So much waste, so little time – a guide to effective waste management in business

Over the past decades, waste generation has increased enormously all across the globe to the point where our planet is being swamped by the trash resulting from human activities. Factors such as population growth, rural and urban development, lifestyle changes and overconsumption are contributing to the production of an estimated 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste per year worldwide, with almost 33% of it being inadequately managed.

Waste generation is expected to increase by approximately 70% and reach 3.4 billion metric tonnes annually by 2050. The world’s cities alone are projected to produce three times more waste by 2025 compared to 2009 figures. To make matters worse, only 20% of all waste is recycled yearly and the biggest percentage of it ends up in landfill sites or entering the world’s waterways. This can have devastating consequences on the natural environment, climate and human health.

The point is, as a global society we are generating more waste than we can handle and if things continue to progress at this rate, we’re going to end up living in a waste-dominated world or making our planet uninhabitable. So, we currently find ourselves in a race against time to solve the waste generation problem and all the negative effects stemming from it.

The global waste crisis puts the spotlight on businesses and organisations as this is where the problem originates. These days, companies worldwide are facing increased pressure to reduce their waste production and adopt more sustainable practices in this respect. But while large corporations might have the resources and means to respond promptly to these demands, smaller firms generally find it more difficult to improve their waste management strategies and boost their sustainability credentials.

However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible. While the challenges are hard to ignore, there are a number of measures all businesses can take to manage waste more effectively, as we’re going to explain in this article.

Waste auditing

As a business owner, before you start thinking about potential strategies and methods you could implement to amplify your waste management efforts, you should focus your attention on conducting a waste audit. Without an in-depth understanding of your current situation, you won’t know where to begin and what aspects you should tackle first to improve your waste management practices. So, if you want to avoid the guesswork and direct your efforts and resources where they can make the biggest difference, you should start with an independent waste audit.

A professional waste audit of your company is going to provide you with a complete breakdown of your entire waste management program, highlighting both the areas that are performing properly and the ones that are underperforming or causing you to lose money. In other words, this will help you figure out what you’re doing right and where you’re falling short, and give you all the data you need to make informed decisions and find effective waste management solutions.

The three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle

In any company, responsible waste management starts with the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. These three principles work together to help you reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills and run your business operations in a more environmentally friendly manner.

  • The first R stands for reducing as a crucial step in minimising a company’s ecological footprint. This means you have to find ways to cut down on the amount of waste your business generates either by rethinking your supply chain or making changes to the way your business operates. For example, you can reduce the packaging used in your business or go paperless.
  • Next, you have reusing as the second R. Many companies tend to discard the items they no longer find suitable for their current activities and purchase new ones when they could refurbish or repurpose what they already have and save money in the process. Donating unnecessary items is also a good alternative to consider.
  • Finally, the third R, recycling, requires you to sort your company’s waste into different categories and separate materials that can be recycled from the rest. Then you can send these materials to recycling centres where they will be used to create new items. If your business generates large amounts of cardboard, plastic, expanded polystyrene or any other material that is suitable for recycling, using a Miltek waste compactor can help you save space and money by compressing the trash into smaller cubes or bales that are easier to store and transport.

Working with the right waste management partners

Strategic waste management also implies having the right partners by your side who can help you find the best waste management solutions for your company and streamline the entire process. This means searching and comparing local waste collection companies and waste service providers in your region and establishing partnerships with them. When you work with professionals in the field you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your waste management efforts are supported and the waste is being dealt with in an ethical way.

However, you need to research each of these companies and make sure you understand the terms of the contracts and the fees they incur before you sign on the dotted line. Keep in mind that different waste service providers offer various types of services at different rates, so you have to know exactly what you’re paying for. Most of them will send you an itemized bill breaking the costs for each service, so that should help you calculate waste management expenses and also find ways to reduce them.

Wrapping up

It’s certainly not easy to manage and reduce the amount of waste a business produces, but it would be much worse for your company and the world to ignore the negative impact that waste generation has on the planet and continue to run their operations as usual. Implementing effective waste management systems is the only way for businesses to move forward and ensure a prosperous future for us all.

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