Commercial Waste Collection: Everything You Need To Know

What is Commercial Waste Collection?

Commercial waste collection is a part of the waste management process. It is the physical pickup and transfer of waste produced by businesses to a place where it can be treated or disposed of.

As a business owner, it is your legal responsibility to ensure that all of the waste your company produces is handled, collected, and disposed of properly. It is, therefore, important that you fully understand commercial waste collection. That’s why this post includes everything you need to know.

Duty of Care Legislation

Your Duty of Care is your (as a business owner) legal responsibility to ensure that you produce, store, transport and dispose of your waste with as little harm to the environment as possible.

What most people assume is that once they have handed over their waste for collection that they are no longer responsible and that the burden no longer rests on them. However, your duty does not end when you hand over your waste. You have a duty to ensure that your commercial waste is dealt with correctly at all stages – even when you no longer have your waste on your premises.

That is why you must ensure that you pick a responsible and licenced commercial waste collection company to transport your business refuse. It is also important that you complete your waste transfer notes, which includes a full and accurate description of the waste and that you document them and keep them for a minimum of 2 years.

Household Waste VS Commercial Waste Collection


Household waste is typically segregated into 3, although sometimes 4, standardised coloured bins. Black/grey bins are for general and food waste. Blue is for recyclable paper and cardboard. Green is for cans and bottles. And brown is for recyclable food (for compost) and garden waste.

Each week these bins are filled and taken from where they are usually stored and placed on the curb of accessible roads for the local council to collect and transport in waste collection vehicles. After that, the people living in the household are no longer responsible for their waste and their duty of care ends.


Businesses have different waste collection needs and practices. They need different types of bins, different sizes, the bins need to be stored securely and how often they are emptied can vary greatly, all depending on a business’ needs.

Their bins are also not automatically collected by the local council and, instead, a business must choose a commercial waste collection service company to take away their refuse. A common problem for commercial waste collections is the fact that many businesses overfill their bins which can lead to rubbish being tipped onto the streets when the bin is emptied into the collection trucks. Furthermore, if the bin is overweight, the collection trucks may not be able to take the refuse at all that day.

The Impact of 2021 on Business Waste

Due to the coronavirus global pandemic continuing to plague the world throughout 2020 and now into 2021, businesses have endured significant disruptions to their operations and this has had a knock-on effect on their waste collections.

It is important that businesses are aware of when they are allowed to reopen, under what conditions, and whether their waste collection needs will be altered throughout the year. They will then need to act accordingly.

Types of Commercial Waste

Businesses have different purposes and produce different types of waste. A restaurant, for instance, will produce a lot of food waste but will likely not produce much clinical or dry mixed recyclable waste.

General Waste

General Waste, otherwise known as residual or trade waste, is common everyday rubbish that cannot be recycled. It is free of any hazardous chemical contamination.

Dry Mixed Recycling

Dry Mixed Recycling, otherwise known as Co-mingled Recycling, gives businesses the ability to embrace business recycling without needing to segregate their waste into separate bins.

Dry mixed commercial waste piled up

Paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, drinks cans, and food tins can all be mixed into one single container and the sorting process happens at a Materials Recovery Facility.

Glass Waste

Glass is one of the most widely recycled materials in the UK, it can be recycled indefinitely as it does not degrade during the process.

Food Waste

Food Waste is all the inedible and edible parts of food that is created before and after food processing, production, and consumption. But for larger food waste products such as larger animal bones discarded by butchers need to be put into an ‘animal-by-product‘ bin, separate from a food waste bin.

Food commercial waste collection

Clinical Waste

Clinical waste is waste produced which may pose a risk of infection. This can include, syringes blades, bandages, needles, swabs, dressings or any waste that may prove hazardous to public health. Services such as healthcare, dentists, beauty therapist and tattoo parlours all produce clinical waste.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is any waste product which poses risks to the environment and public health. Material that is considered as hazardous is known to or been tested to show one or more of the below dangerous traits:

Secure Document Shreddings

As a business, ensuring you do not suffer any disclosure or loss of confidential information is vital. You have a duty of care to protect all confidential information, including the information you hold on your employees and on third parties. You should, therefore, ensure that your documents are shredded either on-site or off-site.

Washroom Waste

Washroom waste is as you might expect. It is the residual waste found in toilet bins such as nappies and other sanitary toiletry products.

Business Waste Disposal

The commercial waste collected from businesses is transported to the appropriate waste treatment centre or to landfill. Depending on the type of waste, the waste will be treated in a different way.

The waste could be recycled, reused, incinerated to be made into energy, incinerated to dispose of it or buried at landfill.

You can read more about how business waste is disposed of once it is taken away from your business site on our Waste Management: The Ultimate 2020 Guide.

Best Business Waste Practices

To responsibly handle your waste you should do the following things:

  •  Conduct a waste audit to identify the type of waste and how much of it you produce
  • Contact a licenced commercial waste collection company to discuss your waste needs such as the type of waste handling you need collected and how often
  • That company will then recommend a service and bin size(s)
  • You will then enter into a contract with them
  • You must ensure that your waste is segregated and placed into the correct bin
  • You must ensure that these bins do not obstruct the public in any way and on the day of collection make it accessible to your commercial waste collection provider
  • You should ensure that your bins are not overfilled or overweight. If you find that you are consistently filling your bins you should conduct another waste audit and inform your commercial waste collection provider
  • You must also regularly clean your bin or pay someone to clean it

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