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The waste management world is broken down into the commercial waste, household waste, construction waste and hazardous waste sectors, all of which have different approaches when dealing with the specifics of waste management; for example electronic waste recycling in the commercial waste world will be different to recycling construction waste from skip hire services which is very different to treating waste from a house clearance in the household waste sector, however they essentially all follow the same process.
All waste management follows the following journey:
1. Waste production
2. Waste removal or waste clearance
3. Waste treatment or could be called waste disposal, which is the sorting and separation of the waste into separate waste streams such as:
- Shredding confidential documents and sending the wastepaper for paper recycling
- Putting bricks through a concrete shredder
- Data wiping hard-drives as part of the computer recycling process
- Breaking down, separating, and storing the components as part of laptop recycling
- Refurbishing furniture from a house clearance
- Sorting the hazardous waste from the commercial waste from a fly tip clearance
4. Waste recycling or reuse
The list of ways waste removal and management companies can treat waste is endless, this is mainly due the different types of waste streams and amounts of these waste types. This requires a range of different waste companies to carry out their specialised processes aligned to their specialised waste streams. There are many challenges with maximising the environmental performance of the waste management world whether we try to increase recycling rates or try to send more waste through a reuse process, they include but are not limited to:
1. The waste industry does not operate at the beginning of the waste hierarchy, so we come in after the process has begun. See below some typical examples to illustrate these challenges:
Example 1: An office requiring commercial rubbish removal of dry recyclables
The waste process starts when the people within that office are throwing waste into bins, which is totally away from any waste contractor. The main point to consider here is how segregated are the waste streams such as plastic, paper, electronic waste and hazardous waste from each other? Does the office have a thought through waste bin set up? Where you have different bins or storage areas for different waste streams, for example electronic waste storage area, confidential document destruction bags, paper recycling bin or hazardous waste containers? Also how well are the people of that office being educated on what waste should go where?
Example 2: A construction company requiring skip hire services as waste removal
The construction waste process begins when the construction work is being done either by stripping out an office or demolishing a building the waste segregation should happen on site prior to the construction waste clearance company being involved. So separate piles or specific wheelie bins of wood waste versus hard core versus metal waste etc should be deployed on site to assist in the construction waste recycling process.
In an ideal world waste removal companies would come to clear waste streams that have already been separated and contained, making the waste recycling process a lot easier, however this is not always possible when operating in confined spaces as most do in major cities such as London and due to this the waste clearance company must also adopt and follow similar protocols when separating waste and they do this either on the truck (which if already segregated makes sense) or at their waste disposal facility.
The truth is it is the responsibility of all of us to do what we can regarding waste removal and waste disposal, we all make up the waste hierarchy and play an important role within it. If we want to improve the impact we have on our environment then we need to educate ourselves on our role in waste management and the waste we produce as well as what professional and legal waste clearance is about, simply supply follows demand.