How to Better Manage Your Business's Waste was written for Playlouder by a contributing author. Please note that contributing opinions are that of the author. They are not always in strict alignment with my own opinions. –Joe.
Most businesses have become conscious of the impacts of waste on the environment, and they're taking responsibility for their actions by minimizing their carbon footprint.
Regardless of your industry, waste output significantly affects the environment and availability of resources. But you can be part of the solution by ensuring minimal waste production in your organization to enhance sustainability.
While some organizations may “move on” after setting up a waste removal process, it may not be enough. Proactive businesses pay close attention to waste management when establishing waste reduction policies.
The integrated approach ensures maximum environmental benefits and helps businesses reduce costs. Here are a few tips to help streamline your business's waste management processes.
Plan and Track Your Waste Management Processes
Waste materials offer a great opportunity to minimize emissions, greenhouse gasses, and business operating costs to enhance sustainability.
The process starts with meticulous waste tracking in various stages of your business operations. You can use online tools like the Portfolio Manager, which lets you track and benchmark the performance of your waste management activities.
You should understand and account for your business's different types of waste materials and pinpoint their sources. Similarly, you need to know the number of garbage bins and what each bin contains.
Therefore, you should develop a robust plan that focuses on minimizing waste and streamlining recycling processes. However, a general waste management strategy can pose significant implementation challenges, so you should create a custom plan designed for a specific site.
Engage and Upskill Your Team
The mid-level and junior employees in your company can make a big difference in your waste management goals- not just the top management level. Typically, enhanced staff engagement can help you get the desired results since an organization-wide understanding of your waste management protocol is essential to eliminate possible bottlenecks.
For instance, if you acquired a compactor to comply with environmental and safety objectives, but the staff is oblivious to its operations, the effort becomes futile and diminishes the return on investment.
You can incorporate business garbage management practices into your business culture and help employees understand how it promotes a good working environment. Also, including environmental compliance in your company's core values can help shape the waste management culture and influence your brand identity.
Most importantly, collaborating with your waste management providers can create opportunities for resourceful educational and promotional materials to ensure your staff understands the waste management best practices.
Providing sufficient training ensures your employees understand why you are adopting new protocols, and they will follow your instructions to the letter. Once they understand the numerous benefits of waste management, they will likely feel obligated to implement the company's environmental best practices with a renewed sense of purpose.
Audit Your Business Premises
Understanding the waste production outlook in your business is essential before implementing any effective changes. Try to pinpoint different kinds of waste materials you produce and their amount per month.
Also, review the usage of your raw materials and determine the effectiveness of your recycling and waste management operations. The insights you get from the audit will help you make a data-driven decision about critical focus areas to ensure easier tracking and progress.
A waste assessment or audit involves a systematic review of business premises and its operations to determine the composition and quantity of waste materials. Understanding the composition of your waste material helps you develop a custom waste reduction program. In addition, you can liaise with the local recycling office to get an official waste audit.
Typically, waste audit results guide your waste reduction program. For instance, if you find high levels of contamination in the recycling setup, it may indicate the need for enhanced communication and training about the contents of particular recycling bins.
On the other hand, the result might indicate that employees are stashing recyclable items in the trash bins. Depending on the audit results, you can hold a company-wide brainstorming session to discuss and improve waste reduction activities and narrow down your options based on feasibility and alignment with your short-term and long-term company goals.
Improve Your Operations
Generating minimum waste is the best strategy to reduce your company's carbon footprint since waste prevention ensures the highest environmental benefits while minimizing business costs.
Your company can modify various aspects like design, purchases, manufacturing, or product usage to reduce waste output. For instance, you can encourage the team to embrace minimal printing or change the printer settings to support double-sided printing.
Reusing some materials extends the lifespan of these products and delays disposal or recycling processes. The reuse principle involves refurbishing, repairing, washing, and recovering any product that can be used again. For instance, reusable coffee mugs are more environmentally safe than single-use options.
Avoid Single Use Plastics and Go Paperless
There could be more plastics in the oceans than fish by 2050; therefore, avoiding overreliance on single-use plastic packaging materials is essential. You can start by introducing free water refill points in your business and offering your customers and employees water glasses or branded reusable bottles. Similarly, try to cut back on plastic-based consumables to minimize waste.
Paper is a significant source of waste in most company offices, but transitioning to paperless processes can be tough, especially when you have analog processes and records driving business operations. However, most companies are moving towards paperless operations to cut back on paper production and waste.
But once you make the transition, there's no looking back. You can start by slowly digitizing traditional records and implementing new policies and procedures that support paperless business operations. Modern technologies like cloud computing facilitate paperless business operations and cloud data storage –minimizing the need for paperwork across different industries.
When buying paper products, use recycled options and reuse items like envelopes. You can also implement organization-wide paperless policies requiring electronic memos, digital invoices, cloud collaboration, and virtual document signing. In addition, encourage your staff to avoid bulk printing unless when necessary.
Understand Available Recycling Options
Recycling is a straightforward waste disposal option with numerous benefits. It minimizes landfill and raw material extraction. Besides optimizing landfills, recycling ensures maximum utilization of available resources.
However, the viability of recycling depends on its availability. Consider whether there are processing facilities nearby that can take the waste materials from your business. Similarly, you can look for county-specific waste management programs and determine their specific collection services.
Most organizations opt to pool their waste materials with other businesses to minimize collection costs. And some waste management companies often provide machinery expertise and other practical items like waste bins.
Manage Your Inventory and Assess Packaging Use
Streamlining your inventory management can reduce waste significantly. Understanding your inventory requirements means you won't over-order supplies, leading to enhanced control of your business processes. While inventory management is crucial for construction, manufacturing, and food businesses, every industry can benefit from streamlined inventory procedures.
Packaging contributes to about 30% of waste in most developed countries. Reviewing packaging usage across your company can reveal unnecessary excesses from your product packaging or vendor supplies. If you are into manufacturing, you can reinvent your packaging design to minimize material usage, and in some instances, you can use biodegradable materials.
You can order in bulk to minimize packaging when purchasing materials from vendors. However, some packaging may be unavoidable but could be repurposed for use on the business premises. Some suppliers are willing to adopt a low-packaging agreement where they provide supplies in reusable containers.
The Bottom Line
Waste management is vital to your business and often involves recurrent costs. Therefore, every business requires robust auditiing, monitoring, and reporting policies to minimize waste generation and associated operating costs.
And since employees are an integral part of your business, engaging and educating them on best practices to ensure the best results in your waste management processes is essential. Most importantly, your business garbage management scheme should capitalize on the reduction, reuse, and recycling principles.
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