Small to medium recycling

With all the focus on householders, small and medium enterprises have largely escaped the recycling radar. Leonie Butler finds out what help is available

This article was taken from Issue 77

In many ways, resource efficiency at small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has been an ad hoc affair, reliant on individuals in organisations who are keen ‘to do their bit’ – separating paper, turning off computers at the end of the day, that sort of thing. The fact is, though, SMEs make up 99 per cent of all UK businesses and over half of all jobs in the UK, so we’d all benefit if they were invested in the resource efficiency agenda. Yet getting SMEs on board can be a challenge in more ways than one. 

For a start, SMEs can be (and the clue is in the name here) small – in terms of employees, the volume of waste they produce and space. Setting aside enough physical space to store recyclables can be an unaffordable luxury when you’re paying per square metre. And the effort of keeping cardboard boxes until you have enough to make a bale can be a hassle. Likewise, sometimes cash flow just won’t allow efficiency improvements, even if they have a short payback time. A tie-in to a service provider for a whole building can also act as a barrier, as can simply not realising what options are out there. Those still keen to recycle, but who do not generate enough ‘trade waste’, often end up taking stuff home, thereby misusing the household recycling service.