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How to reduce waste in your small business

3-minute read

How to reduce waste in your business
Rosanna Parrish

Rosanna Parrish

21 April 2023

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Whether you get your morning coffee in your reusable cup or use public transport to get around, we all find little ways to help the environment in our personal lives. But what about at work? If you’re a small business owner wondering how you can reduce waste and make a positive impact, read our helpful guide.

What are the benefits of reducing waste in your business?

Following the law

With an increased interest in environmentalism, more and more people are looking for ways to do their part to help the planet. The UK government has environmental and waste management regulations in place to make sure we’re all kept accountable. By not following these guidelines, you could risk fines and complaints against your small business.

Taking precautions on how you store, move, and dispose of your waste is key to staying on the right side of the law – as well as caring for the environment.

Boost your reputation

But complying with government regulations isn’t the only reason to reduce your waste output. As more of us develop an interest in the environment, creating a more eco-friendly approach to your business has been shown to improve your reputation among customers.

We’ve already seen an increased demand for more sustainable businesses. Your attitude towards recycling and waste may be the thing that convinces a new customer to work with you.

Save the planet, save your money

Another benefit of cutting down on waste in your business is the opportunity to save money. Once you start thinking critically about your waste consumption, you can make smarter business decisions.

By minimising your waste output, you can drastically lower your disposal costs. Depending on your business, you can also look into alternative materials and packaging that can cut costs as well as help the planet. This follows the government's upcoming ban on single-use plastics – something sure to affect those in the hospitality sector.

There are also already plans for a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks bottles and cans, which hopes to incentivise people to recycle more single-use drinks containers by returning a small cash deposit.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle

One of the top ways to help reduce waste in your business is by remembering to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Take a look at your stock and inventory – does one of your products not sell as well as others? These are great opportunities to reduce your waste output.

After potentially reducing your waste output, look into what you own that can be reused. Reuse items as much as you can before immediately replacing them. Some examples of this include reusing envelopes and packaging instead of buying them new, or repairing your appliances before replacing them.

And finally, remember to recycle whatever is left. Lots of waste thrown into general waste can actually be recycled. Check out the local recycling guidelines in your area and implement a clear recycling strategy within your business.

Remember to make sure you don’t contaminate your recyclables. If you put unclean items into the recycling, or items that aren’t recyclable, you risk contaminating the entire collection.

Go digital

Another way to help the planet, and to embrace technology, is by going digital.

A paperless approach to business is a great way to cut down on your waste – and can make things easier on your staff and customers. Digital receipts and invoices can easily be found in our emails and are less likely to be accidentally discarded. Paper copies of important documents can be stored safely on the cloud, whilst e-signature technologies mean we can sign these documents remotely. You can even choose to send home payslips and other important memos online instead of physically.

Government-approved waste buyers

Depending on what industry you work in, you can also look into using government-approved waste buyers. Organisations such as Wrap are promoting ways to remove your business’s food surplus to combat additional waste. They offer expert guidance and grant funding to businesses looking to make a positive change.

You can also check the government’s list of approved waste buyers to see if your waste can be sold.

Be part of the change: sustainable businesses

There’s no better time than now to start implementing a more sustainable mindset in your business. But change doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to start reducing waste in your business, it’s important to clearly communicate that with your staff and your customers. Be honest and transparent in order to bring everyone on the journey with you.

The end goal?

If you're interested in sustainability, you might have heard about B Corporations. A B Corp certification means that your business values society and the environment – and that you're continually working and growing to embrace these values. Being recognised as a B Corp is often the end goal for companies who value sustainability.

But every business has to start somewhere. Whether you're starting small by encouraging your staff to use reusable water bottles or continuing your efforts to work towards B Corp status, you'll be making a real contribution towards the environment.

Have you made the change to a more sustainable way of working? Tell us how you’re reducing waste in the comments.

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Photo: Siam/
Rosanna Parrish

Written by

Rosanna Parrish

​​Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business, specialising in legal and HR content. Trained at London College of Communication, she has been creating content professionally for eight years at publications across the UK and Spain. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world. Rosanna also writes about wellbeing in the workplace. She lives by the sea and does her best writing in coffee shops.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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