When it comes to your company’s waste management policy, you can save money at the same time as increasing your sustainability commitments, which is a win for both your bottom line and the perception of your brand by the public.
Sustainability organisation the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is encouraging businesses to follow their basic principles of the waste hierarchy: reduce the quantity of waste generated, then maximise the amount that can be reused or recycled. Managing waste in this way doesn’t just help with a company’s eco-friendly credentials, it also provides an effective way of reducing waste management costs.
Over the past few years, the growing concern about environmental damage and the rising costs of sending rubbish to landfill has prompted a slow revolution in the way we dispose of our waste, with a drop in waste sent to landfill from 100m tonnes in 1997 to less than 39m tonnes in 2013.
It may sound totally obvious, but the most efficient and effective way of reducing waste costs is to create less waste in the first place. For instance, way back in 2009, the Marriott Hotel chain stopped automatically delivering newspapers to every room, relying on guests to ask reception for one if they wanted it. This policy resulted in reducing the number of newspapers ordered annually by 8 million worldwide, which not only saved a small fortune on buying costs but also resulted in a massive reduction in the amount of waste being produced and collected.
Restaurants and caterers can also do their bit.
It’s estimated that 400,000 tonnes of food waste could be avoided if products were better portioned, managed, stored and prepared. A WRAP report estimates that a third of food waste generated in restaurants is from customers’ plates. The simplest and most cost-effective, solution to this problem would be to serve smaller portions, which would not only save money and waste, it’d also have the bonus of appealing to the more health-conscious diners.
In the last couple of years, we have seen a greater emphasis on reducing over-packaging and increasing recycling, for which there is a growing public appetite. According to the latest government statistics, in 2017, UK households recycled 45.7% of their rubbish, rising from 45.2% in 2016. Biodegradable waste sent to landfill fell to 7.4 million tonnes (down from 7.8m in 2016). However, the percentage of packaging waste recycled or recovered fell slightly, down from 71.4% in 2016 to 70.2% in 2017. It will be interesting to see how the ‘Blue Planet effect’ will change these figures when the statistics are next reported.
Taking advantage of the growing willingness of individuals to reduce waste, businesses can improve the efficiency of their own waste management by installing recycling bins and encouraging a recycling culture throughout the workplace. Once everyone is in the habit of putting the right kind of waste into the right bin, your company will save time and resources when baling or compacting it. Compacting waste not only makes storing it easier, it also reduces the number of collections you’ll need to pay for.