Sustainable waste management is a complex topic. It covers waste generation, collection and disposal. Traditionally, waste management could mean generating a type of waste, collecting it and then sending it to landfill. Sustainable waste management differs in that it focuses on circular economics, adaptability and making sure waste isn’t simply sent to landfill.
From sustainable waste recycling to greening your supply chain, sustainable waste management is pursued in a variety of ways. Read on to find out how you can improve your business’ waste management processes.
- Understanding Sustainable Waste Management
- Waste Management Best Practices
- The Sustainable Waste Management Business Case
Understanding Sustainable Waste Management
The main goal of sustainable waste management within a business is to reduce the amount of raw materials being used and wasted, as well as extending the lifecycles of used materials. While sustainability itself is an incredibly broad subject within a business setting, it can be viewed as changes implemented throughout the supply chain to make a business greener overall.
Within the business world, there are increasing expectations surrounding corporate responsibility. Governments are implementing sustainability strategies and everyday customers like to see sustainability acted upon within a business setting.
The starting point for businesses is to audit your waste sources - what are the points within your supply chain that are generating the most waste, both recyclable and non-recyclable? Identify how you can maximise your waste management efficiency. What implementations could you choose?
Could it be working with a supplier who offers recyclable or previously-recycled packaging? How about monetising one of your waste products? Take polystyrene for example, a recyclable product that can actually be sold for additional revenue.
Let’s explore some of the immediate changes you can make.
Waste Management Best Practices
The following are several tips that any business can take to become greener. It’s not an exhaustive list, so it’s worth talking to professionals about how you can reduce the waste your produce.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
It’s an old slogan but is still incredibly pertinent to modern society and business. These are simple implementations that are easily done and don’t have to represent massive changes. Things like avoiding single-use items, such as plastic bottles and making digital notes and documents rather than paper ones reduces waste.
Reuse and recycling can be interchangeable terms. Reusing typically applies to things like refillable ink cartridges and recycling can be done for packaging or smaller items such as ink toner cartridges.
An old slogan with a lot of power, ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ is a key tenet that businesses can follow going forward.
Waste Management Machinery
One of the most beneficial additions to any business is a piece of waste management machinery. From compactors to balers, they each have a specific use case and a range of improvements to bring to your site.
Guaranteeing efficiency and a better way of disposing waste, machinery greatly enhances any sustainable waste management strategy. Machinery can help to do the following:
- Reduce the volume of waste.
- Create safer waste disposal processes.
- Reduce the number of skips of waste collections you need to pay for.
- Can provide the opportunity to monetise waste streams (such as polystyrene).
Waste disposal represents a good amount of a business’ budget and machinery can help to reduce those overheads. For more information on what businesses can do to reduce their waste footprint, read our blog here.
The Sustainable Waste Management Business Case
An article from the Institute of Management Development states that “62% of executives consider a sustainability strategy necessary to be competitive today”, while another 22% think it’s a key strategic addition for the future.
2020 was hailed as the year of sustainable business by Forbes, with companies taking “more responsibility for the front end of their supply chain too, with ethical sourcing and provenance of product also an important part of the puzzle.”
When it gets down to brass tacks, sustainability is popular amongst customers. And what’s popular for customers will be beneficial for your bottom line. Becoming sustainable is also a wise business move for future success. For example, finance companies and investors are increasingly likely to do business with sustainable organisations.
Only recently, the American global investment management corporation, Blackrock (who manage around $7 trillion in assets) announced they’d be exiting “investments that pose a high sustainability risk”.
In the UK, around two thirds of companies have already invested in corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. Around 64% of mid-sized companies have currently committed to being more ethical and/or sustainable in their practices. 48% of companies said that sustainability is crucial to their growth plans.
So sustainability isn’t just a practice that’s good for the environment - it’s good for your business.
Sustainability across the board comes from employee and managerial buy-in. What better way to convince your colleagues and peers that sustainability is a key business strategy than showing them the upward trend in sustainable businesses? Think of the following statistics:
- Companies that focus on sustainability and eco-innovation are growing at an annual rate of 15%.
- 75% of manufacturers have seen their material costs grow - so transitioning to sustainable waste management, where materials can be reused or recycled, is a good money-saving practice.
- Marketing sustainability within products, services and business processes could represent a $1 trillion market opportunity.
These are important statistics to consider, representing a potential future for your business and further success. But what does sustainable waste management look like in practice? Look no further. In our case study you can find out just how we at Greenbank help to solve waste solution issues.
Explore Sustainable Waste Management in Practise
In this case study, we collaborated with one of the UK’s leading auction house networks to reduce their waste. We did this by auditing their waste streams, creating a waste management policy for them and onboarding some of our efficient waste management machinery.
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