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Waste minimisation around the world

Logistics can help the company achieve ISO 14001 certification

Waste minimisation around the world

Did you know that we dump 2.12 billion tons of waste per year globally? Thanks to growing populations and economies, this figure is predicted to grow by 70% as soon as 2050. So, what can we do to stop this number from continuing to rise?

One way that countries are already working to curb waste is by implementing two types of initiatives: ones that help maximise waste recovery, and ones that seek to minimise waste overall. We looked at which countries are faring well in the fight against municipal waste, and what learnings we can take from them.


Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. From eco packaging to plastic alternatives, we are collectively moving toward more products that can be recycled and more products that have been made from recyclable materials. Out of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries we explored, we found that Germany were the top recyclers, recycling almost half (49%) of their waste, followed by Slovenia (47%) and Belgium (33%).

Germany is embracing this lifestyle through many ways, and one of these is their Green Dot system. This makes manufacturers and retailers pay for a green packaging sticker to show that a fee has been paid to fund its recycling. The results are twofold: manufacturers cut down on the materials they use, and consumers are able to recycle the full product and its packaging.



It is said that almost half of the food waste in the average UK rubbish bin could be composted. This is the process of letting kitchen and garden waste decompose in a dedicated bin, and using it as fertiliser for plants. It not only saves money and resources, but also helps to improve the soil and reduces the impact on the environment. Looking at the five-year average, the composters that came out on top were Austria (32%), Netherlands (28%) and Switzerland (21%).

Austria’s impressive biowaste management comes from a combination of things. They boast high-quality home composting, separate collections where home composting is not possible, as well as on-farm or municipal composting plants.

Lithuania also has commendable composting performance, having increased their composting by 22% over the last five years. Just one of the ways they’re doing this is through waste management centres. In Lithuania, most private houses are provided with free composting boxes, as well as needing to follow strict guidance on how to separate food and kitchen waste.


Globally, we’re producing around 1.3 billion tons of landfill waste annually, with a projected increase to 2.2 billion tons by 2025 – with less places to put it, and more landing in our precious oceans every day.[2] The toxicity of landfills is bad for our health and the environment, which is why 23 out of 29 countries have been making reductions over the last five years.

Turkey (93%), Greece (83%) and Latvia (69%) were the worse culprits for sending municipal waste to landfill. One thing worth noting however, is that, while it’s now illegal to send non-recoverable materials overseas, it doesn’t always work like that. Many countries send recyclable waste to other countries because it’s cheap, reduces landfill, and ticks off their green goals. The problem? Unrecyclable materials are often found amongst the waste sent over, forcing other countries to add it to their own landfill statistics.



Incineration tends to be the lesser talked about disposal option. It’s a slightly more complex method in that some incineration techniques get rid of waste but do not recover it, whereas others can convert waste into the likes of ash, flue gas and heat. These are referred to as ‘incineration with energy’. Even then however, there are some consequences, including the emissions that are released into the air when energy is produced.

Sweden is a country that is using incineration with energy efficiently. Just over half of their waste is recovered in this way, thanks to their 35 waste-to-energy power plants around the country. This municipal waste works to provide both district heating and electricity to their 10 million residents. In fact, according to research, Sweden recovers more energy from each ton of waste than any other country![3]

What about waste production?

Ultimately, however, while positive recovery is an important part of our war on waste, we can’t get away from the fact that we need to produce less waste in the first place. A truly conscious country will not only be recovering a high proportion of their waste, but producing a low percentage of it, too. Why not read our full campaign on waste minimisation to find out which countries are proving themselves the shining star in both of these areas?

[1] https://www.recyclenow.com/reduce-waste/composting/why-compost

[2] https://steelysdrinkware.com/growing-global-landfill-crisis/

[3] https://smartcitysweden.com/focus-areas/climate-energy-environment/waste-to-energy/#:~:text=Incineration%20is%20a%20method%20ideally,waste%20than%20any%20other%20country.

10 ways to cut packaging waste in the warehouse

Cutting down packaging waste should be a key priority for anyone who works in a warehouse, whether that be administration staff, managers or those on the warehouse floor. Waste of materials is not only bad for the environment and profit margins, but also creates health and safety concerns.

Rajapack Warehouse

We work with businesses who face this challenge on a day to day basis. They’re looking at ways of making their operation more efficient, such as using different types of recyclable packaging materials and making their ordering processes more efficient.

Reasons to reduce packaging waste in the warehouse:

  • By cutting waste, you can save money and time, and make your business more efficient.
  • More and more customers are only buying from companies who have ‘green’ credentials. Waste that isn’t disposed of properly can be harmful to the environment.
  • Minimise days lost due to health and safety accidents and, look after your employees.

 Top 10 ways to reduce packaging waste in the warehouse:

1) Reuse rather than recycle

 Recyclable packaging is much better for the environment than non-recyclable packaging, but they still require processing and piles of recyclable products might be left lying around for long periods of time. Reusing materials for different purposes, such as using left-over cardboard boxes to house office equipment, helps to reduce waste and prevent the unnecessary purchase of products.

Waste Solutions
2) Use the appropriate type of material

 A lot of warehouse packaging waste is as a result of materials not being fit for purpose. Waste can occur when a product has been packaged in the incorrect material or incorrect sized packaging product. Companies such as Rajapack offer customers expert advice about the most appropriate types of packaging to use.

3) Give staff the proper training

On many occasions, waste is created or not disposed of properly because employees don’t know the processes that have been put in place. This could mean that administrative staff aren’t properly communicating with the warehouse operatives or it could be that staff haven’t been given the appropriate training. If you think you have the processes in place, make sure that your colleagues and employees are all reading from the same page. You can enrol your employees on specialist courses such as this one, from UCLAN.

4) Understand loose fill

How many times you receive a parcel at home where the packaging seems to be ten times bigger than required for the item inside. Sometimes, this is a necessity as a smaller box won’t properly protect the item however, on other occasions the wrong box or wrong loose fill has been used. Some loose fill packaging is more appropriate for certain types of item than others. Using the correct type of loose fill will better protect your product and help you to use the appropriate type of material.

5) Collect waste at regular intervals

 It may sound like common sense, but it is surprising how many companies only have daily collections of waste when 3 or 4 times a day would be more appropriate to create a safe working environment for your employees. Waste can build up throughout the day and it is can become a health hazard if it isn’t removed on a regular basis.

Rajapack6) Create partnerships with community projects

If removing waste material on a regular basis is becoming too time consuming, find out if there are any local charities or community projects who can use the left over material. Organisations such as animal shelters and kids clubs are often on the lookout for materials such as cardboard and may be willing to come and collect it from your organisation themselves.

7) Clearly mark packaging with pressure and weight limits.

 Giving proper guidance to staff about the amount of weight and pressure packaging can take will ensure less damaged packaging and less waste. It may be the case that the strength of box being used can actually hold more products or an employee could use a smaller box for an item.

Rajapack strapping8) Use stretch film

 When transporting products around the warehouse, you may be able to save packaging and energy by securing them together using stretch film rather than packing them in large boxes. Stretch film is easier to fit in bins and recycling containers.

9) Reward employees who are waste conscious.

 Even if you or your staff don’t think that much about your carbon footprint or how environmentally responsible you’re being, your customers do. Rewarding your employees for their eco-friendly efforts in your warehouse should be the same as giving shop floor workers reward for great customer service. They are going the extra mile to help your company, so reward them and encourage others to do the same.

10) Appoint a ‘waste champion’

 Waste champions will help to ensure that all colleagues are energized and enthusiastic about reducing waste in the warehouse. It will also give an individual an added sense of responsibility and job satisfaction.

One of Rajapack’s warehouse waste-champions is Simon Howes. We asked him why he thought having people in these kind of roles is so important:

“We currently have 2 champions on site. What we have found is that once you have championed someone, they are very quick to jump on anyone who doesn’t follow the rules, as they quite rightly should. Since implementation, it has taken a very short period of time for staff to take notice and work with the recycling process. My feeling is that it is very quickly becoming a normal working condition with more and more individuals becoming aware of the importance of waste management without having to put a lot of effort in.”

Cutting down waste in the warehouse will help you save money and the environment, as well as creating happy customers and employees. If you want more information from Rajapack about how make your packaging more efficient and eco-responsible, you can call our expert team now on 0800 542 4428 or take a look round our range of environmentally friendly packaging solutions online.

Circular Economy: The key to better waste management for your business

If you are a business owner, correct and proper waste management has never been so important. In the past, waste was seen as a necessary by-product of production, but it has now become one of the biggest global, economic, social and scientific challenges of all time.

Controlling both pre-production and post-production

For businesses, there are two areas of waste management that need to be looked at in order to have an impact on waste reduction:

Pre-production waste – this is produced before and during the production process, such as:

  • Over mining of resources
  • Products damaged in transportation
  • Unfinished products
  • Replacement of production machinery
  • Over production of products
  • Defected or faulty products 

Post-production waste – this is produced after the actual production, such as:

  • Packaging a product was sold in
  • Packaging used to transport goods
  • Used goods
  • Out of date technology
  • Waste produced by the use of product

Waste Management Triangle









The waste hierarchy (above) is one tool that’s been used to examine ways of reducing post-production waste. Through prevention and minimisation, the hierarchy has been effective in reducing post-production waste, but has proved to be costly. For many companies this costly approach has stopped them from using the system, and ultimately reducing their waste.

Prevention is the most favoured option as not only can it save businesses money, but it also is the easiest option in the long run. Disposal is the least favourite option because it can look less organised for a business and isn’t as much of a sustainable option as preventing waste.

It’s clear that a new approach is needed. Companies need to be able to reduce waste, but in an economical way.

Try creating a ‘Circular Economy’

The term ‘Circular Economy’ means an industrial economy that is designed to be restorative – i.e. many of the aspects of manufacturing that are thought of as waste, actually become thought of as a useable by-product.

The Circular Economy looks at materials in two categories: biological and technical. Each of these materials move through the system differently – biological materials re-enter the biosphere safely, whilst technical materials circulate in the system indefinitely without entering the biosphere. Take a look at the infographic below for an overview of this process.

The Circular Economy Infographic

The Circular Economy system results in very little landfill. By re-using, refurbishing, and recycling materials as commonplace, the cost of materials is also reduced.

We talked to Joshua Balmer – MSc at the University of Central Lancashire’s Centre of Waste Management about the advantages of a Circular Economy, he said:

“Disposal should be a last resort in most cases, particularly if you’re manufacturing. It isn’t always possible to avoid waste, but it’s becoming more commonplace to reintroduce what was previously thought of as waste back into your production process. There are always direct cost savings and environmental benefits to be found here and we are likely to see more used products becoming available as new through refurbishment. An example would be ball bearings:  they largely lose very little of their overall effectiveness during a product’s lifetime, but are then lost to waste when the product is disposed of.”

 The benefits of waste management systems

 The United Nations’ Environmental Programme ‘Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategies Moving from Challenges to Opportunities’ describes the benefits of a waste management system as:

Waste is not something that should be discarded or disposed of with no regard for future use. It can be a valuable resource if addressed correctly, through policy and practice. With rational and consistent waste management practices there is an opportunity to reap a range of benefits. Those benefits include:

 1. Economic – Improving economic efficiency through the means of resource use, treatment and disposal and creating markets for recyclable products can lead to efficient practices in the production and consumption of products and materials resulting in valuable materials being recovered for reuse and the potential for new jobs and new business opportunities.

 2. Social – By reducing adverse impacts on health by proper waste management practices, the resulting consequences are more appealing settlements. Better social advantages can lead to new sources of employment and potentially lifting communities out of poverty especially in some of the developing poorer countries and cities.

 3. Environmental – Reducing or eliminating adverse impacts on the environmental environment through reducing, reusing and recycling, and minimizing resource extraction can provide improved air and water quality and help in the reduction of greenhouse emissions.

 4. Inter-generational Equity – Following effective waste management practices can provide subsequent generations a more robust economy, a fairer and more inclusive society and a cleaner environment.

A Circular Economy is not only designed to accommodate every single one of these points, but it can reduce your business waste and your costs too. By implementing a Circular Economy system that focuses on reducing pre-production waste, you’ll cut post-production waste and so reduce your business’ impact on the environment while improving your bottom line.

Waste Management – what it means to Rajapack

Simon Howes (Head of Logistics) at Rajapack UK states: “The issue of waste recycling is at the forefront of government and local authority priorities, simply getting rid of waste in landfills is not good enough. Waste prevention is based on a simple concept. If you create less waste, you consume fewer resources and you will have to spend less effort (e.g. money, energy) to recycle or dispose of your waste”.

“Recycling is a noble task but definitely not so favourable amongst all employees.  In general, environmental issues have become more important to more people. You can tell in the last few years there is more natural concern over this topic with our own employees now openly asking questions. However, the initial education of a team to identify the different streams of waste and separating them is a task harder said than done and some will even ignore it after implementation. “

“Many people lack the knowledge of the impact this has on future generations. In addition many people won’t think too much of it until they feel the effects which will take some time. It must also be noted that there is still also a factor of “Cannot be bothered” or “It’s a minefield”. This simply is not the case, in reality how hard can it be to separate food, cardboard, plastic, tins etc. There is of course an initial outlay on the purchase of bins in order to separate and a call to a waste carrier should see you set well on your way. “

Simon went on to say that “Ignoring waste recycling potentially incurs loss”. “With cardboard and plastic rates at a high, there are obvious rewards for recycling waste”.

“At Rajapack we currently have two baling machines. One of which produces mill sized bales of cardboard and the second is a twin baler used for plastic (stretch wrap, plastic straps etc). Both are utilised pretty much all day and each operative is trained on the apparatus to comply with Health and Safety. All materials are separated on arrival and taken to the recycling area ready for baling.  Any other materials are collected throughout the day. “

Simon concludes “Ultimately, a total prevention of waste to zero will result in a society with no waste at all and thus waste management would be obsolete. In practice our societies are far away from a status of no waste and it is also evident that, in theory, a complete avoidance of waste is impossible.  Therefore we must all try to help; after all, you could be missing out on small or large rebates.  At the very least, you get the sense that you’re doing something to make a difference!”