Navigating winter challenges: a sustainable approach to festive season waste

By Elliot Harrison-Holt, Waste Service Director, Everflow

As winter sets in, businesses face unique waste management challenges – something that does not lighten up during the festive season. Successfully navigating this period demands a thoughtful waste management strategy. Throughout winter, especially Christmas time, businesses generate a significant volume of waste. Therefore, it becomes crucial to understand how to manage this waste efficiently, creating a more effective disposal system in collaboration with the waste management industry.

The struggles of winter waste management
When waste freezes, it expands. This has the potential to damage waste bins and containers, making it difficult for waste to be collected. In addition, when frozen waste melts during warmer times of the day, resultant contamination is possible. This makes recycling more difficult. For example, in the case of mixed waste bins, different recyclable items may freeze together and make separation difficult/impossible for recycling purposes.

The holiday season compounds these challenges, often coinciding with staff shortages. If certain staff members are responsible for the segregation, collection, and overall waste management, failure to handle the logistics of this could result in delayed or missed collections. This can lead to stockpiled waste, creating trip hazards and causing premises to look untidy with the potential of foul odours. Moreover, in extreme weather conditions, snow can accumulate around bins and waste collection points, making it inaccessible for waste to be collected.

These challenges can be mitigated by ensuring there is extra room in all bins to allow for expansion, preventing overflowing so that they can be closed properly. Installing additional bins for the holiday period and conducting internal training on waste management can further enhance waste handling capabilities. Making sure to arrange clearing away snow build-up around bins is also helpful to ensure waste is collected in a timely manner.

The environmental impact of winter waste
The Christmas period sees a significant increase in waste generation. Lots more waste is generated during this time due to the heightened use of packaging, wrapping paper, food and drink wrapping, Christmas trees, and other decorative items. This surge places additional pressure on the waste management industry.

Around 40% of rubbish comes from materials like plastic, card, paper, glass, and other materials that can be recycled. However, challenges associated with recycling in the cold weather and increased consumption during Christmas elevate the risk of easily recyclable and reusable waste ending up in landfill. According to the World Bank, landfill waste is responsible for about 11% of global methane emissions, a figure expected to increase to about 70% by 2050.

How to make winter waste management sustainable?
To avoid environmental harm caused by tricky waste management in the colder seasons, businesses can take some precautionary and preparatory measures to ensure that supplies are being utilised optimally without creating unnecessary waste. Investing in a weather-resistant waste management infrastructure for your businesses could go a long way for efficient waste disposal and recycling.

If you are looking to start the new year with new office supplies, be it electronics, furniture, stationary, etc., check what you are throwing away, and consider what could be reused or put to better use by someone else. Make this festive season charitable and jollier by donating unwanted items to those in need. Items that are in pristine condition can also be resold to make some extra holiday revenue!

Contacting your local waste management company to understand better winter schedules and other disposal and recycling tips and tricks can be extremely handy. Alternatively, hiring an outsourced, flexible, contract-based waste management team could help ensure waste is collected promptly in winter months due to staff shortages.

Final Thoughts
Colder months pose challenges for businesses in waste management, impacting the local community and the environment. Implementing effective waste management strategies by taking a proactive approach and collaborating with waste disposal providers is important. So, too, is fostering a recycling culture. These are ways businesses can reduce unnecessary waste in landfill.

For more information about how businesses can manage their waste better, visit

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