Zero waste is the term used when referring to the complete elimination of waste created by businesses and homes. Usually, this means that no waste created by a business goes to the landfill at all. It goes beyond recycling in that it strives for the most efficient use possible for all materials and that those materials either return to the natural environment or are reused for another purpose. The direct benefits of zero waste is the elimination of all discharges to land, water, or air that are hazardous to human, animal, or plant health.
Zero waste, has become a proven business objective, with many companies finding that eliminating waste can significantly help the bottom line as well as satisfy employee and consumer demands for environmental responsibility.
What does it take to be a zero-waste business?
By following these steps, you will be getting your business on the path towards zero waste:
- Assess how you are currently managing waste – Identify what type of waste your business is producing and where it comes from. Does your business have recycling bins available to everyone? Does each office have their own waste bin? These are the types of things you need to consider. Also, start thinking of ways you can reduce the waste you generate. This can be anything from reducing the volume of materials, to minimising any packaging.
Additionally, try to think of ways to reduce hazardous wastes (such as Styrofoam and electronic items). Ask your vendors and suppliers to work with you in achieving zero waste and set up your contracts to reflect your zero waste policies. After analyzing the trash you generate, you may find new ideas or possibilities to cut back on upstream wastes, such as significantly reducing printing paper orders because of a reduction of printing and using electronic sources as alternatives to printing.
- Begin setting goals for your business towards a zero waste plan – Based on your findings from the assessment, you can create certain goals that will help you reach your target. Creating a timeline for these goals and keeping a note of your progress in a public manner is a fantastic way to get your employees on board with the vision, and a good way to make them more conscious of what they are discarding as waste. Consider regular social media updates to inform your followers of your zero waste mission – this should help keep you and your business on track.
- Create a group to manage this zero waste plan – The key to a zero waste plan’s success is having a responsible group/committee to monitor progress, research ideas, and make sure the transition is easily integrated into employees’ workdays. Encourage employees to take part in the group, as it is employees that see firsthand what kind of waste is being generated in the business and how it is disposed of. Usually, these same employees have great ideas on how to curb the amount of waste generated.
To begin with, you should use visual signs to categorise the type of waste. These signs can be anything you dispose of, from old newspapers, reusable office supplies, and bins for recycling. These bins need to also be in a convenient location so everyone in the workplace can access them.
- Receive regular updates from your zero waste group – schedule regular meetings with the team and all potential participants to educate them, update them, and monitor progress. Also, clarify roles and set a time frame for the development and progression of a zero waste plan.
- Consider conducting a waste audit using an expert company – Many times, companies will hire outside experts to assess a business’s waste generation. The results will spell out what type of waste a business generates, where a business succeeds in waste reduction, where it could improve, and provides recommendations for moving forward.
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