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commercial waste bales of cardboard.

Commercial waste is the rubbish a business or organisation produces on its premises. This includes any waste from all kinds of commercial activity whether you run a shop, construction site, or even some charities. Common interchangeable terms for commercial waste are business waste or trade waste.

Laws and regulations cover the management of commercial waste as it differs from domestic waste – you can’t just put it in your bins at home or wait for the local council to collect it. Find out what commercial waste is and how to manage and dispose of it properly with Divert.

What is Commercial Waste?

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A definition of commercial waste

A simple definition of commercial waste is any solid or liquid waste produced by activities on premises primarily used for trade or business. The rubbish created by restaurants, offices, and factories are all types of commercial waste. It’s the opposite of domestic waste, which is rubbish generated in households.

The general commercial waste definition covers a wide range of rubbish types, organisations, and circumstances. This includes leftover food from diners in a café, packaging used for shipping goods to shops, and rubble left after a demolition job on a construction site. Simply put, if waste is created in a business or trade setting then it’s likely commercial waste.

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Commercial waste examples

Any rubbish a business generates is an example of commercial waste. It could be a crisp packet thrown away by a customer in a café or old wooden pallets used to deliver goods to a shop. Some commercial waste types are more common than others and need regular removal and disposal.

These are some common examples of commercial waste that many organisations produce:

  • General waste – food scraps, non-recyclable packaging, and any other non-hazardous rubbish that can’t be recycled, recovered, or reused.
  • Dry mixed recycling – paper, cardboard, metal drink cans and plastic bottles where there’s not enough volume to justify individual bins for each waste type.
  • Food waste – leftover food from customers (plate waste) and expired ingredients or inedible food from the kitchen of a café, restaurant, hotel, or pub.
  • Glass recycling – empty bottles of wine and beer in pubs, broken glassware in a restaurant, used glass jars containing ingredients from a commercial kitchen.
  • Garden waste – grass cuttings, hedge trimmings, dead flowers, and any other green waste from a commercial garden (such as a hotel, museum, or pub beer garden).
  • Construction waste – bricks, rubble, concrete, wood, and other waste materials from construction and demolition sites.
  • Electrical waste – broken and old waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) from a broken iron from a hotel guestroom to a faulty fridge, washing machine, or old computers in an office.
  • Sanitary waste – there should be sanitary bins in every business bathroom to collect such waste at the source.
  • Hazardous waste – any waste materials that are hazardous including cleaning chemicals, types of clinical waste, and used engine oil in a garage.
digger removing waste on construction site.

How much commercial waste 
do we produce?

It’s estimated that the UK produces around 40.4 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste every year, according to government figures. That’s over 13 million tonnes more than the amount of domestic waste UK households create. Around 84% of this commercial and industrial waste is produced in England.

The amount and types of waste produced by different industries vary across sectors. Construction, demolition, and excavation (CD&E) is the industry that creates the most commercial waste in the UK. Other big sources of commercial waste include the retail, pharmaceutical, and hospitality industries.

Responsibilities for managing commercial waste

Any organisation in England or Wales that produces, carries, keeps, disposes of, treats, imports or controls waste has a duty of care for it under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. For businesses, this essentially means you must store rubbish safely and arrange the removal of commercial waste by licensed waste carriers.

The local council won’t collect waste from businesses, unlike domestic waste. And you can’t take it to your nearest household waste recycling centre (HWRC). Only licensed waste carriers can legally transport commercial waste anyway. Unless your organisation employs any then you must use a third-party company to remove your waste responsibly.

When producing and managing commercial waste you also have a responsibility to follow the waste hierarchy. This involves taking steps to prevent, reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, and responsibly dispose of waste in that order. Auditing your commercial waste production and putting in place a plan to reduce and recycle where possible is vital.

bin outside shop on street.

How does disposing of 
business waste work?

Disposing of business waste must be done in a safe, legal, and responsible way to protect the environment and human health. Your organisation should conduct a waste audit and create a management plan. This should include the types and volumes of waste you produce, how it will be stored, and who is responsible for removing and disposing of it.

Use a range of bins to separate and store your commercial waste on-site. Wheelie bins, bags, and containers such as static front end loaders can all store various types and amounts of waste. Then arrange removal regularly by licensed waste carriers, such as Divert.

Your commercial waste will be collected and transported to a nearby waste management facility for disposal. Disposing of business waste can happen in various ways. Paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal should go to a recycling centre for sorting and processing where they’re turned into recycled materials and products.

Commercial food waste may be disposed of on industrial compost sites or sent to anaerobic digestion plants to create energy from waste. General waste from businesses may be incinerated and converted into energy while hazardous waste is often treated or incinerated for safe disposal. You should receive a duty of care or waste transfer note confirming the disposal method.

Arrange commercial waste collection with Divert

At Divert we provide commercial waste collection services to businesses across Yorkshire. Enjoy free bins to store and separate your business waste with no rental or delivery fees – you only pay for collection. All waste is diverted away from landfill to protect the environment and help your business go greener. Find a solution for commercial waste collection in the following locations:

Get a free quote for commercial waste collection whatever types and amounts of rubbish your organisation produces. Call 0333 444 0118 or contact us online for your free quote or to speak to one of our friendly and expert team about your business waste needs.

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