Waste reviews, policies and action plans

Conduct a waste review


The first step towards managing waste effectively is to carry out a waste review in your business. Consider the following:

  • Major sources of waste - can you reduce the amount of raw materials you use? For example, use less paper, chemicals or water.
  • Packaging - could you use less packaging on your products, or ask suppliers to reduce or collect their packaging? Could you work with your suppliers to use reusable or returnable packaging?
  • Premises - walk around and estimate the quantities and direct costs of your visible waste processes.
  • Processes and activities - examine these closely with the help of your staff. For example, ask each employee about how much paper they use - you may find letters are sent automatically when email could be used instead.
  • Defects and rework - are products going to waste or having to be reworked? This is a waste of energy, time and process capacity - invest in solving the issues.
  • Waste storage - have you got enough space to store waste inside your building or an enclosed outside area? You're legally responsible for ensuring your waste doesn't become litter or cause pollution.

If possible, work out the savings you stand to gain from the best ideas - this should include energy, time and any lost capacity or opportunities. Weigh these up against the potential costs and timescales of implementing the necessary changes.

Making sure that you comply with waste legislation is a key part of your waste review.

You could include your waste review as part of a wider environmental review of your business.