Printing business waste reduction

Printing business packaging waste reduction


If your printing business has an annual turnover of more than £2 million and handles more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year, you must comply with certain packaging waste obligations.

Incoming packaging

Most manufacturers will take back the packaging on equipment for reuse and recycling. However, you may receive significant quantities of packaging materials from other suppliers.

There are various options for dealing with packaging waste:

  • contact your supplier to discuss your concerns about products which you think are excessively packaged
  • if you are a large-volume printer, talk to your supplier about returnable packaging
  • reuse the packaging for your outgoing printed products - tell your client your environmental objectives and the fact that this is reducing their costs

If you can't reuse the packaging waste your business produces on site, you may be able to find another organisation that can use it - see how to use your waste to boost profits.

You could also use a waste-exchange scheme to advertise your waste and make it available for use by others, either for sale or free collection. The exchange schemes cater for a wide range of materials and include difficult wastes that may not have recognised markets, brokers or dealers. You could use an internet search engine to look for a waste exchange near your business.

You can recycle cardboard boxes and they can usually be collected by a paper recycler. They may specify that the cardboard be separated from the paper.

Waste contractors may not be interested in collecting small volumes of waste, but there are a large number of sites that will accept deliveries.

Outgoing packaging

Remember that your clients will be facing the same problems as you do when dealing with waste, so consider:

  • offering returnable packaging or take-back of used packaging - only if it is your own - for key clients with frequent orders
  • ensuring that packaging levels are minimised and not excessive
  • avoiding using polystyrene chips - use cardboard inserts or balled paper instead, as this is readily recycled
  • using a paper-based wrapping tape rather than a plastic tape
  • using water-soluble adhesives for labels and tapes