Creating cost-effective waste reduction solutions
Reducing waste is a critical environmental concern. Waste ends up polluting the environment, having a significant impact on plants and animals and contributing to climate change. Apart from ecological concerns, waste also has an impact on the economy.
Once waste is sent to landfill, it is a dead asset. A circular economy, where items are recycled and re-used, creates jobs and ensures assets stay in the marketplace where they can continue to generate profit.
Despite the potential economic impacts, Australia is still struggling to reduce waste creation, on a private and commercial level. Between 2016 and 2017, we generated 67 million tonnes of waste, with two-thirds of that amount coming from the construction and demolition industry as well as the commercial and industrial sector.
Any waste reduction solutions aimed at businesses need to be cost-effective. Companies need to turn a profit, so if decision-makers see waste reduction as either a cost saver or profit generator, they will start to take the necessary steps.
George Tsiamis, National Sustainability & Procurement Manager at BIC Services, has been advising businesses on waste reduction for over 30 years. He shares his tips for delivering cost-effective waste reduction solutions to businesses.
Minimise waste creation
“The best and cheapest way to reduce waste is to avoid creating it in the first place,” Tsiamis said.
“I often ask businesses to look at their supply chains and see if there are opportunities to opt for items that have less packaging. Most cleaning supplies will have refillable options, so by opting for those over single-use, businesses will usually make significant waste and cost reductions.”
Opt for a zero-bin policy
“I encourage all clients to adopt a zero-bin policy. If there are bins under every desk or scattered throughout the building, there's increased risk of waste streams getting mixed and contaminated. It also adds to cleaning and waste collection costs.
“Centralised bins mean waste is pre-sorted, and it creates significant savings on waste collection,” Tsiamis continued.
Stimulate awareness in the workplace
“Another drawback of desk bins is that employees have no awareness of how much waste they are creating,” Tsiamis commented.
“If employees have to walk to the bin and sort their rubbish, they become more aware of what is going to landfill and what is recyclable. This could mean they bring food with less packaging, avoid printing or decide to re-use things before throwing them away.
“The less waste your employees create, the lower your waste collection costs are,” Tsiamis said. “So educating your staff and encouraging a low- or no-waste workplace could create significant savings.”
Waste isn’t all about plastic bottles
“Conserving natural resources is just as important as limiting how much waste goes into the bin,” Tsiamis urged.
“Water is our most precious resource, especially living in a country that is so prone to drought. Water is also expensive, so water-saving efforts should be included in any waste reduction plan.”
Reporting is essential
“Every strategy needs to be measured,” Tsiamis said. “It’s impossible to tell how successful your efforts have been if you aren’t collecting data on your waste production.
“Modern reporting technology means the whole process can be automated. You can even access detailed reports which show your recycling rates and total waste production. This information is vital in steering future waste reduction strategies and cost-saving initiatives.
“Ideally, this reporting will be customisable and capable of providing detail down to various areas within buildings,” Tsiamis continued.
“This level of detail ensures strategies are targeted. So if a particular area of a building is producing more waste than others, reduction efforts can be placed there without wasting time on areas that are already delivering efficiencies.”
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