Reduce Packaging Waste: Sustainable Solutions - Biffa
Pile of waste accumulated together

How to reduce packaging waste from suppliers

24 Apr 2024
5 mins
Biffa expert advice on improving waste management and recycling for your business. 


Five simple steps your business can take to reduce the weight of your bins and save money

Each time your business receives a delivery, you become responsible for the disposal of the packaging. The more packaging your business takes in, the more weight is added to your bins, the higher the cost becomes. This means that you are paying for your suppliers packaging, twice!   

Additionally, waste that can’t recycled often costs more to collect and process. If your general waste bin is filling up with your suppliers packaging, then the chances are that you have an opportunity to reduce the overall weight of your bins and reduce the cost.  

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1. Understand your waste

In order to reduce waste, you need to understand the main causes. You can do this by recording details of waste going into a bin. You can do this by recording materials as they go in, or by performing spot checks on your bins for a typical week.   

The objective is to identify what is adding the most weight. Keep a record of reoccurring items and identify the purpose. For example, make a note If it is packaging used to transport the products, or packaging used to brand the products. Also make a note of the suppliers.  

2. Separate recycling   

If your general waste bin has recyclable materials, then consider a commercial recycling service. Disposing of materials in general waste is often more expensive because it is subject to certain taxes that don’t affect recycling collections.   

Identify what can and can’t be recycled, you can get this information from bin stickers and signage. If you don’t have that you can contact a sustainable waste management expert from Biffa and arrange a waste audit.    

Materials like soft plastics – shrink wrap and films – are not part of mixed recycling collection, but are recycled as a specialist service for some business. 

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3. Speak to your suppliers 

Contact your suppliers and ask them to work with you in reducing the amount of packaging coming into your business. They can do this by confirming the purpose of each bit of packaging and establish if it is essential to the protection of the products or the people handling them. For essential packaging that is non-recyclable, ask them if there is a recyclable alternative. 

Is there a reusable alternative to certain types of packaging? For example, using ratchets to secure boxes instead of shrink wrap. Can your supplier offer takeback on packaging used to transport goods? For any packaging that is essential and cannot be taken back, explore if there is a recyclable material that can be used.  

4. Set targets   

Check the weight of your different bins each time you receive an invoice. As packaging reduces and moves to recycling, the weight of general waste bin will drop, and this can reduce the price of disposing of general waste.  

Perform another audit in 6 months and compare the types of materials going in each bin. Setting targets is a great way to gradually improve, these targets can be shared with your suppliers to help.  

5. Talk about it  

By using less packaging, you are not just saving money, you’re protecting your local environment and community, in addition to combatting climate change. Your colleagues and customers care about this and will probably want to know they are a part of it.  

Whether your goals are to reduce food waste, to recycle more, or to repurpose waste materials, share your success and your challenges. Get people involved. Everyone has a part to play in wasting less and recycling more.   

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