British Holiday and Home Parks Association, David Bellamy Conservations Awards

British Holiday and Home Parks Association, David Bellamy Conservations Awards

Waste Management

Waste Management

Waste management is an expensive business so waste reduction, re-use and recycling should be a central element in any park’s environmental work: If you can reduce the amount of waste that is carted off to landfill, you’ll not only help the planet, but you could also reduce your waste management costs.

The starting point for any waste management work should be a clean, litter-free park. So make sure you have enough litter bins and a poop-a-scoop policy (and perhaps a dog run) that stops dog mess being a problem. Also please make sure that chemical wastes from caravan toilets are properly disposed of. If you have an on-park sewage treatment system, please make sure that this is functioning effectively and that all discharge consents etc. are in order (see below for more information). Many parks have had success with reed bed systems that can be used as a final stage in waste treatment – and which also have a lot of wildlife value as habitats.

The next step is to think about how to reduce the amount of waste your site produces. This can take a bit of imagination and lateral thinking, but you can make a real difference by, for example, simply re-using old envelopes or by buying in bulk to reduce packaging waste. You can also reduce waste by purchasing products that have less environmental impact such as low-VOC paints and phosphate-free detergents.

Recycling is the next thing to think about. You should aim to get as large a variety and tonnage of waste recycled as possible. Items that can be recycled include: glass; paper and cardboard; ferrous metal and aluminium; plastics and textiles; construction and wood waste; other wastes such as batteries, paints, cooking oils etc. Organic waste (such as garden clippings, wood chips, food waste etc.) can be composted.

To get your park recycling, you’ll obviously need to set up an on-park collection system for waste produced by your guests and by your business itself. This will depend on the size of your park, but should have clearly signed recycling collection points that are easy for guests and residents to access, but which are also well-screened and tidy. A recycling system will only work if guests, residents and staff use it properly. So it is vital to provide them with easy-to-understand information and lots of encouragement.

You’ll also need to find a way to get the waste you collect taken away and actually recycled. Your local council should be your first port of call, however, some councils will not collect from parks. In this situation, many parks have found that using commercial waste recycling companies can be cost effective. Others have had success working with charity bodies. Smaller parks often manage by carting their waste to their local recycling centre themselves.

Sewage Treatment

Sewage treatment is a key challenge for any park. It is vital that your park has the relevant discharge consents relating to the discharge of treated sewage to watercourses.

Regulations state that the preferred option for sewage disposal is to discharge to a foul sewer; however this if often not feasible for parks that are located deep in the countryside. In such a situation, if a park can show that it cannot discharge to a sewer, then it can look at a private treatment system. Such a system can involve a number of different ways of providing primary and secondary sewage treatment - from a simple septic tank to more complex package sewage treatment plant.

Provided the sewage treatment system a park installs meets the required discharge consents, then that park can discharge treated wastewater either to land, through a properly designed and sized soak away in a drainage field, or to a water course. However it is often the case that an extra stage of treatment is required before this can happen. In such cases, one possible option is a reed bed system – which can also provide a park with a valuable habitat resource.

Reed beds are usually constructed over an impermeable base membrane and the reeds planted in a granular growing medium, usually made of a soil and gravel mix. Wastewater is passed through the bed and flows slowly through the mass of roots where bacteria get to work.

Before going forward with any new sewage treatment system or reedbed you should do a full assessment of your park's situation and requirements. Expert advice should always be sought.

things to try header


  • Have a waste management policy in place which gives you targets for waste reduction and recycling.
  • Appoint a waste management ‘champion’ or team.
  • Monitor waste levels and recycling levels regularly.
  • Set up regular litter patrols and provide adequate litter bins.
  • Set up separate dog walking area with poop-a-scoop bins.
  • Give staff training and awareness raising sessions on waste management.
  • Set up appropriate disposal points for chemical toilet waste and other hazardous materials.

Reduce and Reuse :

  • Use recycled paper in offices and recycled paper products for housekeeping.
  • Use other recycled products wherever possible (e.g. glassware, recycled plastic furniture etc).
  • Use re-fillable products (e.g. printer cartridges, soap dispensers).
  • Purchase in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
  • Use other waste minimization strategies (e.g. reusable bags offered in on-site shop).
  • Use low toxicity paints, varnishes and other chemicals.
  • Use eco-friendly cleaning materials (e.g. phosphate-free detergents).
  • If cassette toilets used on site, supply formaldehyde-free fluids, such as Thetford’s Aqua Kem Green, in on-park shop.


  • Set up collection facilities for as wide a range of waste materials as possible and ensure that whoever takes the rubbish away guarantees that it will actually be recycled.
  • Ensure good placement, signage and screening of recycling bins.
  • Assess waste production and recycling periodically to look for opportunities for improvement.
  • Ask staff, guests and visitors to do their bit and make it easy for them to do this (e.g. paper recycling bins in offices; recycling sorting bins in caravans).
  • Set up an on-park compost heap for organic waste.
  • Sell recycled products on site.

More information:

  • Click here for an indepth article on waste management and recycling, complete with examples of what parks are doing.
  • Click here for an update on this issue and here for an in-depth article on parks and plastic waste.
  • Click here for an indepth article on reed beds and sewage treatment, complete with examples of what parks are doing.