Trade Waste Guide 2020

By 10 min read

Reducing, reusing and recycling trade waste will cut your costs and carbon footprint

Most businesses use an authorised company to manage their waste for them

Fill out the form above to receive free quotes from trade waste disposal companies


Waste is an inevitable by-product of any business’ day-to-day operations. From clothes manufacturers and demolition companies to hairdressers and local convenience stores, all businesses will produce some type of waste.

Understanding how to manage your business waste can be challenging, however. Not only are you faced with tough legislation and increasing pressure to reduce your environmental impact, but there are various waste management companies competing for your business and many with unclear pricing structures.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you get to grips with everything you need to know about trade waste.

To start collecting quotes from trade waste disposal companies, simply fill in this quick form and our suppliers will be in touch with you.

trade waste bins

What’s in This Guide to Trade Waste?

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What Is Trade Waste?

Trade waste – also known as business or commercial waste – refers to any rubbish produced by premises used wholly or mainly for the purposes of a business or trade, or for sport, recreation, entertainment or education. Basically, any waste that comes from commercial activity is classified as trade waste. This also includes:

• Waste you produce while working at private residential properties (e.g. if you run your business from home).

• Waste produced by labourers working at your business premises.


What Are the Different Types of Trade Waste?

Trade waste comes in many different forms, from metal scraps and cardboard boxes to plastic packaging and leftover plywood. Whatever your business, it will produce at least one type of waste. The 5 main types of trade waste are:

Demolition and Construction: this comes from all kinds of building materials, such as nails, concrete, bricks, copper wiring, wood, ceramic tiles, glass and paint.

Electronic and Electrical Equipment: this refers to discarded electrical items, including batteries, light bulbs, televisions, fridges, air conditioning units, power tools and motors.

Healthcare: this refers to any waste from medical, dental, veterinary or pharmaceutical care, practices, teaching or research. It includes things such as outer dressings, sanitary protection, medicines, syringes, bodily fluids and laboratory chemicals.

Packaging and Recyclables: this refers to waste such as cardboard, plastic, glass, wood, textiles and metal.

Vehicle and Oily Waste: this type of waste comes from vehicle maintenance and dismantling activities, and includes brake fluids, antifreeze, engine oil, airbags, car batteries and vehicle glass.


Trade waste can be hazardous or non-hazardous. Hazardous waste refers to any material that can have a harmful impact on human health or the environment. It includes items such as asbestos, oil, batteries, and infectious bodily waste. Unless your business is in a specific type of industry (e.g. pharmaceuticals), most or all of your business’ rubbish will be non-hazardous.




Waste management costs money, but not handling it properly can cost your business even more. This is why it’s so important that you get to grips with the waste legislation set out by the UK Government.

All businesses have a Duty of Care to ensure that any waste they produce is sorted, stored, transported and disposed of correctly. Failure to comply with regulations can mean that you’ll be heavily fined, or even face time behind bars.

Under the Duty of Care, your business must:

• Store waste in a safe and secure place

• Use suitable containers with lids that stop waste escaping

• Clearly label each container with the type of waste it contains

• Ensure different types of waste don’t contaminate each other

• Pass your waste onto a licensed waste carrier

• Complete a waste transfer note every time waste leaves your premises

• Make sure that your waste is disposed of at a licensed waste disposal facility


What Is a Licensed Waste Carrier?

All waste that leaves your business premises must be passed onto a licensed waste carrier. A licensed waste carrier will have purchased a permit from the Environment Agency (EA) that allows them to legally transport waste from one premises to another. You can verify that a person or organisation is a licensed waste carrier by checking the Waste Carriers Register on the EA website.


What Is a Waste Transfer Note?

A Waste Transfer Note (WTN) is a legal document that must be filled in every time waste is transferred from your business premises to a licensed waste carrier. It ensures that there is a clear, traceable path from where waste is produced to where it is disposed of. WTNs must include a description of the waste and how much it weighs, as well as how it is packaged or contained. You must keep a copy of all your WTNs for at least 2 years and be able to present them on demand to your environmental regulator or local council – so keep them safe!

Did You Know?

Certain types of waste fall under more stringent legislation due to the risk they pose to the environment and human health, including hazardous waste. If your business handles this type of waste, you’ll be required to comply with additional laws; this can make your business waste harder to manage.


For more information about waste legislation and how to manage your business waste, visit our waste disposal regulations page.




Trade Waste Management Cost

Waste management is not free; in fact, it’s estimated that it costs businesses up to 4% of their turnover every year, making waste one of the largest overhead costs a company will face.

Most businesses employ a waste management company to collect and dispose of their waste for them. This removes the hassle of you having to do it yourself and ensures that your waste is dealt with efficiently and correctly.

The table below gives you an idea of how much waste management companies charge to collect your business’ general waste once a week for a year. You will be charged additional costs on top of these including bin hire fees and a government levy on every tonne of waste that you send to a landfill site, known as the Landfill Tax.

Wheelie Bin Size


Annual Weekly Collection price (inc. VAT)

120 litre
2 to 3 sacks

£130 to £156

240 litre
3 to 5 sacks
£234 to £286
360 litre
5 to 7 sacks

£338 to £390

660 litre
10 to 12 sacks
£572 to £702
1,100 litre
15 to 20 sacks

£780 to £1,170


These prices are only for the collection of general, non-hazardous waste. Prices will vary depending on what type of waste you need collecting. Recyclables such as cardboard and glass typically cost less to collect than general waste, whereas hazardous and healthcare waste often cost more.

To get the full lowdown on how much it costs to dispose of your business waste, visit our guide to waste disposal prices.




Expert Picks: The Top Trade Waste Management Companies

There are lots of waste management companies now operating in the UK, so deciding which one to collect your business’ refuse can be confusing. This is where we can help. We’ve independently reviewed over 25 waste management companies – both big and small – to bring you a rundown of the top 5 that we believe offer the best value for money. You can see the results in the table below:


Key Benefit

Our Score

Business Waste
Supplies free wheelie bins to businesses

Clear cost-per-collection pricing with no hidden charges
FCC Environment
Answers 99.5% of phone calls within 1 minute

The Waste Company
Positive reviews from business customers
Dedicated account managers that provide advice and guidance


When choosing a waste management company for your business, you must make sure that it is compliant with the legal legislation we discussed above. We also recommend that you carry out a review of your waste management needs and what specific services you want, as this will ensure that you choose a waste disposal company that is right for your business. Some things to think about include:

• What type of waste do you produce?

• How often do you need your waste collecting?

• What size bin(s) do you need and how many?

• Do you want to reduce the amount of waste you send to landfill?

• Is getting a competitive price important to you?

• Do you value good-quality customer service?


You might be interested in: trade waste management companies.




Top Tips: How Your Business Can Reduce Its Waste

With over 27 million tonnes of commercial waste ending up in landfill every year – and the amount of available landfill space quickly running out – your business should be playing its part in reducing the amount of waste that is produced in the UK.

If you find that you’re unable to completely cut back on some specific types of waste that you generate, you should instead aim to reduce the amount of waste that you send to landfill by reusing or recycling as much of that rubbish as possible.

trade waste recycling

Reducing, reusing and recycling your business’ waste has many benefits, including:

• Saving you money by purchasing fewer unnecessary raw materials.

• Reducing your carbon footprint by taking less waste to landfill.

• Improving your reputation among clients and customers by demonstrating your environmental responsibility.

• Cutting down on costs associated with waste management, including waste collection fees and the Landfill Tax.

While reducing, reusing and recycling your business’ waste can seem like a huge task, breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps can make the job in hand more straightforward. The first step you should take is to conduct a waste audit. This will allow you to identify what waste your business produces and how much, and whether it can be reduced, reused or recycled.

The table below provides you with some simple tips on how you can reduce, reuse and recycle your business’ waste, depending on what type of industry you’re in:






Hire equipment that isn’t used frequently

Return pallets to suppliers

Use soil and hardcore as subsoil for landscaping

Take waste metal to scrap metal yards

Take leftover wood to recycling centres

Leisure & Tourism

Send newsletters electronically

Provide water from jugs/dispensers rather than from individual bottles

Use soap dispensers rather than individually wrapped bars/bottles

Place recycling bins in public spaces

Print menus or maps on recycled paper/card


Buy materials in bulk to cut down on packaging

Reuse palettes or containers

Take leftover materials to recycling plants

Compost food waste


Use glasses rather than disposable cups

Send memos, reports and manuals electronically

Use scrap paper for note-taking

Donate old office furniture to charities

Place waste paper bins next to printers and photocopiers


Only provide customers with plastic bags when requested

Don’t overstock products

Donate leftover produce to a food bank

Source products with packaging made from recyclable materials


If you want to get a bespoke trade waste management quote for your business, all you have to do is fill in this quick form by answering a few simple questions about your business and its waste management needs.

Fran Whittaker-Wood Editor

Fran is The Eco Experts’ resident solar panel and double glazing oracle She loves orangutans and is passionate about protecting the planet’s rainforests from the unsustainable production of palm oil. And minstrels.