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The real cost of business waste

WRAP (the Waste Resources Action Programme, owned by the government), estimates that around a quarter of all waste produced in England is created by businesses. While the other three quarters, residential collections, are covered by council tax, there is no such solution for businesses across most of the country.

The price of dealing with this waste the proper way can surprise a lot of business owners, especially small business owners who aren’t experienced with it. In this article, we’ll give a general breakdown of what you’re paying for, warn you of some fees that may catch you off guard in the future, and even provide some tips on how to pay less!

How waste prices work

As you may already know, bins are valued by how much they can hold in litres, but collections are valued by weight. This may be confusing but there is a reason for this.

Originally the government liked the idea of charging based on value (ad valorem), as it would be easier to measure and enforce. As well as this, it’d deter people from dumping waste in landfill as it’s an expensive option. This was however, changed to weight per-tonne, as a value-based tax service would essentially scrap their environmental targets on the spot (companies may turn to the cheapest available sites, which have looser standards, or even fly-tip or burn their waste).

This is why there are now weight allowances on most business waste contracts, and why you may be paying more for things like food waste, which are generally heavier.

We get that it’s impossible to look at a bin and accurately guess the weight, but this method is the one with the least loopholes, so doesn’t look like ending any time soon. We recommend at least keeping an eye on how heavy your waste is for this reason.

The additional charges will be on top of your regular collection charges, so being over-allowance regularly can and will add up in price.

One saving grace, however, is that some waste is actually free! Paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, hard plastics, clothing, scrap metal and glass will never carry a fee.

What goes into my invoice?

If you’re looking at your invoice and scratching your head, here’s a few things that are driving up the price of your collections:

Time slots

Residential collections are easier to do for waste management companies, as they have a set route up the entire area, and if a bin isn’t on the path, it’s left behind. For commercial, it’s a little trickier. It isn’t just a case of “everyone in the city needs their bins taken out”, and so collections have to be carefully planned for the needs of every business. When you think there are 5.7 million businesses in the UK (MerchantSavvy 2018), all with special requests, on top of laws like Edinburgh council’s allocated time slots (bins have an hour window to be on the street, or else there are extra fines), it’s a bit less efficient than residential, and costs will reflect this.

The Duty of Care/waste transfer note

This is a legal document that proves businesses are dealing with their waste legally and correctly. There is usually a small admin fee that a business has to pay for the labour of these documents being completed, and if a business doesn’t possess a waste transfer note, they can face a hefty fine.

Gate/tipping fee

The gate fee (also known as a tipping fee) has to be paid every time waste is disposed. The price of this is determined by weight, and can add up to £6 per tonne. This helps the site’s operators run and maintain the site, and it may creep into your bill.

Small fees elsewhere

There are a lot of hidden fees that collection companies have to pay that are passed onto you. London is especially bad for this, as they have low emission zones scattered throughout the city. Congestion charges and bridge tolls are also common.

How do I save money on waste collections?

If your head is spinning from learning how much goes into the cost of your collections, don’t worry, it isn’t all bad. Here’s some tips on how to save on it:

Be careful of excess waste charges

We’re not asking you to weigh everything you throw out, but as we mentioned before, it does help to have a rough idea. Food waste and construction waste are the heaviest types, so keeping tabs on those two in particular could save you any fines. If you’re over your weight allowance regularly, getting more collections, a bigger bin, or even just trying not to “overfill” your bin will also help. Bigger bins and frequent collections do cost more, but nowhere near as much as an unbudgeted excess weight charge.

Are you recycling everything?

Not only does recycling help the planet, it also helps your wallet. Reusing things means they’re not going in your bin. As we said before, recyclable items are also free to get collected, so make sure there aren’t any in your general waste bin!

Conduct a waste audit

Knowing exactly what goes into your bin will also prevent you from being surprised come payment-day. Many providers give suggestions on how to deal with specific types of rubbish, and how you can reduce your numbers.

It’s a team effort

Everyone has a part to play in reducing wastage. If you’re the only one in on it, it’ll always be an uphill battle. Be sure to either train your team or simply remind them to not put things in the wrong bin, or to reuse plastic bottles/ not use plastic cutlery etc.

Come to us!

Here at BusinessCostComparison, we’ve successfully helped over 15,000 businesses across the UK save an average of 40% on their overall waste management costs!

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