UK SMEs set to throw away £470m in 2012 by sending waste to landfill

Report reveals SMEs waste £470m a year in landfill tax

In 2012, UK SMEs are forecast to throw away £470m in landfill tax by sending waste to landfill when they could be saving millions by recycling and becoming more sustainable.

Research carried out on behalf of Veolia Environmental Services by SQW found last year SMEs in the UK spent £430m on tax alone through sending waste to landfill instead of recycling or recovering it. By 2020 if recycling rates don’t improve this could amount to over £4.4 billion.

These new figures will ring alarm bells with struggling businesses, reflecting that the tax they pay to send waste to landfill will rise from £64 now to £80 per tonne in two years.

The impact of rising landfill taxes on SMEs individually, and as a whole, is as follows:

• A typical SME will spend an average of £335 in 2012 on tax by sending waste to landfill, rising to £358 for 2013
• This could total over £3,600 per SME being spent in tax over a decade (between £280 and £380 each year from now till the end of 2020)
• By the end of 2020, the total tax burden on SMEs deriving from landfill tax on C&I waste could amount to some £4.4 billion*

Jean-Dominique Mallet, Chief Executive Officer from Veolia Environmental Services commented: “These figures highlight where SMEs could be saving money when it comes to paying for waste disposal. Over the last three years nationwide access to recycling services has become a reality for SMEs. Now they need to start considering alternatives to landfill when they dispose of their waste and see it as a resource that can be recycled or recovered into energy.”

“We know keeping costs down is the priority for businesses in these tough economic times and sustainable recycling will help them to pay out less and turn their waste into a resource. I’d encourage SMEs to take us up on our offer of a free recycling audit today!”

David Moore, owner of the Abarbistro restaurant in Portsmouth, commented: “As a restaurant, managing our waste levels is a continual worry. Ensuring our staff embrace recycling is a challenge, but an important thing to get right as we save around £3,000 every year through recycling of food waste, bottles and other packaging.  In difficult economic times, it’s great that we can continue to cut back on costs for managing the restaurant’s waste, while being environmentally friendly.”

The research found that two-thirds of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste comes from small or medium sized firms (SMEs). The main sectors producing C&I waste are: retail (19%); food and drink (11%); chemicals and minerals (11%) and utilities (9%).

Veolia provides a number of services to help business reduce its waste at less of a cost to their bottom line.  The company provides a free, no-obligation site audit to show how to minimise waste production, what materials a business can recover and how to increase recycling participation, plus identify resale or reuse opportunities for recycled materials.  More information can be found at What Can I Recycle? and at