employee recycling

Save Money: 4 Businesses Who Are Making a Profit from Recycling

businesses recycling

To most of us recycling means nothing more than splitting the plastics from the paper and the cardboard from the glass jars. To some though, recycling can be a huge business opportunity that is not only great for UK landfills, but is also a recipe for the self-made millionaire.

It is it any surprise though? With recycling estimated to be worth over £23 billion in the UK and the industry showing no signs of slowing its growth, recycling is the perfect, fertile grounds for business success. If you are inspired by the opportunities in recycling, find four of the UK’s most talented entrepreneurial stories below.

Jeremy Knight – A Brewtiful Idea

Can a ‘cup of jo’ really make you a millionaire? Well, that’s the hope of serial entrepreneur Jeremy Knight. After finding that the leftover coffee beans from his morning brew made an ideal, nutrient rich compost, Jeremy decided to invest heavily into his discovery – even going as far to open his own coffee shop to collect leftover bean waste.

Under the name Green Cup, Jeremy has seen huge success over the last five years. His compost is now widely available in a range of stores across the UK and his sister coffee shop brand, Red Cup, is a roaring success. The hope is that Knight will be able to take the Green Cup business plan worldwide and encourage larger competitors to stop sending bean waste to the landfill.

Paddy Green – Cutting out the Waste

Never underestimate the power of trying to save money. Or at least that’s the lesson we can take from the master joiner Paddy Green. Fed up with wasting quality timber in ‘cut offs’, Paddy decided to invest in a special wood heater that could be used to heat his factory.

While his self-sufficiency is to be admired, it was his next discovery that was truly impressive. Again, fed up with wasting five tonnes of sawdust each month, Green found he could make additional revenue if bought a machine to turn the sawdust waste into hardwood briquettes.

Today, Green is running several self-sufficient factories and has brought his briquettes to market under the successful Premier Eco-Fuels.

Sally Quinn – Changing the Tone of the Recycling Industry

When social worker Sally Quinn found out that the printer cartridges in her office were ‘too much effort’ for her local recycling company to process, it would be fair to say she had a brainwave. Working daily with the homeless and those in need, she decided to set up a non-profit named Green Connect. The mission was simple, give jobs to those in need and clean up the environment.

After a little research she found that the cartridges could be recycled into a plethora of useful, office items. Today, Quinn’s non-profit is manufacturing portfolios, ring binders and notepads, with all the profits going back to her employees and the wider community.

Erika Brown – Cropping to the Top

The clothing industry isn’t known for being environmentally friendly. In fact, in 2016, over 11 million tonnes of waste was attributed to clothing and textiles. With this number continuing to grow year on year, one talented entrepreneur has a plan to tackle the problem.

With a background in fashion, designer Erika Brown is no stranger to turning scraps of fabric into something beautiful. As part of her mission to ‘green the earth’, Brown has created a hugely popular handbag brand that only uses scraps of discarded clothing in the design. Intercepting a total 12 tonnes of scrap clothing so far, Brown hopes to successfully take her brand around the world in the coming years ahead.

6 Creative Ways to Start Recycling in Your Business

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Getting people to recycle is not an easy task. You can scare them with statistics, pressure them with guilt and even overload them with facts, but if people don’t feel motivated it’s unlikely they’ll act. So how do you get people to recycle, and especially in the workplace? Well, we believe that the only approach is through creativity. The type of creativity that makes it almost fun to recycle. Here are just a few of the creative ways we have found to work best.


Ok, so this may not be the most creative idea but, more often than not, the sole reason your employees don’t recycle is because they don’t understand what they should or shouldn’t be recycling. There is a bin for a paper, a bin for aluminium, a bin for food waste. It can all get a tad confusing.

Our first piece of advice is to adopt a simple and clear policy. Don’t make every item mandatory. Simply pick two easy to identify items like plastic and paper. Overtime, when the policy has become the norm, you can start to add other items and expand the policy.

Introduce a Green Team

Employees, especially when new to a business, love to be involved with a variety of projects. Capture this enthusiasm by implementing a ‘green team’. The job of the green team is to simply look for and introduce new policies that will improve the environmental impact of the business.

This is great way to involve junior members of staff with senior members and it can create a culture where colleagues work together to tackle recycling rather than management simply dictating a new policy.


Instead of demanding that your employees recycle, why don’t you incentivise the scheme? It all depends on the structure of your business, but we’ve found simply splitting the business into departments and offering prizes to the team who recycles the most rubbish is both effective and fun. You can obviously get far more creative, but it’s often best to start out simple and get more creative when you have the core of the team involved.

Reward System

While competitions are effective in the short term, a reward system is far more effective in the long term. The rewards don’t have to be expensive or outlandish either. Start thinking personalised notepads, personalised pens or an early home time to the team who meet their recycling goals for the month.

All you need is a special recycling bin for each department. Remember to inspect the bin at random intervals each month. The team who stick to the recycling policy should be rewarded. Alternatively, you can reward employees who actively promote recycling among their colleagues.

Remove Desk Bins

This may seem counter-intuitive but there is some solid logic behind removing bins from your employees’ desks. The logic is that people are lazy. If they can slip everything into one bin two feet away it’s unlikely they’ll walk over to your dedicated recycling point.

Simply by having one refuse point you will encourage employees to think about what they are throwing away and to take more care in their waste disposal.

Get Creative

If you think removing bins from desks is a step too far, think about how you can make recycling fun. One idea we love is to have each department decorate their bin in a competition. Introduce awards for the ‘most creative bin’ or for the department whose bin ‘most embraces recycling’.

It may seem a tad outlandish, but the more you can encourage enthusiasm and participation in the early days of your new policy, the more likely it is your employees will stick to the policy. Plus, the creative bins will act as a daily reminder of their environmental responsibilities.

How to Help Employees Live a Low Waste Lifestyle

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From rising sea levels to the swells of smog that often overwhelm our capital, it’s pretty obvious that we all need to clean up our act a little. At home most of us are recycling by now and I’m sure we’ve all noticed that turning off the lights is not only good for the environment but great for the bank balance too.

At work though, things are a little more complicated. With the stress of the modern work life it’s easy to forget the importance of reducing our waste. Yet for businesses the opportunities created by encouraging employees to live a low waste lifestyle are huge. Not only can you help employees reduce their environmental impact, but you can save money too. To help you encourage an environmental awareness approach to your business here are a few ways to help your employees live a low waste lifestyle.

Carpool Initiatives

To be environmentally aware it’s important your employees approach work with the right attitude. One successful initiative is carpooling. Hugely popular in America, carpooling involves asking employees to car share on their journey to work. The system is not only cost effective for the employee, but it can also help boost employee morale and engagement.

Cycle to Work Programs

In a similar vein to carpooling, cycle to work programs have not only proven to be great for employee motivation but are great for the environment too. Make it an easier option for employees by investing in bicycle locking facilities, showers and changing rooms.


It may sound obvious, but if your employees’ work can be done from home then it may be worth giving them the option. Not only is this great for helping with the work to life balance but it can save on general costs and cut down on the amount of waste in your business. Again, this is a difficult suggestion for every business to implement and it will depend purely on your business and the employee in question.

Alternative Work Schedules

Popular in Scandinavian countries, alternative work schedules involve allowing employees to choose to work longer hours, but fewer days. This, similar to telecommuting, cuts down on the amount of waste in your day to day business. It also means less cars on the road and happier employees.

Paper, Paper, Paper

When it comes to office waste, paper is the most common culprit. To an employee it can just be one sheet of wasted paper but, to you and your business, it can build into tens of thousands of pounds in overheads. Employ double sided printing, reuse paper that’s already printed on for internal documents and practice efficient copying. It all sounds quite simple, but the costs can add up.

Provide Filtered Water

It may not be as cool as the latest in branded bottled water but, in terms of costs, filtered drinking water is far more cost effective. It’s also less in plastic if you offer reusable water cups or bottles to employees too.

Make Sleep Mode Computer Policy

From the meetings that just never seem to end to the hour long lunch breaks, computers are frequently left unattended for hours at a time. Instead of leaving them to leech electricity, ask your IT department to set your computers to sleep mode when unattended for a set period of time. It may be a small inconvenience to employees, but the costs saved are worth it and far better for the environment.

Educate Employees

While to us the importance of tackling global warming, energy efficiency and recycling may be common knowledge, to others it may be something they simply don’t understand. Devote time to educating your employees by inviting speakers to share their insight. Employees will learn how they can become energy efficient in their day to day lives and you may also gain insight into how you can personally improve your energy habits.

First You Had The A Team, Now You Have a ‘Green Team’

Enlist the help of your employees by offering a reward scheme to those who join the ‘Green Team’. Not only is it a great way to implement schemes like recycling, but it is also a great way to reward employees who are dedicated and for new or junior employees to show their worth. Generally this is a great way to make your employees more enthusiastic while also implementing a culture that avoids waste.