As the world population grows, more and more resources are used to produce new products which are then consumed and thrown away after use. We are all aware that the waste generated by our massive consumption is a huge problem, one that requires immediate action from us all to undo the damage being caused to the environment. Recycling alone can not solve the issue for us: it requires a reduction in how much waste we produce which is directly linked to how much we consume.
To raise awareness about this issue – and hot on the trail of COP26 – there will be a European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) from 20-28 November 2021.
We would like to encourage organisations based in Westminster to join businesses and individuals across Europe and participate in activities that prevent waste creation. For information about how to get involved, either directly or indirectly, please visit the official European Week for Waste Reduction website.
Each year the EWWR focuses on a specific theme, with this year’s being “Circular Communities”. Changing from a ‘linear economy’ to a ‘circular economy’ is one of the challenges currently being tackled and is an area where we are all able to have a positive impact.
Changing to a circular economy
We have been living in a linear economy, where raw materials are turned into products just to be thrown out after use – with more raw materials then having to be used to create new products. This is a completely ineffective and damaging model to follow, which is why attention is being turned to circular communities.
In a circular economy, once raw materials have been used to create products, they are then reused or recycled after each use. This is a far more sustainable system, as materials can be used time and again, reducing the amount of raw materials that need to be produced using virgin resources.
Many individuals and businesses are already following the guidelines by reusing and recycling what they can, although there is still a large amount of non-recyclable or reusable waste that needs to be dealt with. Recycling is a great start, but for our economy to truly become circular, all of the products and materials we use need to be obtained sustainably, created more efficiently, and reused repeatedly.
The messaging behind EWWR sheds light on how we can all help to achieve this by following the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.
Reducing the amount of commercial waste created
The first and most important step is to cut down on the amount of waste your business creates. There are almost always areas that can be improved upon, whether that be ordering less from suppliers to avoid over-stocking, or removing unpopular items as options from your menu or shelves. Businesses can also work with suppliers to reduce waste on stock they do need to order. For example, suppliers can find alternatives to delivering items in shipping boxes and plastic packaging that can be difficult to recycle.
Once you’ve reduced where you can, you should replace all remaining single-use items with sustainable and reusable alternatives. This includes the small things, such as using metal cutlery instead of throwaway plastic cutlery, all the way up to larger-scale changes, like donating old furniture to charity.
Recycling is the final step once you have reduced and reused wherever possible. Recycling your waste is far better than allowing it to go for disposal, but this still means that waste is being generated in the first place. Reduction and reuse should certainly be the priorities for waste management in your business, but for any waste that you do create, recycling it properly will allow it to be turned back into usable materials or energy – closing the loop and helping to make a circular economy.
Take a look at our 9 Quick Tips to Reduce Waste and find out how your organisation can make a contribution to reducing waste.
Recycle with Westminster City Council to help close the loop
At Westminster City Council, we are committed to implementing waste management and recycling procedures that are beneficial to the environment and that can lead to a circular economy. We ensure that all business waste we collect from Westminster is turned into useful materials or energy for powering local homes and businesses.
For more information about exactly how we find another use for each kind of waste material, take a look at our waste treatment page here.
We offer a range of services that can help your business recycle waste efficiently.
To identify which of our services will benefit your business, we can provide a waste audit. One of our waste management experts will visit your premises to assess what is in your waste and how to reduce and recycle more of it. They will provide guidance on best practice, advice on waste reduction, and help you achieve any sustainability targets your business might have.From there, we can schedule regular collections of your recyclable materials, and will also be available for any ad hoc collections of specialist services, for example for batteries, coffee cups, hazardous waste or bulky waste,that are required, ensuring that your business is playing its part in reducing waste and closing the loop on a circular economy.
To find out more about recycling and how to improve your waste management, download our ultimate guide to recycling by clicking the link below.