Waste management tips for business

By encouraging reuse, recycling and resource recovery in your business, you can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill. Reducing your business's waste can save you money, and benefit the environment.

Steps to develop a better waste management plan for your business

Follow these steps to effectively manage waste in your business:

Step 1 – Measure business waste

For a quick visual waste assessment, go around to all the bins presented for collection just before the collection truck arrives and see how full they are. Don't worry if there are different sized bins; simply note down the sizes, an estimate of how full they are, and how often waste is collected.

For example, there might be a standard domestic 240L wheelie bin that is 50% full and collected once a week, equalling 120L of waste per week.

Once you have collated this information, you will know how much waste material your business produces within a given time frame.

Step 2 – Reduce waste going to landfill

Identify your options to:

  • Reduce – can waste be avoided or reduced by the way your business obtains goods and services or by changing the way it operates?
  • Reuse – does another local business have a use for the waste materials you produce?
  • Recycle – what materials can be targeted for recycling?

Step 3 – Identify local collectors of recyclable materials

By knowing how much material your business produces over a period of time, and the types of materials that can be diverted from landfill, you can identify the most suitable waste and recycling collection contractors.

Planet Ark's business recycling directory lists private and local government recycling services (including collection, transport or drop-off points) across Queensland and Australia. You can search by type of material and location to easily find the recycling services you want.

Step 4 – Understand waste and recycling collection contracts

You should try to secure the most appropriate collection arrangement for the recoverable materials you produce. Your first contact should be your current waste service provider, who may be a private operator or the local council.

As part of investigating what can be recycled, you also need to consider what impact your waste or recycling contract arrangements are going to have on your ability to recycle. For example, if your recycling is picked up fortnightly, ensure that your recycling bin is large enough to hold 2 weeks worth of recycling or change your contract to have your bin picked up weekly.

Think about what your current contract offers and how this may affect your waste and recycling practices. Remember that a waste or recycling contract is a legal document and you may require independent legal advice.

Step 5 – Implement material collection systems at business premises

Different businesses generate different types of recoverable materials. The bins emptied into the collection truck, typically wheelie bins and bulk bins, may not be the same bins used for collecting the material around your business premises. How you separate materials in your business will be determined by how waste is collected.

For example, if you have separate paper or cardboard collection services, then paper and cardboard will need to be separated from other recyclable materials, preferably at the point where they are generated. This requires clear communication and signage to be available to staff, cleaners and, in some cases, clients.

If your business is in a strip of shops or a shopping centre with shared bins, communicate with other business owners to ensure waste is being sorted correctly.

Use signage to help your business implement an effective recycling system.

Also consider...

  • Learn more about ecoBiz, a free sustainability program for Queensland businesses that gives tailored advice through an on-site one-on-one coaching session, find out how your business can be more sustainable, including waste management, waste reduction and utility savings.
  • Email CircularEconomy@des.qld.gov.au for general enquiries about business waste management.
  • Check with your local council to find out what information and support they provide for businesses to reduce waste.
  • Find out how you can reduce food waste at your business.