Creating an effective waste management plan is a must for any company. Reducing the amount of waste your business sends to the landfill is not only important in helping the environment, but it can also save your company money over the long term.
Here are six key tips that can help you to develop a great waste management plan for your business.
Know your waste
The first step in creating a waste management plan that’s appropriate for your company is to understand as much as you can about the waste you are producing. Begin by keeping track of the waste generated by your company over the course of one or two weeks: note the different types (or streams) of waste produced, and measure how much is produced in each category. Not only will this help you to identify the collection or disposal options that best suit your company, but it will also help you to set a benchmark against which you can measure future waste reduction.
Know the requirements
It’s important to stay up-to-date with any legislation concerning solid waste management in your area to avoid potential costs or problems. For example, if your municipality has banned green waste like organics and food scraps from the garbage, but your company continues to send that waste to the landfill, you could end up facing a substantial fine.
Know your options
Once you’ve identified your company’s main types of waste, you can start by looking for the waste and recycling collection company that will be the best fit for your business. Your current waste service provider may already be doing the job adequately, but it’s always a good idea to investigate other companies to find out the range of recycling options they provide and what their collection fees are.
Increase employee buy-in with training programs and incentives
A company waste management plan is only as successful as the people who are executing it, so make sure to get your employees on board with the new waste management plan. Host information sessions and get your employees engaged by encouraging them to ask questions about the plan, why it’s important, and how they can help. Incentives are a great way to increase employee buy-in: consider small, fun rewards for employees who achieve certain goals or targets, like using the smallest amount of photocopy paper in a given week. It can also help to build teams of employees who are each responsible for carrying out a different part of the waste management plan or to designate a “waste coordinator” who can act as the go-to person (and the enforcer, when necessary) on all aspects of the plan.
Optimize container placement
Look at where your waste and recycling containers are placed and how they are identified: poorly labeled or difficult-to-access containers mean that waste will almost certainly be deposited in the wrong container, while those that are color-coded, clearly labeled, and conveniently placed will help to ensure compliance.
Implement ongoing tracking and monitoring systems
As with many new company initiatives, waste management plans are often successful when they are first launched, then gradually become less so as employees and management fall back into their old habits. In order to avoid this and to ensure that your plan continues to fulfill its objectives, it’s important to continue to monitor the waste produced by your company and to alert colleagues to particular achievements (such as a week when no waste whatsoever was sent to the landfill) or struggles. Everyone at your company should be aware that a waste management plan is not a short-term fad. It is a long-term commitment to a better environment and a better business.
What are some specific ideas for reducing waste?
The best way to divert waste from the landfill is simply not to produce it in the first place. To help reduce waste at your company, try these strategies:
- Going paperless whenever possible is one of the biggest ways most companies can reduce waste. Avoid printing or photocopying by relying on e-mails, digital documents, and scanned images. If it is necessary to print or photocopy a document, make sure that officer printers and photocopiers are automatically set for double-sided printing. If paper is only used on one side, use the other for draft printing or scrap notes.
- If your company produces physical newsletters or other materials in-house, make sure you are producing only the quantity you need by keeping your customer databases and distribution lists up to date.
- When purchasing office supplies, choose refillable options for pens, pencils, and tape dispensers.
- Rather than buying lunchroom supplies like cream, sugar, coffee, or condiments in small or disposable containers, buy them in bulk and use reusable containers to dispense them.
- Eliminate disposable items like paper plates and plastic cutlery from your lunchroom. Instead, provide reusable dishes, cutlery, mugs, and glasses. Encourage employees to bring their lunch items in reusable containers like Thermos flasks or Tupperware.
- Instead of using paper towels in the bathroom, opt for washable linen towels or hand dryers.