Business Waste & Recycling: What We Learned

It turns out that business waste and recycling is not a load of rubbish at all, because now we’re clearer on what happens to our business waste and what we can all do to minimise our environmental impact.

Here’s what we learned at our recent “What A Load Of Rubbish” Herdy Get-Together.

1. Herdy is a Zero-Waste-to-Landfill company

2. Business waste that currently doesn’t get recycled ends up as fuel pellets for providing energy

3. Recycling is simpler than you think and reduces costs for everyone

4. All of us can learn from each other and the small changes we make results in big effects for your local community and beyond

As part of an on-going product packaging review, all of our new product packaging is made from 100% recyclable and biodegradable materials, which is reused either inside our shops or back in the warehouse.

Our loosefill packaging for protecting products during delivery is made from biodegradeable and compostable rice starch, and any excess cardboard packaging is collected by Cumbria Waste Group, sorted, and rediverted back to paper mills. No landfill.

All of our glass and plastic waste is collected and sorted by Cumbria Waste Group. Glass gets remelted, and plastic gets recycled into new packaging. No landfill.

Any excess waste we produce, rather than getting chucked into landfill, is bundled up and reprocessed to become bales of RDF, or Refuse-Derived Fuel. These bales of RDF are often exported to Europe, particularly Germany, and used to generate heat and electricity for communal purposes at recovery plants.

We know that there are hundreds of different recycling logos and other symbols that can certainly make things rather confusing.

Thanks to Mark and Andy, we learned that there are only four main groups of waste to remember for recycling in South Lakeland: Bottles, Pots, Tubs, and Trays. Much easier to remember!

And anything that doesn’t currently get recycled still goes in the grey bin, because it’s the right thing to do, and goes on to be reprocessed as RDF for energy use.

We also learned from each other at the get-together, gaining some useful tips in the process.

For example, moving to a strictly paperless office not only reduces the need to buy in and use paper in the first place, it also reduces costs.

Another tip was to remove office bins from desks altogether, as they quickly become an unthinking dumping ground for mixed waste. Instead, look into investing in a central bin and recycling point. That way, colleagues are more likely to actively recycle waste.

Business waste and recycling quiz

Another fascinating aspect to Mark and Andy’s talk was a quick quiz about the facts and stats of waste and recycling today. In true clickbait style: some of these facts will shock you!

In a year how many tonnes of waste does the UK produce? The answer is 100 million. In less than two hours the waste we produce would fill the Royal Albert Hall. Based on that rate, how many months would it take to fill Windermere (the lake)? Only 8 months.

Do you know how many trees worth of paper an average household throws away each year? It’s about 6 trees. And how long does it take a glass bottle to decompose? Over 4,000 years. Which is insane because glass is 100% recyclable, so there’s absolutely no excuse to recycling glass whenever you can!

And finally, did you know that over 20,000 tonnes of batteries in the UK are sent to landfill each year? Shockingly, it takes 50x more energy to make a battery than it gives during its life.

We all found these facts rather shocking, and certainly gave us pause for thought.

A big Herdy thank ewe

Our thanks go to Mark Wilson of Cumbria Waste Group and Andy Vickers of South Lakeland District Council for their fascinating talks and helpful insight. We also want to thank all the local businesses and institutions that turned up to join in with this lovely get-together, it’s really appreciated, and we hope you all walked away learning something new and genuinely helpful.

Keep an eye on Herdy World in the coming months for details of future Herdy Get-Togethers that you, as a local business, can get involved in. You can also join the flock on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or email us.