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Why waste pays dividends

11 September 2015

Making the most of waste doesn’t take much investment, but environmentally and economically it pays dividends, says Russell Bacon, portfolio director – environment, i2i Events Group

The waste and facilities management sectors have made significant advances towards sustainable business practices over recent years, proving that environmental gains and business growth go hand-in-hand. 


While the cleaning industry is developing technologies using fewer chemicals and less water and energy, waste managers are recycling more than ever – from paper and plastics to hazardous waste, textiles, electronic items and food. With European recycling targets set to increase over the coming years, partnerships between these two sectors will be ideally placed to deliver cost-effective and resource-efficient services.


The cleaning and waste management sectors have strong ties, and innovations in one industry often impact the other. The proliferation of recycling bins in offices and other workplaces, for example, means that both service providers need to be engaged in the others’ activities, with an appreciation of the needs of both cleaning staff and waste management contractors. 

Keeping it in the loop

Keeping materials in the loop is everyone’s responsibility. Recycling reduces our demand for raw materials, saves energy and water, and helps us move away from landfill. But for recycling systems to work effectively, materials need to be separated and stored properly. That’s why cleaning operatives have a uniquely important role in making society more sustainable. Cleaning teams are in the ideal position to notice contamination in bins and point it out to clients. 

Materials separated at source can be recycled into higher value products, so it’s worth developing a shared focus on the recovery of recyclable materials. From posters in janitorial cupboards to colour-coded bins and staff awareness-raising campaigns, there are endless opportunities to remind people about the benefits of recycling. 


Streets and public spaces

Opportunities to recycle "on the go" are also gaining traction with municipal authorities. Plain old rubbish bins are making way for split recycling containers that remind people to do the right thing and recycle their waste. The range of recycling bins available on the market has really blossomed, and it’s now possible to find the right bin for any situation or occasion. On-street recycling bins are making it easy for people to recycle on-the-go as well as in the workplace and at home.

Of course, not everybody will use a bin, no matter where it is. Litter continues to be a problem, blighting our streets, attracting vermin and causing a nuisance.

In order to tackle litter efficiently, councils are increasingly investing in sweepers and litter collectors as well as machines that specialise in gum and graffiti removal. While these machines make life easier, they do represent a significant investment of public funds and so it is important to make sure the right equipment is chosen for specific needs. Some councils have opted to share expensive equipment, whereas others lease the equipment meaning it can be upgraded or swapped for something else in the future.

Europe’s largest event for recycling 

Whether advising clients on the most appropriate recycling bins for their workplace, choosing on-street recycling bins for a local area or thinking of investing in street cleaning equipment, RWM 2015 will showcase all the options under one roof.

Taking place at the NEC in Birmingham, 15-17 September, RWM 2015 is Europe’s largest event for recycling and waste management. Organised by i2i Events Group in partnership with the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the event features 700 exhibitors with cleaning and recycling products and services. Over 13,000 visitors will be attending, including high-level decision makers and buyers. For more information visit www.rwmexhibition.com