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With the economic downturn being felt in all industries, the need to cut costs and manage resources more effectively is more important than ever, says Martin Hewitt, commercial director for Orwak.

We should be aware of reuse, reduce and recycle, but as commodity prices fall we should all be thinking in terms of recession-resistant recycling.

What was once a small and often accepted cost has grown as a result of environmental pressures, market dynamics and the landfill tax, which will continue to rise each year and by 2010 the cost would be double that of 2007 – GBP48 per tonne.

Every industry and profession produces waste; from retail to manufacturing and hospitals to hospitality and, as these pressures continue to escalate, waste is set to become a growing economic burden on all businesses.

Yet ‘smart’ businesses are identifying new ways of helping organisations better manage their waste.

Where budgets are tight, businesses need to stop seeing waste as an inevitable and ongoing cost and instead view their waste as a resource.

This change of mindset puts a new emphasis and focus on waste and immediately encourages better management.

Any cost savings made, whether in purchasing, energy efficiency or waste management, can have an immediate impact on a company’s profitability.

Waste management and recycling is one such area where simple steps can help an organisation dramatically reduce its waste-disposal costs.

Waste disposal is estimated to account for up to three per cent of a company’s total turnover.

Paper, cardboard and plastics may not have the same value as in early 2008 but prices have improved in recent months.

Hewitt advises businesses to work closely with waste-management companies.

From tyres to kitchen waste, oily rags to batteries, new technologies and new uses for waste are emerging all the time.

While these may not always be revenue generating, new treatment and disposal options may offer considerable savings against landfill or incineration.

Businesses need to recognise that recyclers want high-grade, segregated and clean material.

For example, you could dramatically improve your chances of selling your paper by further segregating it into good quality, white office paper, newspaper and packaging material.

It may be worthwhile looking at your operation to see if there are ways in which you can improve the quality of your recycling material.

Whether this be segregating plastic shrink wrap from plastic drinks bottles or identifying ways in which you can reduce any contamination of waste.

These steps will make it much easier to sell on recyclables and improve the rate you get for them.

A baler can help you to make your recyclable waste a more attractive proposition.

Baled waste, particularly mill-sized bales, are simple for recyclers to handle and forward on.

As a general rule, you should be aiming to reduce whatever material you can from the general waste stream and the best strategy is to not generate this waste.

However, most accept that the ideal of a ‘zero landfill company’ is still unrealistic for most organisations.

Companies can, however, ensure that the general waste is handled as cost effectively as possible, making sure that they have the right bins and the right collection frequency to suit their site.

In addition, a general waste compactor can help to actively reduce these collections and significantly reduce waste costs.

Investing in waste handling equipment such as balers, compactors and shredders, could prove to be a sound investment.

With waste-disposal costs increasing every year and the latest landfill tax increase having hit in April, such equipment will be invaluable; yet this needn’t be a capital outlay.

Many larger equipment suppliers offer an all-inclusive rental price.

Equipment suppliers and recyclers can give advice to help customers find a tailor-made solution.

A good waste management policy will be specific to each company and consider all the factors that affect and suit individual business needs, whatever the economic climate.

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