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Businesses in the Highlands and Islands ‘throw away’ over £50 million each year through poor waste management practices. This was the stark message to local business people at a seminar in Inverness in January. Almost 90 local business people attended, demonstrating the growing importance being attached to the issue. This in turn is increasing the pressure for more efficient and environmentally-friendly waste management techniques. According to government estimates small companies – those with less than ten seo service employees – spend an average of £3,000 annually on waste management.

This does not take into account the waste costs of larger companies, so the true figure for the whole of the Highlands and Islands business community is likely to be substantially higher than this, demonstrating the scale of the savings which could be made through improved waste management. At the moment Highlands and Islands businesses export products worth approximately £300 million a year. Much of this trade is built, and depends, on the area’s clean and unpolluted reputation – something which proper waste management would help maintain and improve.

The seminar was aimed at bringing the financial realities of poor waste management home to local business people. SEPA is working with a wide range of local organisations to produce a Highland Waste Plan as part of the national Strategy. For example, water consumption can be monitored, and water recycled, cutting down overall operating costs. Materials can be recycled and reused and energy costs reduced through identifying the most energy-consuming processes and switching off when not in use.

There is a growing recognition amongst businesses in the Highlands and Islands of the long term benefits to be gained from improved waste management. This strategy provides clear guidelines and a simple action plan for businesses wishing to reduce waste production. Waste is an economic reality and for business it literally means throwing away money.