Global Recycling Day: expert advice for dealing with each type of trade waste

recycling week

To mark Recycling Week 2022 (17-23 October), experts have shared their top bits of advice for tradespeople on how to dispose of each type of waste.

Research by IronmongeryDirect found that more than four in five (83%) UK tradespeople aren’t sure exactly which materials can and can’t be recycled, and almost nine in 10 (87%) aren’t confident about waste management regulations.

With this in mind, IronmongeryDirect partnered with William Hobbs, sustainability and recycling expert at MyJobQuote, and Pauline Marchant, Customer Service Administrator at iWaste, to provide expert advice on what to do with each type of work waste and the rules that you need to follow.

Which materials can and can’t be recycled?

Recyclable Non-recyclable
Cardboard Plastic bags
Plasterboard Polystyrene bubble wrap
Cables/WEEE waste Oils
Monitors Ceramics
Paper Ovenware
Scrap metal Lightbulbs
Garden waste  
Glass bottles and jars (green, clear, brown)  


Pauline explains further:

  • Cardboard – as heavy-duty paper, it can be easily recycled due to its fibres being previously processed from trees.
  • Plasterboard – it is possible to recover the gypsum from the plasterboard and recycle the component parts back into raw materials to help produce new plasterboard.
  • Cables/WEEE waste – these can be separated into components and the raw materials reused.
  • Monitors – the components can be removed and sent to a specialist glass processor. The glass and other elements can be separated and reused.
  • Paper – paper will be separated into different types and grades, before being washed to remove the ink and glue, and then be made into new products.
  • Scrap metal – it can be smelted down and reused.
  • Tyres – they can either be turned into tyre-derived fuel or fed into a shredder and be reused as rubber.

What should I do with each type of waste material?

William explains:

1) Hazardous waste

It has been illegal to mix hazardous and non-hazardous waste during the disposal process since 2004. Once the hazardous waste has been identified, it must be kept separate from non-hazardous waste. To dispose of hazardous materials, you should use authorised businesses and complete and keep all necessary paperwork. Examples of hazardous waste include oils and filters, fluorescent lightbulbs and tubes, oily rags, lithium batteries and paints.

2) Landfill waste

Inert and food waste are both included in landfill waste. Landfill waste can result from both domestic and commercial activity. To stop waste from being disposed of in a landfill, you should take steps to recover or reuse it. Any waste that cannot be disposed of in another way can be processed at a landfill.

3) Scrap waste

Scrap can refer to various wastes, including metal and other by-products of the manufacturing process. Scrap metal should be classified as magnetic or non-magnetic. If applicable, separate it into hazardous and non-hazardous waste. A permit may also be required.

4) Bulky waste

Bulky waste includes oversized items such as mattresses and furniture, refrigerators, and other white goods. Large objects are disposed of separately from regular commercial waste, as they are difficult to lift. Bulky items are typically discarded as needed. When you need to dispose of an item, decide with your waste management company or local council for a unique collection.

5) Other trade waste

Most construction or renovation waste, such as plaster, rubble, and tiles, is classed as builders’ waste. Because builders’ waste encompasses a wide range of materials, it is governed by a variety of waste codes, identifying which are hazardous and non-hazardous.

Which waste rules and regulations do I need to be aware of?

Waste carrier license

William states: “Anyone who collects waste from a client’s location must have an Environment Agency waste carrier licence. It is illegal to remove waste for customers without a licence, and fines of up to £5,000 are levied.

“Lower tier and upper tier waste carrier licences are available. If you are only removing your waste and not construction or demolition waste, you should register as a lower tier carrier. Upper tier is the most common and is used by anyone who removes other people’s waste, including construction and demolition waste.

“Soil, concrete, bricks, glass, wood, plasterboard, asbestos, metal, and plastics are standard construction and demolition waste components. Plumbers removing an old boiler and kitchen installers removing an old kitchen, for example, both require an upper tier licence.”

Waste disposal registration

Pauline says: “You should always ensure your waste disposal company is registered with the environment agency, has the correct insurances, provides you with waste transfer notes/duty of care note, can provide evidence of correct disposal and has separate arrangements for hazardous waste.”

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