Making changes to your personal life to reduce waste is relatively easy. You can layer up to avoid using the heating, ride your bike instead of taking the car, and buy loose vegetables to reduce plastic waste, all of which will make you a more efficient user of precious resources. Businesses, on the other hand, face more formidable challenges to minimise their wastage, and in the process reduce their waste management costs.
However, formidable isn’t the same as impossible – there are manageable changes you can implement to make your business more efficient in terms of waste management, improving your eco-credentials at the same time. Most of these changes don’t just make you more efficient from a resource-use perspective, they can also save you money.
Importance of waste management for your business
Outside of the obvious benevolent benefit of reducing your business’ impact on the environment, you might wonder what the tangible benefits of becoming more efficient by reducing waste are. These are some of the most important factors to consider.
Save money on operational costs
Business waste management and disposal is expensive (some estimates put the average cost at around 4% of turnover), and with landfill taxes rising (from £91.35 per tonne in 2019 to £94.15 per tonne in 2020), it’s costly to ignore business waste as an area of potential saving.
An effective waste management plan informs how waste is produced while identifying areas of potential savings and change. Reducing the use of raw materials and increasing the re-use of certain items can lower outlay significantly.
It matters to your customers and clients
Ethical waste management matters now more than ever. All businesses are now under the scrutiny of their eco-conscious customers and clients to implement sustainable environmental practices, including waste management.
Becoming a more efficient manager of your own waste can play a big part in how responsible you’re seen as being as an organisation by the people who matter most – your target market.
You must comply with waste management law
Business waste management regulations are enforced for environmental and health reasons. There is a duty of care that applies to all business waste, and failure to adhere to these regulations can result in substantial penalties.
Cutting costs with a waste management plan
Avoid landfill waste
For offices, one of the most impactful changes is reducing the amount of waste that you send to landfill. Landfilling is the least preferable waste management option, and EU regulations strictly control it. By 2030, the EU aims to have completely revolutionised the way that we use landfill and waste management – setting an excellent example for its member states.
Choosing alternatives to landfilling can also cut your costs. You can do this by using methods that minimise the footprint of your waste or smooth out internal processes to make it as easy as possible to recycle more of your waste.
At Bunzl CHS, for example, we continuously review the impact of our landfill waste. In 2006, we invested in bailers at our branches, to compact the cardboard and plastic waste, resulting in the diversion of thousands of tonnes of waste intended for landfill to be recycled.
The EU’s targets are centred around recycling because it’s one of the best methods of avoiding waste and stopping landfills from becoming easy ways out for companies to get rid of unwanted materials.
These easy-to-follow business recycling tips will help you implement a sound recycling strategy right away.
- Provide employees with reusable water bottles and lunch boxes to avoid wasted packaging materials and the use of non-recyclable plastics
- Reuse office items such as binders and scrap paper instead of throwing them after one use. Scrap paper can be perfect for making notes, for example, saving the pristine paper for client or customer-facing documents
- Recycle used batteries and printer toner cartridges rather than throwing them away
- Buy clearly marked recycling bins for paper, plastics and cans. Segregating your waste sources and making bins available around your workplace will encourage employees to recycle
- When it comes to food waste, a bio-processor can reduce its volume by up to 80%, converting it to fuel that can power biomass burners
- As well as reducing volume and costs, the fuel produced has the potential to power your business
We, for instance, focused on reducing the amount of paper we get through in the process of printing by reusing printed sheets where possible and recycling what we can’t reuse. Currently, we are working with a leading UK paper towel manufacturer to recycle our customers’ wastepaper back into the supply chain. The recycled paper is reprocessed and recycled into eco-friendly hand towel products that we can then sell on.
As well as upping your recycling efforts, strive to cut back on material use where possible by being mindful of what you are using and whether it is necessary.
There are a variety of ways you can reduce waste in the workplace, including:
- Avoid printing where possible – some documents can be equally effective sent by email
- Consider implementing paperless processes. For instance, switching to an online absence management system can remove the need for printed holiday request forms
- Remove single-use non-recyclable paper cups and encourage the use of reusable drinks containers
- Buy supplies in bulk to reduce the waste that is generated from the packaging
- Take an inventory of the products you are purchasing and consider using biodegradable products if you are not already. Also, consider changing your products based on how recyclable the packaging is
- By choosing concentrated or soluble chemicals and using them with reusable trigger spray bottles, you can reduce the use of single-use plastics
- Improve your water supply with a filtered tap to encourage employees to drink tap water in a glass rather than buy plastic bottles
Review your waste disposal contract
If you use external contractors for waste disposal, it’s worth reviewing the contract to see if it is still fit for purpose, as it is likely that the finer details haven’t been scrutinised in quite some time.
The main thing to check is whether the contract is more comprehensive than what you need. If it is, you might be able to negotiate a lower cost by removing unnecessary elements. Lastly, check what reporting is available from your waste provider so you can monitor your waste going forward to make sure efficiency is prioritised.
How to further reduce your businesses’ eco-footprint
Saving energy wherever possible goes hand in hand with recycling and tackles environmental issues from both sides. Currently, over 85% of the electricity used by Bunzl CHS is from 100% renewable tariffs. There are several things you can do to keep your workplace energy consumption at a minimum, too, including:
- Keep your printer and photocopier off when they are not needed, rather than having them on standby
- Turn off the lights in toilets, meeting rooms, and the kitchen when you leave the room, and ensure you have an autotimer in case someone forgets
- Consider switching your lighting from high wattage lights to low wattage LED lights
- Shut down computers at the end of the day and use a black screensaver when your computer is not in use
- If you cannot control the temperature of your office, contact the building manager to ensure that the room temperature is correct. They will ensure that no energy goes to waste on unnecessary heating
Here at Bunzl CHS, we strive to lead the way in sustainability in the cleaning sector. You can read more about what we’re doing to improve our waste footprint and act sustainably here.