Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Reusing waste

Reusing waste

You may be able to reuse materials and equipment in your own business or another organisation may be able to reuse your waste.

Reusing your own business waste can reduce your costs as you won't need to buy raw materials or pay to dispose of the waste. You may also be able to generate income from materials and goods that are valuable to another organisation.


Reusing waste in your business

The goods and materials you can reuse will depend on your type of business. Office-based businesses, for example, can:

  • refill toner and ink-jet cartridges
  • use waste paper as notepaper
  • use durable cups, mugs, glasses and cutlery rather than disposable alternatives
  • reuse envelopes and other packaging
  • donate used equipment and furniture to charities
  • use greywater recycling systems for your toilets.

Manufacturing businesses, for example, may be able to reuse packaging and off-cuts, and capture waste heat generated by manufacturing processes for heating or reuse elsewhere in production.

You should speak to your staff and ask them to 'think before they throw' as someone else may want to use their waste.


Reuse by other organisations

You can offer waste materials, second-hand products, end-of-line products and obsolete equipment to other organisations which can use them without alteration.

You could try business-to-business online waste exchanges which trade a wide range of used industrial materials and equipment. You may also be able to sell goods and materials on online auction sites.

Scrapstores may take some of your waste materials such as fabrics, plastics, paper and card. They can make use of scrap material for children's play activities and this will save you recycling costs.

My Green Directory: Scrapstores

Some charities will collect your waste items at their expense. Some are licensed to take electrical and electronic goods. Schools may take unwanted computers, electrical equipment and materials. In Kind Direct collects mostly end-of-line and second-hand products on behalf of various charities and schools. The Furniture Re-use Network is the co-ordinating body for 400 recycling and reuse charities.

The reuse network

Websites such as Giving World Online connect businesses to charities and community projects that need donated goods and materials.

Giving World Online: Donations through a network of charities

Donating goods and materials to schools and charities can improve the image of your business and demonstrate your corporate social responsibility policy.


Comply with your waste responsibilities

You are responsible for making sure you comply with your waste responsibilities, such as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations.

Duty of Care - your waste responsibilities


The NIEA has produced a guidance that explains the reuse of materials, and when waste legislation does not apply.

NIEA: Regulatory Position Statement – Reuse of Material

SEPA has produced guidance on how the waste regulations apply to reuse of goods.

SEPA: Reuse Activities and Waste Regulation


Further information

In Kind Direct: Donating surplus goods to charity

The Reuse Network: Donating furniture and electrical goods

WRAP: Reusable materials information

Resource Efficient Scotland: Construction materials exchange

WRAPNI: Industrial Symbiosis (NISP Network)

In this guideline

Business benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling waste

Choosing a waste management option

Reducing waste

Reusing waste

Recycling waste

Treating and composting biodegradable waste

Recovering energy and producing fuel from waste

Disposing of waste

Separating and storing waste

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