Why your business should be recycling more

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We've all become aware of issues like sustainability in the last few years, accepting that there's a consequence to all of our wasteful actions instead of blindly abusing our natural resources. Nevertheless, anyone who works in a business environment will know that the amount of waste we produce is practically - and often literally - criminal.

One fact which seems to present the scale of our ‘rubbish' dilemma is highlighted by Adam Minter in his revealing book Junkyard Planet is that after agriculture, the junk trade is the second biggest employer on the planet.

A lot of modern waste goes wastefully to the tip or landfall sites, and a survey by Business Waste, revealed that 80 per cent of business don't care where their rubbish ends up. Fly-tipping is still common (and highly illegal) as are business employees posing as members of public at the tip (also illegal).

Businesses currently pay a punitive £72 tax for every ton of rubbish that goes to landfill, which indicates that the business community needs to realise how easy it can be to enhance the natural environment and save money. Scotland alone is paying £95m per year in landfill takes, driving the countries policy makers to produce a ‘Zero Waste Scotland' campaign.

Londoners produce an Olympic sized swimming pool's worth of rubbish every hour; most of which is burnt or goes to landfill. Nevertheless we must still acknowledge the steps we've made since the turn of the century when recycling rates were just 8 per cent; now the rate is around 25 per cent. These numbers have no doubt by the increasing ease and reward offered to consumers when choosing to recycle mobile phones and general technology devices.

We need to get rid of the view that junk just disappears into the ether, and this is where Adam Minter's aforementioned book is most enlightening. You'll notice how we can receive money for old mobile phones, but where exactly do they end up?

There are huge shipments of technological and electrical junk delivered to the developing world where low paid workers scavenge for precious scrap metals; this is the rawest form of recycling and we should be both disturbed and impressed by what goes on in these sites. The ability to identify precious metals from a heap of junk is what keeps the world's economy viable - especially in places like China.

In terms of sustainability, this kind of scavenging represents a better option than mining for more precious metals, producing more synthetic materials, or sending usable goods to landfill, but in terms of dangerous work and ethical practice it doesn't always seem ideal.

The best solution on a UK scale is to divide our rubbish into metal, plastic, glass, card and paper and to aim for a zero waste society as they are in Scotland. Being part of a business recycling programme is easy and cost effective. Simply differentiate your rubbish and find a contractor such as Exclusive Service to take it away.

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