Guide

Collecting and processing recycling materials

Maximising your income from recycled materials

For your recycling business to remain profitable over the long term, you should ensure you are fully maximising your recycling revenue streams.

Waste collection fees are always likely to exceed the revenue from the sale of recycled materials. However it is still worthwhile maximising the income from the materials you produce.

You can boost recycling revenue through collecting higher value clean materials by:

  • encouraging customers to separate clean office paper from cardboard and lower grade and contaminated papers
  • separating glass by colour in the hospitality sector
  • collecting plastic bottles, aluminium cans and steel tins

Where you are adding a recycling service to an existing general trade waste service, you should take care to avoid losing income from trade collections where the recycling service is cheaper. These losses will tend to be offset, however, by:

  • a decrease in waste disposal costs to landfill
  • the potential to generate energy from waste
  • additional income from material sales

Reducing recycling contamination

Contamination often involves food waste and other non-recyclable items. Where recycling collections are contaminated it will reduce your ability to sell the recovered materials.

Speak to managers and staff at the premises to explain that contaminated waste will not be collected. You can also use transparent sacks for bag collections and ask crews to check bins for contamination before they are loaded onto the vehicle. If contamination persists and can't easily be identified at the point of collection, you may have to levy a surcharge to recover your sorting and disposal costs and to deter repeated incidents.

Depending on the markets you have, you will need to be careful about contamination with regard to paper grades - for example under EN643, the European paper grading system - and specifications such as PAS 103 for plastic.