B3.11 Waste Minimisation continued…


Once you know what waste is produced, you can focus your efforts on reducing this. Whether you start with the largest waste streams or with a ‘quick win’, is largely a matter of internal politics in your organisation. A combination of both might be effective. If you see a ‘quick win’, starting with that can show management quick savings and build support for the larger measures. Whilst many waste minimisation solutions may be free or low cost, some may require investment. Management support will be essential.

An example of a quick win may be illustrated in the following scenario:

Consider a laboratory using glass equipment (beakers and test tubes). Much of this glass equipment will be expensive.

Through looking at purchasing records you see that the lab purchases more glassware than they seem to have. Though discussions with the staff you discover that the glassware is washed by hand. The staff takes turns in washing up and are generally less than careful when doing so, which results in a lot of breakage.

You investigate the possibility of a dishwasher. This may cost £500 (a completely randomly chosen figure for the purposes of this illustration).

Through examining purchasing records, comparing these to what is in the laboratory and through checking the glass waste, you are able to estimate reasonably accurately that on average, 6 beakers and 3 flasks are broken each week. Purchasing records show that the replacement cost of these items is £60. Therefore the lab is wasting in the region £60 a week or £240 a month.

The installation of a dishwasher is £500. However, through reduced breakage it would have paid for itself in less than 3 months.

If you can establish the figures for a 6 month period (here we shall assume the above figures are accurate for that period) you may be able to demonstrate to Management that:

  • 6 months breakages result in a replacement cost of £1440.
  • A dishwasher will cost £500.
  • Savings in that 6 month period = £940.


It may not be impressive in terms of tonnage of waste reduced, but as a starting point you have proven that waste minimisation can save money. You may also have got the staff in the lab on board with your cause as they may be pleased they no longer have to wash up!

A source of waste paper in offices is often unsolicited faxes. These are often considered to be the junk mail of the fax machine. You can register your business (or personal) fax number to stop receiving these with the Fax Preference Service:


A guide to reducing waste was produced by Envirowise.


This guide is available free of charge from the Wrap website.

Please note that Envirowise is now part of WRAP.

From the 1st April 2010 WRAP became the single point of contact for businesses, local authorities and consumers, providing a single source of expertise for material resource efficiency guidance and support.

The Envirowise helpline and website continued to operate until June 2010, but from 1st  April 2010 the WRAP website http://www.wrap.org.uk/ was re-launched to enable people to access information on material resource efficiency previously provided through the Envirowise website.

Advice and support may also be accessed through the WRAP resource efficiency helpline on 0808 100 2040.