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Types of waste

Whether it’s to complete the necessary paperwork, or to gain a better understanding of your business operations, learn more about types of commercial waste

Are you a small business owner who wants to understand the different types of waste management applicable for the different types of waste that your business might produce? You’re in the right place.

Waste — one word, but which encompasses a whole range of different materials, and in turn, disposal processes. Whether you want to learn more about which waste goes to landfill and which can be recycled, or you want to find out how to manage hazardous or inert waste, we’ll provide the information you need to know. We’ll also cover scrap, builders’ and green waste, as well as bulky items.

And if you’re wondering ‘can I use one provider for different types of waste management?’ or ‘will I need multiple collections?’, we’ll address these questions. Similarly, if cost is a key concern, we’ll offer insight into how much you expect to pay for commercial waste collections.

Types of waste:

How to manage different types of waste disposal

Hazardous waste

Hazardous waste is classified as any waste or substances contained in waste that could cause harm to either humans or the environment.

Some examples of hazardous waste include: asbestos, batteries and chemicals. Inedible oils and any containers that housed hazardous waste are also included in this category.

Note: if waste is classified as hazardous, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it immediately poses a threat to human health, although it can do.

One of the main pieces of environmental legislation which governs hazardous waste is The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005. It outlines what is and isn’t considered as hazardous waste and how it should be disposed of.

How should I manage hazardous waste?

Since 2004, it’s been illegal to mix hazardous and non-hazardous waste during the disposal process. The Waste Acceptance Criteria was introduced in 2005 to limit which types of waste can be sent to landfill.

Once waste has been classified as hazardous (which is those materials that have an asterisk (*) next to them on the waste codes information), you’ll need to keep it away from other non-hazardous waste.

You should use authorised businesses to dispose of hazardous waste, as well as complete and keep the necessary paperwork. Find out more about hazardous waste for producers and holders on the Gov.uk site.

How much does it cost to dispose of hazardous waste?

Hazardous waste can be considerably more expensive to dispose of than other types of waste management. It tends to be charged at a higher price than other materials due to the disposal process and because there aren’t as many disposal sites available.

Here we profile some typical collection costs for single hazardous items.

Quantity of waste Approximate price
1 commercial refrigerator £90
1 air-con unit £40
1 monitor/TV screen £2.50-£10

Some types of hazardous waste disposal, such as certain types of materials or general collections, tend to be priced individually by the collection company.

Who is the best company for managing hazardous waste?

With 85% coverage of UK postcodes, and a dedicated asbestos disposal service, Biffa is one of the best companies for managing hazardous waste. It can offer advice and also provides hazardous waste producer registration, if applicable.

However, as each business’ needs are different, it’s useful to compare quotes from a number of suppliers – simply complete the form at the top of the page.

Landfill waste

Landfill waste is the term given to the types of waste that can’t be disposed of in other ways. It can refer to waste that’s on the ground or buried underground.

Some examples of landfill waste include inert waste and food waste. Landfill waste can be produced from either domestic or commercial activity.

How should I manage landfill waste?

The waste hierarchy ranks different waste disposal methods based on what is best for the environment – landfill waste is at the bottom of this hierarchy.

Therefore, you should take steps to recover or reuse waste to stop it from being sent to landfill. Any waste that can’t be otherwise disposed of could then be processed at a landfill site.

How much does it cost to dispose of landfill waste?

In addition to the collection and disposal charges, landfill tax is applicable. There are two rates – lower or standard, and it’s charged by weight (per tonne). Visit the Gov.uk guide on landfill tax rates to learn more.

Quantity of waste Approximate price
Per tonne £17 – £27

Who is the best company for managing landfill waste?

Veolia is one of the most well-known waste management companies, and with 90% coverage and 48,000 bin lifts per day, it can dispose of waste at scale. Plus, it has treatment facilities throughout the country.

Inert waste

Inert waste is the term given to waste that’s produced from construction and demolition works, such as concrete, hardcore and rubble waste, as well as certain types of soil. Inert waste classification is based upon whether it will cause a reaction or pollution when it’s disposed of – inert waste is waste that won’t cause a reaction.

How should I manage inert waste?

Soil that is inert waste may need to be tested to meet the Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) to determine the type of landfill site it can be processed at. Alternatively, it may also be possible to recycle inert waste.

How much does it cost to dispose of inert waste?

For inert waste disposal costs, you’ll need to contact the providers to get quotes based on the specific loads. The collections are often priced per tonne or by the cubic yard, with a minimum charged based on a minimum weight amount. In the table below, we give an example of what you could expect to pay.

Quantity of waste Approximate price
Per tonne £70

Who is the best company for managing inert waste?

One recommendation is Derwen Group, a waste management company based in Wales. It specialises in inert waste recycling and its aggregate recycling plant facility was the first in Wales.

Yet, it’s wise to compare multiple options based upon your particular requirements, especially if your business is based in other parts of the country or if the inert waste can’t be recycled.

Scrap waste

Scrap waste can refer to a number of types of waste, including metal and other excess materials from the manufacturing process.

Examples of scrap waste include vehicles and their parts, as well as metal waste from construction sites.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act (2013) governs this type of disposal of this type of waste – scrap metal mustn’t be bought with cash.

How should I manage scrap waste?

First of all, scrap waste should be sorted. For example, scrap metal should be categorised into ferrous (magnetic) and non-ferrous (non-magnetic) metals.

You should also arrange it into hazardous and non-hazardous waste, if applicable. A licence may also be required. Some types of scrap metal may be recycled — learn more about scrap metal recycling.

How much does it cost to dispose of scrap waste?

The costs for disposing of scrap waste differ depending on the type of material it is. For example, ferrous and non-ferrous metals incur different charges, and in general, scrap waste is priced by the tonne or per kilogram.

Quantity of waste Approximate price (per tonne)
Heavy copper (non-ferrous) £3,600
Mixed brass (non-ferrous) £2,500
Light iron (ferrous) £90+

Who is the best company for managing scrap waste?

With multiple locations across the country, as well as international operations, Sims Metal Management could be an ideal choice for disposing of your business’ scrap metal. According to its website, it’s the leading metal recycler in the world.

However, as Sims Metal Management is such a big business, it might not be suitable for all small businesses so be sure to compare the options available to you.

Bulky items

Large items, like mattresses and furniture, as well as refrigerators and other white goods, are classified as bulky items. These are large objects that are disposed of separately to regular commercial waste, usually because they are difficult or heavy to lift.

How should I manage bulky items waste?

Bulky items tend to be disposed of as and when needed. When you need to dispose of such an item, arrange a special collection with your waste management company or your local council.

How much does it cost to dispose of bulky items waste?

Bulky item collections may be priced by the hour, the number of items or on an individual custom basis. These prices are based on average local council pricing.

Quantity of waste Approximate price
1 item £50+
6 items £75+
10 items £90+

Who is the best company for managing bulky items waste?

For bulky items, it’s recommended to use your local council commercial waste collection service.

However, as there are exceptions to what local councils can collect (such as if the items contain hazardous materials as well as being bulky), and as prices can differ considerably across the country, it can pay to review various providers before making a decision.

Builders’ waste

Most of the waste produced from construction or renovations works is known as builders’ waste, such as plaster, rubble and tiles. Some types of waste from building sites isn’t classed as builders’ waste – items like paint or chemicals, which are classified as hazardous waste instead.

How should I manage builders’ waste?

As builders’ waste refers to a wide range of materials (e.g. concrete and wood), it is bound by a number of different waste codes, as well as identifying which are hazardous and which are non-hazardous. You can learn more about how to classify different types of waste on the Gov.uk construction waste page.

How much does it cost to dispose of builders’ waste?

Builders’ waste costs are often determined by weight, whether in terms of how many bags it fills, by the truck load, or by measurement in tonnes or kilograms.

Quantity of waste Approximate price
1-2 tonnes £320+

Who is the best company for managing builders’ waste?

For builders’ waste clearance, Quick Wasters could be ideal, as it covers multiple postcodes throughout London and aims to recycle waste, as well as being able to collect from small or big construction sites.

Green waste

Green waste refers to grass, leaves, plants and other waste that’s produced from gardening or landscaping. The Environment Agency manages the green waste disposal guidelines and processes.

How should I manage green waste?

If you run a gardening business, you may want to transport the waste yourself to a private recycling site, providing you have the correct licence to carry waste. Alternatively, it’s possible to use a commercial collection service to dispose of the waste instead.

How much does it cost to dispose of green waste?

Green waste is usually priced per tonne, with a minimum charge often applicable. Plus, you may need to ensure that the waste is completely green-based materials before processing it.

Quantity of waste Approximate price
Per tonne £83

Who is the best company for managing green waste?

Like bulky items, it may be best to use your local council’s commercial waste collection service to dispose of green waste. However, if your business needs to dispose of this type of waste regularly, then you may prefer to use a waste management provider on an ongoing basis.

Therefore, you should compare providers to find the best service for your business – just fill in the form at the top of the page to compare quotes for commercial waste management.

Recyclable waste

Paper, cardboard, plastic – these are some examples of recyclable waste. This term refers to waste and materials that can be remade and/or used again.

How should I manage recyclable waste?

Depending on the type of recyclable waste you need to dispose of, you may need to clean and separate the items. Processing and disposing of one type of recyclable waste is known as single stream recycling, whereas combining recyclable materials is called mixed recycling. Read our article on business recycling to learn more.

How much does it cost to dispose of recyclable waste?

It can be cheaper to dispose of waste through recycling, as it doesn’t incur the charges that are applicable to landfill waste. It’s often charged per tonne, although it may also be based on other measurements, like the number of bags/sacks it fills.

Here we give an example of how much you could expect to pay for recycling cardboard in particular.

Quantity of waste Approximate price
Cardboard (per tonne) £70

Who is the best company for managing recyclable waste?

Recycling Lives offers multiple recycling services for different materials, including metal, cardboard, textiles and plastic. It’s an award-winning company, which operates across the country and promotes social good through its charitable processes.

For coffee cup recycling in particular, Veolia offers a specialist recycling service for these items, which are often difficult to recycle.

Next steps: Compare commercial waste quotes

At this point, you’ve learned more about the different types of waste management that your business may need to consider, including how to manage the process and how much it might cost. Plus, we’ve highlighted some of the best companies for each type of waste disposal.

For more detailed information, read our waste disposal prices and best waste management companies articles.

Or, to compare quotes for commercial waste management now, simply fill in the form at the top of the page.



Scarlett Cook attends and reports on many industry events for Startups.co.uk, particularly those relating to communication, equality and diversity in entrepreneurship.

Since joining the team in 2018, she has developed our telephone systems and business mobiles topics as well as ‘how to’ guides, with her work having been referenced by brands such as Hiscox. Previously, she has written for audiences across the UK, Australia and New Zealand.