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Reuse, reduce, recycle, renew: The journey to zero waste to landfill [Pt2]

By Bertie Lourens 9th May 2019 Recycling

Although a ‘zero waste to landfill’ strategy isn’t necessarily easy to implement, its down-the-line wins are worth your company’s investment. Part 1 of this blog unpacks some of these benefits and aims to whet your appetite for more conversation around the 4R journey.

In Part 2 we go a bit deeper. How can we start turning all this talk into tangible action? And how will that actually improve your business model over time? Have a look:

1. Take the proverbial dumpster dive 

You need to get in there. Okay, maybe not literally…but then again, maybe you should. Do whatever it takes to understand the nature and flow of your current waste streams - their composition, volume, origin and destination. What percentage of your waste is paper,  metal, electronic etc, and where are these materials heading off to? So often money is wasted because we don’t know the latent value of what we are throwing away.

Quick win: An audit will give you a good overview of the way you’re generally handling your waste. It will help you identify wasteful habits, operational inefficiencies, and reveal opportunities for fresh financial gains.

2. Change what’s not working.

Easier said than done, right! The key is, don’t address everything at once. Start with one thing and work from there. Choose one product, or packaging item, or part of your production flow that needs tightening or tweaking. Chances are, improving on that specific component will create a knock - on effect to your bottom line and organisational vitality.

Quick win: When you streamline your product lifecycle you eliminate unneeded materials from your waste streams and cut back on associated costs like fuel and transportation. This unlocks new market opportunities that were previously buried under unnecessary overheads. 

3. Aim at ‘less is more’.

For all its fantastic benefits, recycling is not your #1 option. First prize is not to use those recyclable materials in the first place. Get ruthless about waste reduction; eliminate paper cups from the office, substitute polystyrene with reusable products, and take away the non-essentials that exacerbate your budget and waste volumes.

Quick win: A change in protocol will inevitably boost savings and generate new revenue streams. Also, better habits will produce better mindsets around our ecological responsibility that carries beyond the office walls.

4. Make it easy for your people to own the vision.

It takes a lot of courage and hard work for leaders to successfully build a ‘zero waste to landfill’ strategy. But without the entire team adopting the vision, your strategy will surely sink. Be sure that your strategy is not handed down, but co-crafted with your colleagues, whose input and feedback informs the final set of solutions. When your strategy is in place, implement a communication plan that makes sure everyone understands the why as much as the what and how of your new plan.

Quick win: As studies keep showing us, higher employee engagement yields a magnificent ripple effect throughout your company. Productivity and profitability go up, while staff turnover rates go down. People are less apt to take their talents elsewhere, because their contributions have value where they are.

5. Choose your partners well.

And in all this, your choice of waste management provider is key. A good waste management provider is always one step ahead, and aiming to exceed your company’s articulated needs. This partnership should empower you with practical ideas and insight into better waste management. You should be able to sleep easy at night, knowing that your business is in reliable and competent hands.

Where to from here on this zero waste to landfill journey? Download the ‘What is recyclable and what not’ infographic.

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Bertie Lourens

Author Bertie Lourens

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