Biffa report: Less than half of SMEs use a recycling service despite motivation to be sustainable

Waste management company Biffa has released data that shows SMEs are keen to be more sustainable but are struggling to make changes like recycling.

A survey of over 1000 small to medium-sized businesses in the UK revealed 59% of organisations asked feel sustainability is ‘very important’ to their business, while 27% said it was ‘quite important’ or ‘important’.

However, even though most feel this way, Biffa’s customer data suggests that just 47% use a recycling service as part of their waste management. Biffa says this means that most SMEs are potentially still using general waste bins for all their business waste.

In the last 20 years, the sector has evolved rapidly and being more sustainable with waste is a key focus for many businesses.

With less than half of all SME customers choosing recycling contracts, Biffa believes that UK businesses need more support around their waste management choices.

In the recent poll, the top reasons given for not recycling were:

  • No room for additional bins (17%)
  • Too expensive (17%)
  • Not knowing where to start (12%)
  • Not getting round to it (8%)
  • Too difficult to manage (6%)

“It’s a tough time for many businesses”

Biffa’s Chief Operating Officer Maxine Mayhew said, “While there’s lots of information out there about recycling for consumers and households, there’s not a great deal of helpful guidance for businesses. Myths like it’s too expensive or too complicated, can be easily set straight with some relevant business recycling advice.

“It’s a tough time for many businesses. Most people running day to day operations are having to do more with less and make difficult decisions about the future of their business. It’s understandable that improvements to waste management can slip down the to-do list.”

Despite the tough economic conditions, many SMEs are still expecting to grow over the coming three years, Biffa says. Its research suggests that 73% of these businesses are planning to add additional recycling bins to their waste management. 

Biffa’s Chief Operating Officer Maxine Mayhew said: “In the last 20 years, the sector has evolved rapidly and being more sustainable with waste is a key focus for many businesses. This change is set to accelerate as legislation such as Enhanced Producer Responsibility and Deposit Return Scheme improves the recyclability of packaging and changes how customers dispose of waste.

“This new level of accountability will impact more and more SMEs, so people making the decisions need to understand what it means to their business.”


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