Steps to Get Your Business on the Path to Zero Waste

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.

A zero waste philosophy strives to make the most efficient use of all materials, and that the mantra ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ is stuck to.

The benefits of a zero waste model are endless and we explore the reasons why below:

Why is Zero Waste important?

Not only is following a zero waste philosophy potentially cost effective for your businesses, it directly benefits the natural environment and human health.

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A zero waste model can also help create jobs, save money and reduce damage to many communities. Consider this:

  • Every year across the globe, landfills are estimated to emit between 30 and 70 millions tonnes of methane, a hazardous greenhouse gas
  • Landfills can pollute surface water and groundwater, which are harmful to both humans and animals
  • Landfills cost millions to build and operate. This in turn, costs businesses and homeowners money
  • It shows your business has an ability to demonstrate commitment to the environment
  • It fulfils a corporate responsibility
  • Potentially more opportunities due to environmentally conscious customers choosing your business over other less environmentally friendly ones
  • Marketing opportunities on social media
  • The use of a Zero Waste to Landfill logo on any of your marketing materials

How to get started on a Zero Waste campaign

By following these steps, you will be getting your business on the path towards zero waste

  1. Assess how you are currently managing waste
  2. Begin setting goals for your business towards a zero waste plan
  3. Create a group to manage this zero waste plan
  4. Receive regular updates from your zero waste group
  5. Consider conducting a waste audit using an expert company
  1. 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.

Look at ways you can reduce hazardous wastes such as electronic items. Talk to your suppliers and ask them to work with you towards your zero waste goal. You can work up contracts to reflect the zero waste policies. Once you have analyzed the waste you produce, you maybe surprised at the new possibilities and ideas you come up with to reduce waste.

Of course, the type and amount of waste you produce will depend on what business you run. For example, a furniture company will generate an entirely different set of waste to an IT company. Knowledge on the types of waste your business produces is the first step in determining your goals and adopting the zero waste philosophy.

  1. Begin setting your Zero Waste goals

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.

  1. Create a group to manage this zero waste plan

One of the most essential components to a zero waste plan is to have a group responsible for monitoring the progress, the ideas and the transition into the employees workdays. Try to involve your employees in the group, as they usually have great ideas on how to prevent the waste that is being produced.

To begin with, you should use visual signs to categorize 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.

For example, in many restaurants, 60% of waste is generated in the back of house. This can be the perfect starting point to introduce training about better food preparation and recycling, which can eventually be integrated into daily operations. Place bins next to the dishwasher and food stations and you will quickly see how much waste can be recycled.

Incentives and competitions between departments might be a way to help your company get behind your zero waste campaign.

  1. Receive regular updates from your zero waste group

Organize regular meetings with your team members and all the participants of the zero waste drive. This will help educate them whilst keeping a track of progress. Take notes if there are any reductions in incoming supply and the different waste disposal bills.

  1. Consider receiving a waste audit from an expert company

Business and companies will often hire experts such as London based rubbish clearance company EnviroWaste to assess a business and how much waste they generate. You can find waste auditors like Envirowaste in almost every city. The result from this will spell out what type of waste your business generates, what you can reduce, and ways you can move forward.

What can you do?

Here are a few started ideas that all businesses can use:

  • Switch to electronic billing
  • Consider double sided printing
  • Encourage more electronic alternatives to printing (such as eFax and email)
  • Try using refillable pens and ink cartridges
  • Reuse and recycle cardboard boxes
  • Remove the business from any mailings you deem unnecessary
  • Rechargeable batteries for any peripherals that use them
  • Switch your standard light bulbs to CFL or LED lights, which last a great deal longer
  • If you are able to, try and sell or donate any materials that any individuals or other businesses can use
  • Sign up to a compost pickup program

Once you are well on your way to a zero waste workplace, make sure you use it to your advantage:

  • Utilize social media to broadcast what you have done to reduce waste.
  • Shout about your campaign by creating a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) page on your website
  • Take part in local events to encourage publicity

Going zero waste is a long journey, but ultimately your business, your employees and the environment will be rewarded. The most important thing is that you take that initial step. The plan may not be perfect to begin with, but adjustments can always be made along the way.

Image credit: geralt

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.