Waste Segregation: On-Site Vs Off-Site


Discussing the pros and cons of on-site segregation versus off-site segregation

We all know just how important it is to ensure that as much waste as possible is diverted away from landfill via alternatives routes such as recycling, but can this be achieved better on-site or off-site? The discussion rumbles on...

It has been identified in recent government statistics, that the construction industry is the UK's largest producer of waste. It is estimated that the construction industry alone produces around 109 million tonnes of waste, which equates to 24% of the total waste produced in the UK. Worryingly 13% of this waste is due to over ordering on site (but this is the subject for another discussion). Of the 109 million tonnes of waste produced, it is estimated the around 36 million tonnes is sent to landfill. These are still shocking statistics at a time when the target for us all should be zero waste to landfill.

Of course, one effective way that we can reduce the amount of waste that has to be sent to landfill is to be efficient and economical when ordering materials for site, reducing the volume of materials that have to be sent to landfill unnecessarily, and in instances where materials have been 'over ordered' ensure that they are reused. The same principle can be applied to waste that has been produced; where possible it should always be reused, diverting it from landfill.

So what does all this have to do with waste segregation? Waste segregation whether on-site or off-site can facilitate the reuse philosophy, further reducing the volume of waste to be sent to landfill. For projects where space is limited, full on site waste segregation can be a problem. In this situation it is important to use a reputable waste carrier, who will take the waste to a waste transfer station, with a materials recovery facility (MRF) for off-site segregation.

Below we discuss the pros and cons for both on-site segregation and off-site segregation.

On-Site Segregation


  • Minimising the overall volume of waste

Separating different waste streams and effectively storing them (compacting or crushing packaging and light mixed wastes) due a smaller volume of waste, could lead to a reduction in your collection costs. You could fit more waste into the units that you have on site.

  • Ensuring your team on site take responsibility helps you recycle more

Your team on site will know better then anybody what materials they are disposing of. Working with them to take responsibility to for ensuring materials that could be reused aren't thrown away, could avoid higher landfill and disposal costs

  • Reduces your carbon footprint whilst driving up your credit credentials

Differentiate yourselves from your competitors; promoting yourselves as a company that is working towards zero waste to landfill, could be beneficial

  • Safer working practices

Segregating and storing waste streams properly minimises the risk of accidents and improves site health and safety


  • Training

Training your staff on site can initially take time; however once established this approach to waste can be mirrored on other sites

  • Initial Costs

The outlay for hiring more skip to site initially will be greater, before cost savings will be realised

  • Space on site

Having more skips on site takes significantly more room which on a small site may be a problem

  • Change Culture

Unless all staff and contractors on site work towards the change, cross contamination can still occur 

Off-Site Segregation


  • Less room needed on site

One massive benefit to passing the control of your waste segregation to a waste company is that you don't require space on site for multiple skips; which on a small site where space is at a premium it could be a problem.

  • Lower costs initially

You don't have the outlay of hiring multiple skips to site at once. Instead just having 'a skip' on site which requires multiple collections.

  • Specialists on site at the MRF

At the MRF staff there are specialists; they will ensure that the waste streams collected are efficiently identified and sorted prior to recycling

  • Relives time pressure for staff

Having the waste segregated off-site means that your staff on-site don't have to spend time sorting waste when placing it in the skip


  • Not all materials could be reused efficiently

Your staff on site know the materials that they are disposing; they could be disposing of materials that could be used on another site

  • More collections may be necessary on the single skip

Although you may have a lower outlay initially because of only ordering one skip to site; you may need more collections arranged for it. This can result in additional costs.

  • Higher landfill tax expenditure

Some MRF's are more efficient then others, so more of your waste might end up in landfill; resulting in the extra landfill tax charge

  • Fines or additional costs for contaminated skips

Hazardous or specialist waste may end up being disposed in the skip, which has to be treated separately incurring additional charges

Whilst SWMP's are no longer a legal requirement, 83% of participants in a recent WRAP survey said that having a SWMP encouraged them to segregate waste on site. At NatWaste, we still offer a complete waste management 'cradle to grave' service, where our staff will visit site and work with your staff to identify waste streams, and how they can be efficiently segregated and diverted away from landfill.

Click here to find out how the NatWaste team can help you :-

  • Divert waste away from landfill
  • Reduce your carbon footprint
  • Potentially reduce your on-site costs