Bins: The Basics

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Waste management systems, both inside and out, often tend to evolve over time. This can be based on the staff involved, the waste collectors used and the space available.

As with any service within your business, reviewing your waste management system is a good practice to be done every few years. Your waste management area may no longer be fit for purpose and, if there isn't a direct link between the inside and outside waste management practices, then you could be losing money on excessive waste costs.

Staff turnover and a lack of training on waste management are another thing that impacts waste costs.

In this section, we bring you through some of the examples that we have encountered through Savour Food and hope to show you some simple areas where changes can be made to the benefit of your waste management costs.

The yard

Waste management areas are typically out the back of a business and, with anything that is out of sight, they can be out of mind. Waste management areas can easily become very disorganised with the bins returned to different locations after each waste collection.

A well laid out waste management yard, with bin signs on the wall (or on the ground) will ensure the bins are consistently in the right spot. This will minimise any confusion for the staff using them.

Different coloured bins

Commonly, waste management systems become confusing when different coloured bins, with different bin signs, are used. If this differs to what people use in their homes, it can be very confusing.

Make it easy for whoever takes out the bins to know what goes where and ask your current waste collector to give you a consistent set of bins for your general waste, recyclables and food waste.


Clear signage helps a lot.

Clear signage on all bins, and on the walls behind the bins, will make it easier for everyone to dispose of waste correctly. This reduces mistakes, saves staff time and can reduce your waste bills.

Free bin signs can be downloaded from

Colour of bin bags

Black sacks make the contents of a bin invisible from outside and this can cause confusion.

Ideally, semi-transparent bin bags in two different colours makes the waste visible and make it possible to distinguish between general waste and mixed dry recycling.

Staff training

As not every establishment has the same system, ensure that all new staff are properly trained in the system from day one and all staff are alerted to any changes put in place.

Training and re-training staff in waste management will benefit your business. It saves money and can avoid unnecessary confusion or frustration.

Waste management inside

Putting all your waste in one bin is the most expensive way to manage waste and does not meet with waste management regulations. Ideally there should be facilities for at least 3 waste streams, one for food waste, one for mixed recyclables and one for general waste. Segregating waste like this should reduce your costs.

The best waste management system will depend on the kitchen in question. The biggest issue in kitchens is the mismanagement of food waste. Smaller bins/caddies in the right place may work well. It’s all about creating a system that is easy and convenient for staff to segregate and dispose of waste correctly.


Waste characterisation data shows that the average commercial general waste bin is composed of 25% food waste while the average recycling bin contains 5% food.

Food waste in the wrong waste stream can contaminate other materials that may otherwise be recycled.

A quick Quiz

Test your knowledge of waste management
1 Which bin does used clean aluminium foil go into?
2 Dirty aluminium foil can go into the recycling bin.
3 Which bin do hard plastics go into?
4 It is not necessary to clean hard plastics before putting them in the recycling bin.
5 Which bin do coffee cups go into?
6 Clear bin signage has been proven to increase correct disposal of waste.
7 Having your bins in a good location can encourage correct disposal of waste.

Thank you

Congratulations on completing this assessment. You've taken the first steps towards reducing your food waste! Please download the PDF below for more tips on managing your food waste.

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