Household recycling schemes are now provided by most local authorities desperate to meet government targets and be seen to be acting responsibly. Now it's likely that small businesses, including c-stores, will come under increasing pressure to join the recycling revolution.
Future legislation, including the Landfill Directive, will make recycling less of an option and more of a necessity. You'll inevitably have some wastage which must be dealt with in a responsible way, but it's estimated that up to 80% of retail waste is made up of plastic and cardboard packaging.
Recycling development manager at Biffa Waste Services, Phil Conran, believes retailers should consider now whether they're doing all that they can to recycle. "Most local authorities are focusing their attention on households as that's the area they are being measured against at the moment, but this is going to change as the government increasingly looks at small businesses," he says.
"Retailers should start to think about what they can recycle in anticipation of any changes. While there are very few viable opportunities for retailers to recycle food waste at the moment, they can concentrate on plastic and cardboard packaging, which, once baled, has a value and can be collected."
Conran says that getting rid of cardboard and plastic will deal with most of the waste, but he recommends retailers also get used to separating other waste while more sophisticated collection systems are being developed.
He adds: "We understand there's sometimes a problem with space, but there are a number of solutions available from us and other providers. The problem has been creating cost-effective collecting systems, but this is slowly changing."
Environmental solutions company Mil-tek can provide c-store retailers with plastic and cardboard baling machines. The machines can either be purchased or rented on a weekly basis and have helped retailers deal with the problem of bulky waste at the same time as enabling them to do their bit for the environment.
Mil-tek director Bill Mathers explains: "Our balers cater for retailers of all sizes and a large number of c-stores are already benefiting from using them. Cardboard and plastic packaging is the main type of waste that retailers have to deal with and once this is baled they have a value to recycling companies. This means they will take the waste from the store for free. Larger stores which produce larger volumes of waste can actually receive payment for the material. Retailers can be sure the waste will be recycled."
Mathers also emphasises the need for retailers to act now when it comes to recycling. "The benefits for c-store retailers are cost-, space- and labour- saving, as well as a cleaner and tidier working environment, which is good for health and safety," he says.
"In just 12-24 months, cardboard will no longer be allowed to be dumped in landfill, so by installing a system now, retailers can ensure they are already complying with future legislation."
Mil-tek's balers can be rented from £20 a week, with smaller machines creating bales which can easily be sorted by hand. Mathers adds: "If any retailers are interested, we will make a site visit to look at the volumes of cardboard and plastic waste they are creating. We can then arrange a two-week trial. A lot of companies want to be seen to be recycling and c-stores should be no different."