A guide to bins and waste management

It’s a dirty job, and actually quite important to do it right!

Choosing the best bin and waste options for your business makes daily work more productive and can make it more pleasant and safe for staff as well as improving efficiency, reducing costs and ensuring you meet important health and hygiene regulations and improve the sustainability of your business.

Here’s a guide to choosing the right bins and waste options to suit your needs and budget.

These three questions need to be considered for each kind of bin or waste option you need in different areas of your business.

  • What type of bin do you need?

  • What material should bins and waste storage be made of?

  • What size do you need and how many?

As a first step, you’ll need a clear idea of what kind of waste your business produces and how much and how quickly this waste is produced. You can find a step by step guide to carrying out a waste audit here.

Make a note of:

  • What kinds of waste are produced

  • How much is produced per collection period (e.g. weekly or fortnightly)

  • What kinds of waste are generated in different areas and whether they are being put into the correct bins.

  • Who is collecting the waste and how -- can the collector manage to move the waste from a larger bin or do you need to make sure the bin is smaller so the person who disposes of the waste can carry it safely?

This process in itself can help you save money as you can identify, for example, if you are wasting too much of a particular kind of food or if you have a lot of paper waste, replacing, fixing or regular servicing of a photocopier or printer or devising paperless systems can mean you save on the waste you are producing.

Once you have a note of the main categories of waste you produce and how much, you can re-examine the bins you have and what you need.

Types of bins:

Smaller indoor bins (for kitchens and offices)

  • Pedal bins - Pedal bins allow hands-free waste disposal which is hygienic and reduces the risk of cross-contamination of bacteria - particularly important in food prep areas, clinical spaces and bathrooms. The foot pedal is also useful if staff need to dispose of larger amounts of waste which need both hands to carry and the lid helps to minimise odours.

  • Swing bins - Swing bins close automatically, are usually pretty simple and hard to break and lower in price than other kinds of bins. This swing top can also be detached and cleaned more easily than other kinds of bins. However, because they need to be touched by hand, these are better for offices and areas such as reception rather than kitchens or bathrooms where there is a higher risk of transferring bacteria. It’s a good idea to provide handwashing facilities nearby so staff can clean their hands after touching the lid.

  • Bullet bins - basically these bins are designed to look good, with small openings that you can open by touch, push, rolling the lid. They are good for public areas but complex opening mechanisms, small size and the need to touch the lid mean they’re not ideal for areas where there is lots of waste or risk of cross-contamination.