What Does Waste Look Like Across Different UK Industries?

Waste Management: Different UK Industries?

Having an effective waste management strategy in place is vital for businesses operating across different industries in Britain — understanding that they have a duty of care to ensure efficient procedures are in place. Sometimes, it is something that eager entrepreneurs don’t consider when they’re setting up their own businesses.

With the help of Reconomy, who offer an unrivalled range of skip sizes across the UK, we look to find out what different businesses in different industries do to get rid of their waste and how much it is costing them as a whole in the UK.

One main aim for businesses across the country is to reduce any external costs. One way to reduce unnecessary costs is to have your waste effectively managed. This means working with a waste management company that can draw up a profile of your business and calculate the amount of waste your company generates – and creates a more reliable and bespoke collection routine that better meets your business needs.

The Waste Calculator: how much did Britain produce?

According to research, the commercial and industrial sector generated over 27 million tonnes of waste across Britain in 2014. 19.8 million tonnes from this was from England alone with 11.1 million tonnes coming from the commercial sector and 8.7 from the industrial. When looking to the UK entirely, we can see that the commercial sector produced 15.1 million tonnes and the industrial produced 12.6 million tonnes.

However, the same year saw the construction, demolition and excavation industry generate over 120 million tonnes of waste — showing a 10.6% increase on 2012 figures. This sector generated over 60% of the UKs total waste.

A 9% increase was seen for those working in agricultural fields in 2014 across the UK. In 2012, we saw 24.7 million tonnes of waste and then in 2016, 26.9 million tonnes.

In total, we found that the UK produced over 202 million tonnes of waste in 2014 — showing a clear increase (4.6%) on 2012 and it still seems to be on the rise.

The Restaurant and Pub Sector

According to a study released by WRAP, food waste costs £628 million (£3,500 per tonne) annually — however, this does include procurement, labour and waste management expenses. In relation to restaurants in the UK, we can see that 51% of waste is recycled, 65% of it being packaging.

After looking at the costing figures, we were keen to find out how much waste is actually produced in total — 915,400 tonnes, which 199,100 tonnes of it is accounted for by food waste.

Food chains and pubs across the UK produce 873,000 tonnes of waste each year which 173,000 of it is in fact food waste. We found out that 63% of this waste is recycled. The average pub can see a cost of £8,000 per year to get rid of food waste from their premises.


On food waste alone, hotels spend around £318 million (including procurement, labour and waste management expenses) which calculates to £4,000 per tonne. This sector produces around 289,700 tonnes of waste each year which 79,000 of it is food waste.


Surprisingly, it was found that the healthcare sector only recycles 7% of their waste — an astonishing figure when they try to encourage a healthier way of living. Food waste costs the healthcare sector £230 million each year – £1,900 per tonne.

According to the same source, 170,300 tonnes of waste is produced by this industry every year — 121,00 of it accounting as food waste.

Looking closely at the food waste issue

Are you a business in the UK that wants to reduce the amount of generated waste? Follow our simple steps:

Begin by separating your food waste and weighing the amounts to see how much you are disposing. Use three different bins to collect this data, waste for food preparation, spoilage and then the leftovers from your customers plates. Use the data you have collected and multiply this figure by the amount it costs per tonne and this will tell you how much it is costing your business each year.

For the industries discussed above, here are the estimates of where that food waste comes from:

  • Food preparation – 45%.
  • Spoilage – 21%.
  • Customer plates – 34%.

There are some key methods businesses can take to reduce generated waste. One problem that restaurants and cafes often shy away from addressing is the size of their menu; the bigger the menu, the more ingredients you buy – and the more that can be wasted. Take a step in the right direction by looking at your customer patterns – what are they ordering? From this, you will be able to remove the dishes that do not add value to your menu.

Something that a lot of food chains don’t consider in terms of food waste is portion size. Reducing the size of your meals even slightly is a simple step to take that could help reduce costs for your business.

Shopping for ingredients can be challenging, so remember to only purchase what you need. Don’t get sucked in by your supplier’s special offers—it’s only a good deal if you’ll actually use the produce. If not, it will end up going in the bin – costing your business more money in the long run. Buy long-lasting ingredients that are vital in your kitchen such as spices, and buy fresh food only as you need.

If you’re eager to prevent throwing food waste away, consider donating unwanted food to local homeless shelters. You could even donate leftovers to a local farm to feed their animals if appropriate. Both of these could be beneficial to you as a business as you will be reducing waste whilst helping the environment.

Are the government taking the right steps?

The UK has an aim to become a zero-waste economy, although waste will still be present in our everyday lives — products will be used to their full potential. This means we will have to be harder on how much we reduce, reuse and recycle and only ever throw things away as a last resort.

Companies across the UK have a duty of care to reduce the amount of waste they generate to help the governments zero-waste economy initiative. This includes keeping their waste to a minimum. They are also obliged to sort their waste out in the appropriate way and then store it correctly for when it leaves your businesses building. When this happens, you must complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that is removed from your location. Make sure that your chosen waste carrier is registered to dispose waste and if they are not, first and foremost you shouldn’t use them.  You then have a duty to report them to Crimestoppers as they will be dispose of your waste illegally and this can be damaging to the environment. By following the above advice, the UK can make a step in the right direction to achieve the goal they have to become a zero-waste economy.

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