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SMEs need more support recycling

Posted in Recycling
On 27 May 2022
By Tobias Bowman

More than half of UK SMEs think sustainability is very important to their business. So why are less than half of UK SMEs using a recycling service?

In a recent survey we asked our customers: ‘how important is sustainability to your business?’. Out of over one thousand replies, 59% said ‘very important’, with 27% saying it is ‘quite important’ or ‘important’. However, even though most feel this way, the amount using a recycling service as part of their waste management is 47%, meaning most SMEs are still using general waste bins for all their business waste.   

With less than half of all SME customers choosing recycling contracts, we believe that UK businesses need more support around their waste management choices. The three biggest reasons given for not recycling were ‘it’s too expensive’, ‘no room for additional bins’, and ‘I don’t know where to start’. What could be seen as a problem we see as an opportunity, as we believe that most of the reasons given are fixable.

How important is sustainability to your business?

In many cases, a bit of knowledge and support can overcome these challenges. While there’s lots of information out there for consumers and households, there’s not a great deal of helpful guidance for businesses. Myths like recycling is too expensive or too complicated, can be easily set straight with some helpful hints and tips.  

Our Chief Operating Officer Maxine Mayhew said, “It’s a tough time for businesses. Most people running day to day operations are having to do more with less and make difficult decisions about the future of their company. It’s understandable that improvements to waste management can slip down the to-do list.”   

“We are committed to supporting businesses of all sizes manage their waste more sustainably. We offer waste audits to advise on how small changes can make a big difference. Improvements such as changes to bin size, bin locations, and frequency of collections can free up space, save valuable time, and in some cases reduce costs.”

Despite the tough economic conditions, many SMEs are still expecting to grow over the coming three years. Our research suggests that 73%* of these businesses are planning to add additional recycling services to their waste management. This shows that businesses are ready to make a change and we are committed to supporting their next steps toward more sustainable waste management.   

We’ve been doing this for over 100 years, in the last 20 years alone we’ve seen the sector evolve rapidly. This change is set to accelerate as legislation such as Enhanced Producer Responsibility and Deposit Return Scheme improves the recyclability of packaging and changes how customers dispose of waste. This new level of accountability will impact more and more SMEs, so people making decisions about waste need help to understand what it means to their business.     

Our depth and breadth of services and expertise enables us to see the whole picture. We are working with government agencies and regulatory bodies to build a path toward a more sustainable future, helping businesses of all sizes towards increased recycling and active participation in the circular economy.

Read our ‘Five things all SMEs can try to improve recycling’  for some hints on how to get started with recycling.

Download our SME Recycling Survey infographic.