It’s said there are two certainties in life: death, and taxes. Well, you can add at least two more to that – firstly, that your Apple iPhone charger cable will frayÂ somewhere near the Lightning connector and stop working within about a year; and, secondly, that no matter what it is you do, your business will produce waste.
There’s not a lot you can do about avoiding death, taxes and self-destructing iPhone charger cables, but there’s a lot you can do to make sure your business waste isn’t too costly to deal with and that you lessen your environmental impact at the same time.
These three proven steps will help.
1. Recycle more
Recycling isn’t the panacea of good waste management practice, but in most cases it’s better than disposal.
Not only does recycling extend the useful life of material resources like paper, plastic and metals, it’s also typically much less expensive than disposal.
Waste sent to landfill, for example, not only attracts a disposal cost but Landfill Tax too – which will go up again in April 2016. This annual Gate Fees report from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) highlights the difference in costs between recycling and disposal.
In many cases, it’s possible to get paid for your recyclable waste – although, like any other commodity, prices are volatile and, right now, are generally quite depressed.
If you want to save money and the planet, recycling is a great place to start.
2. Get the right infrastructure
There are two elements to this: firstly, that you have the right infrastructure available in the right locations; and, secondly, that the infrastructure you use is correctly sized.
By infrastructure, we’re taking about things like waste paper bins and skips.
Here’s what we mean.
If you’re asking your people to recycle, then they need to be able segregate recyclable materials from the leftover rubbish that can’t be recycled. That means providing suitable receptacles, skips or lay-down areas for different recyclables. What’s more, they really need to be accessible and well labelled. For instance, if you want people to recycle paper in the copy room, there’s no point having a mixed waste bin in there and a recycling bin outside and around the corner – people are inherently lazy and won’t generally make the extra effort.
As well as making sure you have enough of the right waste containers in the right locations, you also need to make sure they’re the right size. Every time your recycling contractor visits to empty your cardboard skip, for instance, there’s a transport cost associated with the work (whether that’s visible to you or not). There’s no point using a small skip that’s emptied three times a week if you can use a much larger one that’s only emptied once a week instead.
Having the right receptacles, of the right size and in the right locations, is key to making a success of your business waste recycling strategy.
3. Cut down on waste
Once you’re recycling as much as you can and your infrastructure is fit for purpose, then the next thing – and perhaps the one that will make the biggest overall and lasting impact – is to try and cut down on business waste.
There’s no doubt that increased recycling and improved waste collection efficiencies will save you money but it’s better to avoid some or all of your costs altogether if you can.
The way to do that is to examine where your waste arises, in what quantities and why – then start making attempts to eliminate, avoid or reduce it.
It’s not as difficult as it may at first seem.
For example, you could ask your suppliers not to send you goods in disposal packaging – explore options for returnable and reusable packaging instead. In 2003, we advised a company on a scheme that enabled it to stop exporting waste in single-use barrels (that were destroyed during the process of dealing with the waste) and instead move to a reusable packaging system – it saved them around Â£80,000 a year and cut down on the number of metal drums needed, so helping to conserve global resources.
You may also find that, over time, you’ve developed some bad habits in the way you operate your business processes – we all occasionally fall into the trap of sticking rigidly to doing things they way we’ve always done them, rather than checking to see if we can do them better and smarter. Take a closer look and see where you can make changes.
To make deeper, lasting savings, monitor, map and measure waste then look for ways to trim it.
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