Waste Management in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): compliance with Duty of Care and implications for the Circular Economy

Ryan Woodard

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    It is estimated 30.8 million tonnes of waste is generated by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in England, more than is generated by households. Despite this there is surprisingly limited research nationally and internationally on the management of waste from SMEs. In England businesses have a Duty of Care to ensure that their waste is managed in a responsible way and it is illegal for them to household waste services. This paper presents the results from semi structured interviews and site visits with 100 SMEs to assess levels of compliance with Duty of Care. It also presents the results of analysing 3.8 tonnes of household waste to identify levels of waste from SMEs illegally entering the household stream. The author believes this is the first study which attempts to estimate levels of business waste abuse of household services through undertaking waste composition analysis. With policy makers increasingly focusing on the Circular Economy the research is the first to estimate levels of resource leakage of recyclable and biowaste from SMEs into the household waste stream. 25% of SMEs interviewed were found to be illegally using household services for their waste, and 38% for their recycling. Waste composition analysis
    of household waste found that 6% of the waste sampled was from SMEs and that 77% of this waste was biowaste or dry recyclable materials that could have been diverted from disposal through recycling programmes. The paper considers the implications of these findings and presents recommendations to improve the management of the SME waste stream.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number123770
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2020


    • commercial & industrial waste
    • circular economy
    • SMEs
    • waste policy
    • recycling
    • Circular economy
    • Commercial & industrial waste
    • Waste policy
    • Recycling


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