins and making it clear why segregation is so important.  So next time you’re presented with a choice to put your plastic bottle in a general waste bin or a plastic bin, reach over to the plastic one and pop it in there.

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