Waste can be burnt, buried or recycled.
- Landfill means getting rid of rubbish by burying it on special sites. Most rubbish in the UK is disposed of this way. The advantage of this method is that it's easy and cheap (although businesses do have to pay special taxes on landfill waste). The disadvantages are that landfill sites produce large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas which causes global warming, and that the UK is rapidly running out of space to bury rubbish.
- Incineration is when waste is burnt. Many people think it's more environmentally friendly than landfill, because the gases released during burning can now be cleaned before they're released into the atmosphere (although some people are worried that the clean gas might still have negative effects on people's health). Other disadvantages are that incinerators are ugly (so people campaign against them being built) and there are still very few incinerators in the UK.
- Recycling is the most environmentally friendly way for businesses to get rid of waste. Not everything can be recycled, but a lot of stuff can - paper, glass, metals and plastic, for example. Businesses can also recycle resources used in the production process by cleaning them and then either using them again or releasing them back into the environment. Water is often recycled this way.
- Businesses can also try to reduce the amount of waste. Lean production techniques aim to reduce waste to an absolute bare minimum - mainly in order to reduce opportunity costs and increase productive efficiency. The benefits to society and the environment are a happy knock-on effect.
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Good waste management can increase efficiency and
Effective resource management will involve good waste management. It's in the interests of a business to minimise waste, since more waste means more costs per unit. These costs can take a number of forms:
- Financial costs. The most obvious cost involved in throwing away resources is the money that's been spent on purchasing them. Ensuring that the production process makes the most of every raw material used means that costs are minimised.
- Opportunity costs: The money that has paid for the wasted materials could have been used elsewhere in the business.
- Social costs: Waste has to be handled and managed and this imposes costs on society. For example, waste that's disposed of in landfill sites may be an eyesore to the local community.
- Environmental costs: These include air pollution from incinerating waste, water pollution from discharging it into rivers and groundwater pollution from burying it.
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