There’s no denying that the future of business looks green - global attitudes towards the environment are increasingly focused on initiating more responsible practices. In Scotland especially, the introduction of the Circular Economy Bill by the Scottish Government proves there is a widespread desire for actionable change.

While more forward-thinking companies are making it a corporate responsibility to consider the environmental impact of their activities, many others continue to simply ‘toe the line’ to meet nominal legislative requirements and keep costs down.


There are ways to adopt green practices while cutting your business costs - the two are not mutually exclusive. Making the switch to greener systems can definitely save a business money and this is especially true of regulated areas such as waste management.

The cost of business waste disposal amounts to around 3% of a company’s turnover– that’s around £7,000 on average per annum, according to figures from Resource Efficient Scotland. While these figures don’t cause great alarm when compared with more sizable outgoings like corporation tax, the most shocking figures are to be found by taking a look inside the company bins.

Collectively, Scottish businesses create 3.5 million tonnes of commercial waste annually. In the past year Changeworks Recycling collected 12,000 tonnes of material, around 40% of which was general waste that could, and should, have been recycled!


These insights prove that our current waste management system is broken; it has become needlessly confusing with a widespread lack of clarity about what can and cannot be recycled.

When first rolled out, the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 were viewed with promise, presenting an exciting opportunity for Scotland to lead on responsible waste management by prioritising key recyclable materials (plastic, glass, paper, metals and card) and food waste.

Nearly ten years on, we find ourselves in a world where people think they are ‘doing recycling’ properly - so why then are we still wasting valuable resources on such a massive scale? It’s because staff across all levels of organisations cannot differentiate between low and high-quality recyclables. But this massive knowledge gap is not the fault of the workforce. It’s being fuelled by the commercial waste companies failing to deliver a fully compliant solution and it’s costing businesses more than it needs to.


So how do we fix the system? The solution is glaringly obvious – the more an organisation recycles, the more money it will save! Waste management has a cost associated with it, as well as the cost of carbon emissions. Effective, high-quality recycling reduces both of these things.

When it comes to choosing a waste management provider, organisations need to look beyond the face value of what is being offered. Some service providers will offer seemingly low-cost solutions but then charge for recyclable materials as waste – this is an unnecessary cost to the client, as the true cost of recycling that material would be much cheaper.

Suppliers collecting low-quality, mixed and contaminated materials - AKA ‘Dry Mixed Recycling (DMR)’ - are contributing to the mounting waste problem and continually fail to capture enough high-quality recyclables. Collecting this DMR is a waste of company time and money.

The only way to increase recyclables at the user end is to collect dry, clean, High-Quality Recyclables (HQR) and store them separately, before being collected by a reliable recycling firm that’s committed to optimising your waste management and recycling systems.

At Changeworks Recycling, we help businesses in Edinburgh and Glasgow to minimise waste, maximise recycling and keep costs down. Services are tailored to individual companies, taking into account any local laws or sectoral rules around waste management.

Some businesses will be affected by legislation that restricts the ability to present waste for collection on the street, risking fines for the business if not properly managed. A flexible provider will minimise risks like these by providing current best practice advice with regular client contact and support.

Changeworks Recycling works with all kinds of organisations, from law firms and restaurants to government bodies and charities, to minimise waste from the supply chain. We’ve helped some of Scotland’s most high-profile organisations created five figure savings on their waste management costs by scratching beneath the surface and making one small behavioural change. A low-cost provider simply ‘picks up the bins.’

While there is still much to be done to fix the current system, the good news is that the collective mindset is starting to shift. More staff are bringing the good habits they have adopted in their homes into the workplace which is driving interest in eco-friendly working practices.

As depressing as it is to have had the ban on sending biodegradable waste to landfill pushed back from 2021 to 2025, the introduction of the Circular Economy Bill brings new opportunities to influence attitudes and behaviours. The real onus on improving business waste management lies in the hands of the supplier. If we fail to get this right, we risk losing our greatest asset of all - our natural environment.


Scotland’s leading waste management firm, Changeworks Recycling, offers a range of services tailored to your business.  For more information visit or get in touch with the Changeworks Recycling team for a quote today, call 0800 694 0158 or email