Guide to Reducing Waste

  • Guides

Whilst everyone would ideally aim for zero waste, sometimes it is inevitable. The Waste Hierarchy diagram below provides a sliding scale on the best ways to deal with waste, with the preferred option at the top of the scale and least preferred option at the bottom.

Improving your resource efficiency can reduce your carbon footprint, improve your environmental performance and enhance your corporate image. This all leads to better financial performance and keeps you competitive. Below are some quick and easy to implement low (or even zero!) cost options covering each stage of the Waste Hierarchy.


Prevention may seem difficult at first, but it is surprising what you can do without. For example, the costs and energy use of printers, scanners and other IT equipment can be saved if you sacrifice a small amount of convenience by sharing the equipment across departments.

Need to circulate reports, presentations or some statistics? If email won’t do, then try to print the minimum amount of copies and share them instead, rather than printing out a copy for each individual.

Communication is key for progress, when getting buy-in from the whole organisation will reap the biggest results. Sending round an internal e-newsletter and putting up posters acts as reminders until more eco-friendly practices become the norm.

Its not just internal operations that benefit from green thinking. Today, e-mail invoices are commonly used by many, saving needless use of paper, postage and the environmental impact of transportation.


Think twice before simply throwing away equipment and materials; could they be reused? Some printing is unavoidable, but you could easily reuse paper for internal communications if it has only been printed on one side. This also makes a great use for old paperwork and junk mail.

Often disregarded are printer ink cartridges, which can often be refilled at a cheaper cost of buying new ones, and also avoids disposal.

You may be on the cutting edge of technology, but think twice before disposing of ‘old’ computers and other technology. Schools and charities could benefit from your unloved equipment. Considering how you can you help your local community is a big part of Corporate Social Responsibility.


Aim to actively purchase items that use the minimum of packaging. You may be able to reuse it for your own use, but if not, try to ensure any packaging you do have can be recycled easily and locally. A quick phone call to suppliers could result in them revising their packaging for you, even going for a more environmentally friendly alternative.

To make collection easy and hassle free, place some paper recycling bins in your office. A general guide is one bin between six staff. If you share a building with other offices, why not get them involved too? Establishing a communication channel may provide further opportunities to reuse and recycle in other ways!


By following the above advice, the prevention of producing waste in the first place through careful purchasing and effective utilisation of materials can results in dramatic savings in your waste costs and a reduction to your organisation’s environmental impact.

For the materials you can’t use again, the Environmental Agency has links to licensed waste and recycle sites across the country.

Looking for more ideas?

We’ve created numerous guides on our Articles section, including the Eco Friendly Office Guide. If you’re looking for financial assistance, funding is available for a variety of initiatives, such as low interest or interest-free loans for energy projects and Enhanced Capital Allowances for water and energy projects.

Energy Saving Trust funding

Enhanced Capital Allowances

profile image of Neill Gatley
Written by Neill Gatley

EMS Scheme Manager - Experienced management systems Lead Auditor and EMS Scheme Leader. Assessing clients management systems to the requirements of ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 45001, OHSAS 18001.