Waste and Recycling Insurance

The waste and recycling industry is vital for keeping communities clean and providing environmentally friendly ways to reduce waste. Due to heavy investment in evolving technology and government support, this industry continues to grow. But, it also remains hampered by its own methods, which are perilous for workers. The dangerous nature of waste and recycling work can make insurers wary. But, without bespoke waste and recycling insurance, you risk letting your business go up in flames.

Who It Covers

The waste and recycling industry encompasses a wide variety of businesses differentiated by the materials they handle, the methods they employ and the equipment they use. Daily operations at some waste and recycling businesses can be radically different from those of other businesses in the same industry.

What links these different businesses together is that they all interact with waste materials. The broad range of businesses in the waste and recycling industry has pushed insurers to offer policies which can address the industry’s diverse needs. Waste and recycling insurance policies can cover the following businesses:

  • Skip hirers
  • Waste management
  • Landfill operations
  • Incineration plants
  • Waste to energy plants
  • Trade waste collection
  • Recycling operations
  • Consultants
  • Waste brokers

This list is not exhaustive. At Direct Insurance Corporate Risks we can work with your business to ensure it is covered. If you work with waste and recycling, we will fashion a policy that is perfectly tailored to your business.

Common Covers

The wide disparity between businesses in the waste and recycling industry means that waste and recycling insurance is not one-size-fits-all. You need a bespoke policy to cover your business’ distinct risks. Your policy should at least include the following common covers:

  • Employers’ liability
  • Public liability
  • Property damage
  • Business interruption
  • Fixed and mobile plant and machinery
  • Environmental impairment liability
  • Motor fleet

Policies vary among insurers for many reasons. Ensure yours addresses all of your business’ risks.

Common Extensions

Because waste and recycling policies are usually tailor-made for businesses, insurers must be able to offer a variety of options for businesses to choose from when constructing the best bespoke policy. Some common extensions include:

  • Legal expenses
  • Contingent motor liability
  • Sudden and accidental pollution
  • Defective premises
  • Spoilt melts
  • Personal accident
  • Clean-up costs
  • Landfill sites and waste tips

Again, this list does not represent the entirety of waste and recycling policy extensions. Talk to us for a full list of offerings to make sure your business is protected on all sides.

Common Exclusions

Although waste and recycling policies may seem like a blank slate, ready to be filled with a mixture of covers unique to your business, there are certain covers which the majority of insurers will always exclude. These exclusions include the following:

  • Asbestos and lead-based paint
  • Nuclear hazard
  • Natural radioactive material
  • Underground storage tank(s)
  • Divested location and property
  • Communicable diseases

Check your policy to find out what your exclusions are, since there is no standard waste and recycling policy. You may be able to cover normally excluded hazards by paying higher premiums.

Bespoke Is Best Your industry may be dangerous, but that does not mean the future of your business needs to be. Rely on the insurance professionals at Direct Insurance Corporate Risks at 01277 844 360 today for the resources and expertise to safeguard your waste and recycling business

Common Occupational Health Risks

Working in the waste and recycling industry, like all jobs, carries with it a certain degree of risk. However, the waste and recycling industry has a particularly high level of risk, stemming from the chemical and volatile nature of its work, which constantly places its workers in dangerous situations.

Minimising the industry’s high level of risk to keep your employees safe is not difficult. It all starts with identifying the following common occupational health risks that threaten your employees, and devising strategies to limit exposure.


When your employees handle any biodegradable wastes, such as compost, green and food waste, they expose themselves to bioaerosols.

Bioaerosols are a natural by-product of decaying organic matter. When green waste breaks down, microbes grow quickly in the warm, moist environment. Collecting and handling that waste causes the microbes to become airborne, creating bioaerosols—microbes suspended with dust in the air—which workers then breathe in while working.

Although bioaerosols are naturally present in the air, high concentrations can be damaging, and HSE-funded research found that workers in close proximity to waste composting processes could be exposed to bioaerosols between 10 and 1,000 times greater than in ambient air. Repeated inhalation of compost bioaerosols in large concentrations can aggravate the immune system and lead to asthma or other respiratory diseases such as extrinsic allergic alveolitis.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002 (2003 in Northern Ireland) defines bioaerosols as a substance hazardous to health. You should assess your business’ bioaerosol exposure and take the following actions to lower it:

  • Identify areas of your waste handling facility where bioaerosol concentrations are highest.
  • List the processes and activities that are most likely to create bioaerosols, such as aerating actively composting material.
  • Avoid handling bioaerosol-containing material during certain activities or weather that may boost bioaerosol exposure.
  • Provide employees with respiratory protective equipment and train them in its proper use.

Discarded Needles

Despite clear laws dictating the disposal of clinical devices, workers may still be exposed to discarded needles and other sharps during waste and recycling collection and sorting. The actual risk depends on several factors:

  • Whether the needle contains blood residue
  • Whether the needle user was infected with hepatitis or HIV viruses
  • How much infected material enters the bloodstream
  • How infective the material is

To help your workers steer clear of needlestick and sharps injuries, provide rigid containers like wheelie bins instead of plastic sacks, and rely on non-manual waste handling procedures. If you cannot avoid manual procedures, require workers to wear puncture-resistant clothing to shield their hands, arms and legs.

Personal Hygiene

Statistics measuring lost working time attributable to poor personal hygiene are unreliable, but the link between the two is solid. Waste and recycling workers’ good personal hygiene is essential for preventing infections and other ill health caused by working with waste and reduces overall sick leave. Antiseptic hand wipes are not enough—your employees need you to do the following:

  • Design your facilities so they can be easily cleaned according to the amount of waste, dust and other residues deposited during normal operations.
  • Provide quality washing facilities for employees.
  • Train workers to understand the importance of hygiene and utilise the available facilities.

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)

MSDs are any injuries, damage or disorders of the joints or other tissues in the upper/lower limbs or the back. They account for about one-third of all reported injuries in the waste and recycling industry, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Factors that contribute to MSDs include load weight, receptacle type and design, and collection frequency. Conduct a risk assessment to determine which systems of work are most likely to increase your employees’ chances of suffering a manual handling injury.


Everyday work duties in the waste and recycling industry are noisy. Without adequate control, employees may be exposed to high levels of noise and risk hearing damage. To comply with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (2006 in Northern Ireland), eliminate hazardous noise wherever possible, control noise exposure using engineering means so far as is reasonably practicable, and provide adequate protective equipment such as ear defenders.

Slips and Trips

All workplaces are subject to slips and trips—it is one of the most widespread workplace hazards. Luckily, effective solutions are often simple and cheap, and can improve working conditions and workplace productivity. Heed these general tips to keep your employees on firm ground:

  • Eliminate traffic on rough ground where possible.
  • Level rough ground and clearly designate pedestrian routes.
  • Improve drainage to remove standing water.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Minimise surface slipperiness with suitable floor treatments.


All types of asbestos can be dangerous if disturbed. Asbestos waste should be disposed of properly, but employees may still encounter incorrectly or illegally disposed-of asbestos. If your employees could potentially encounter asbestos waste, follow all asbestos regulations, offer asbestos awareness training to help them identify dangerous materials and ensure they follow safe systems of work.

Guard Your Business

These risks are just a sampling of the vast array facing your employees. Because not every waste and recycling business faces exactly the same risks, you need a bespoke policy tailored to your organisation’s specific threats. Trust the insurance professionals at Direct Insurance Corporate Risks to provide you with industry-specific guidance and a policy perfectly tailored to your needs.