Every week businesses put their trash on the curb for collection.
Every week it seems to miraculously disappear. But where does it all go: the empty toner cartridges, the obsolete computer monitor, those outdated HR training manuals?
Perhaps the biggest, costliest, dirtiest secret about our trash: our lack of awareness of how much we produce and where it goes after it leaves our hands.
To get an idea, consider the most recent survey conducted by Columbia University and the trade journal BioCycle. Research found that the average American discards more than 7 pounds of garbage every day, and that less than 1/4 of it gets recycled.
In fact, American communities on average spend more money on waste management than on fighting fires, parks and recreation, libraries or textbooks, according to U.S. Census data on municipal budgets.
Of course this doesn’t include the waste that businesses produce. And even though these factoids are specific to the United States, they do provide some insight into a problem that is plaguing the entire world. Something needs to be done, and soon.
We’re generating millions of tons of waste every year and as space in landfills runs out, the race is on to find environmentally friendly alternatives. After all, what happens when our landfills are full?
Business Waste Management: What’s the Big Deal?
Recycling seems to be the watchword nowadays.
But why should the business world care, why does it matter, what is the big deal? Don’t business owners have better things to do than follow the minutest details of the items they throw away?
The short answer: No.
Across the land, there are literal mountains of garbage. Although it’s hard to connect them with simply throwing a plastic soda bottle in the garbage bin, the facts remain.
The cost of sending garbage to landfills is rising as we run out of space. It hurts the environment and isn’t a long-term solution. Maintaining your company’s current waste management is simply not a viable option, financially or ethically. It’s time to find ways to divert rubbish from landfills.
Why Should My Business Recycle?
You may ask “why rock the boat?” if you have been using your current waste management solution for some time now. In addition to the reasons already provided, there are environmental and financial benefits.
When you become known as a company known with green credentials, it may help attract new customers and clients who respect and value your ethics. Far too many businesses pay lip service to “going green” and consumers know the difference. They are attracted to businesses who demonstrate a genuine commitment to reducing waste.
If your business sells directly to the public, changing or reducing your packaging can deliver financial benefits. It can also help reduce post-consumer plastic packaging waste in households. That is a good thing because plastics are one of the worst culprits continuing to clog landfills even as we try to reduce the amount of waste that we dump in those landfills.
Smart Businesses Encourage Reuse, Recycling and Resource Recovery
If you are wondering how to get started with sustainable waste management, here are a few tips to help you get the ball rolling.
Measure business waste – the first thing you want to do is get an idea of how much waste your organization is generating currently. A ballpark figure is good enough to begin with. Take a look at all of your garbage collection bins before the collection truck empties them. How full are they? Note the size of each, how much waste it contains and how often it is collected. This will give you a rough idea of how much waste your business generates in a specific time period.
Reduce waste going to landfill – for businesses going green, a quick win is to lower the amount of waste sent to landfills. Here are three ways to get started.
- Reduce – Is there waste that can be avoided or reduced by changing the way your business procures its goods and services? What about by changing the way your business operates?
- Reuse – Is there another local business that can make use of the waste materials you produce? If so, reach out to them and forge a partnership.
- Recycle – What waste materials can be targeted for recycling?
Identify local collectors of recyclable materials – once you have identified materials suitable for recycling, it’s time to find someone in your area who can collect your recyclable materials. Consider private and local government recycling services. This includes collection, transport and drop-off locations. Search by type of material and location to locate the appropriate recycling services. Contact your industry association to get independent advice. They may even offer assistance programs. Check the green credentials of potential waste management companies to make sure that recycling or recovery meets your needs.
Implement material collection systems at business premises–This is the stage where you get everyone that works for your business involved. For example, if you have separate paper or cardboard collection services, then paper and cardboard will need to be separated from other recyclable materials, preferably at the point where they are generated. You’ll need to communicate the new process to employees, janitorial staff and, in some instances, customers.
Hopefully, you’ve seen how recycling can elevate your company’s reputation and boost your bottom line. Australian businesses should consider recycling as an option for waste management because sending waste to landfills isn’t a viable option and encouraging reuse, recycling and resource recovery can save you money and benefit the environment.
Remember, actions speak louder than words when it comes to corporate responsibility. The world is watching…and waiting for businesses to do their part.
Are you ready to get started? Do you want to learn more about recycling management solutions?