Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland



Re-using, repairing and remanufacturing help to get maximum value from waste materials and products. Recycling retains less of the value of the product than the other options. However, recycling plays an important role in a circular economy.

Traditional recycling produces items that are of a lower value and quality than the original item or material - this may be known as ‘downcycling’.  A typical example of downcycling is plastic, which when recycled is turned into a lower grade plastic.

There is now a growing trend to ‘upcycle’, which means changing an unwanted or discarded item into something with a higher value and quality than the original item - for example upcycling shoe boxes into storage containers; turning a step ladder into a shelf; or painting a piece of furniture.

How recycling can benefit your business

  • prevents the waste of potentially useful materials
  • reduce our need for conventional waste disposal (landfill and incineration).


What you must do

If you produce, store, transport or dispose of your business waste, you must comply with Duty of Care for waste:

You must comply with special requirements for recycling certain wastes, such as:


Recycling good practice

It is now mandatory for businesses, to separate key materials for recycling collection and avoid cross cross contamination of recyclates - see 'what you must do' section, above. Good practice recycling guidelines target businesses' staff (so that they meet the business's obligations), customers and households.

  • Buy products that can be recycled. Only 7.5 per cent of all office waste, including paper, is recycled but 70 per cent could potentially be recycled.
  • Label containers and train your staff to separate waste into the different materials that can be recycled and into the non recyclable container, and avoid contamination of the different materials. A high quality of recyclate is required to enable more materials to be returned to the same use. 
  • Check the cost of recycling. Find out if your local authority provides recycling collections at low or no cost.
  • If you deliver waste services or rely on your customers to put waste material in collection
    containers within your premises see the guidance: SEPA: Encourage your customers to recycle
  • Generate income by selling high-quality recyclable materials, for example construction materials. There are an increasing number of uses for recycled materials. Check price information and quality specifications for a wide range of products. These can include compost, glass, metals, paper and board, plastics, textiles and wood: letsrecycle.com.


Further information

Find recycle services in your area. See, for example:

Attend an ’upcycling’ workshop: Upcycled World


In this Guideline

What is a circular economy?

Using fewer resources

Managing your waste for a circular economy - recycling and beyond

Designing your product, service or business model for a circular economy


Repairing goods

Remanufacturing and refurbishing


Protecting biodiversity and regenerating natural systems


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