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.

How to Help Employees Live a Low Waste Lifestyle

people-coffee-tea-meeting (1)
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.

A Decade of Waste

A Decade of Waste

It is no secret that landfill sites in the UK are fast running out of space. There will come a time when burying our rubbish won’t be an option.

While increasing recycling rates is important in tackling the problem, we must also pay more attention to reducing residual household waste.

We analysed a decade worth of data supplied by local authorities in England to see just how wasteful we really are.

Waste VS Recycling in England

From 2006-2016, England alone produced 237,581 thousand tonnes of household waste. As you can see from the graph below, 23,449 thousand tonnes of waste was produced per household in 2015-2016. While this amount is lower than the 25,775 recorded in in 2006-2007, residual household waste has increased since 2012-2013 when it was at its lowest.

Worryingly, the most recent data on recycling rates shows that levels have decreased since 2014. The latest overall recycling rate stands at 43%, a 0.7% decrease since 2014. However, rates have drastically improved by 12.91% since 2006.

The Most Wasteful Areas of England


We wanted to find out which region of the UK produced the most residual household waste per household. Using official data from the Office of National Statistics, we calculated the total residual household waste across a ten year period for each region.

most wasteful regions
North East England were the worst offenders, producing 6613 KG of waste per household over a decade. This was closely followed by the West Midlands with 6431 KG per household. East of England produced the least waste per household, with 5777 KG. East of England was closely followed by the South West, who disposed 5793 KG of waste during the same period.

How Green are England’s Cities?

We wanted to find out which cities in the UK are leading the way when it comes to reducing the amount of residual household waste. Latest figures show that Birmingham is the most wasteful city in England, producing 740 KG of waste per household. Southampton is another one of England’s biggest wasters with 690.4 KG generated in one year, closely followed by Coventry with 649.8 KG.

waste english cities

The Cities with the Best Recycling Rates

It’s England’s smaller cities that set the best example when it comes to recycling. With a recycling rate of 57.7%, Chester comes top of the table when it comes to reusing household waste. This is closely followed by Bath who recycles 52.6% of its household waste. In third place is Hull, who can also be proud of their 46.6% recycling rate.

When it comes to naming and shaming cities with the lowest recycling rate, Birmingham fares the worst. Despite contributing the most waste per household, Birmingham has the poorest recycling rate with 22.9%. Southampton, the second most wasteful city, also has the second lowest recycling rate with 27.2%. The third poorest recycling rate goes to Sheffield with 28.9%.


As an environmentally friendly company, this piece aims to raise awareness about waste and recycling levels in England. The open data which has been analysed has been provided by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is titled Local Authority Collected Waste Statistics. This analysis is inclusive of 10 years’ worth of statistics.  As Scotland, Wales and Ireland do not produce in-depth data that is comparable to England, they are not included in the study.