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Setting the record straight | Waste management myths

By Bertie Lourens 21st February 2019 Waste Management

Debunking some common myths around waste management

When it comes to the world of waste disposal, don’t believe everything you hear. There can be some fiction lurking amidst the fact. Here are a few big waste management myths - and the truth to debunk them.

Myth #1: Landfills are a viable solution.

Truth: Landfills are not the long term solution. They are, in fact, a short-sighted and unsustainable response to our waste management woes. Landfills don’t take waste costs into account, nor can they absorb the exponential demand of human overpopulation. Not only do they generate unmitigated knock on effects of air, water and ground pollution - they limit critical opportunities to recycle and reuse our resources.

Myth #2: Waste management is, and will always be, pricey.

Truth: Not so. Your goal is to find that provider who will prove you wrong by giving you a transparent window into their well-oiled operations. A good waste management partner is committed to streamlining its services so that costs go down, while efficiency goes up.

Myth #3: Recycling isn’t as eco-friendly as we think.

Truth: Critics argue that recycling uses more energy than if you were to make the product from scratch. But the Environmental Protection Agency would say differently. When compared to making the same product brand new, energy savings amount to 95% for recycled aluminium; 60-74% for recycled steel and tin cans; 60% for recycled paper; and 30% for recycled glass and paper. At the end of the day, stats suggest, recycling saves energy.

Myth #4: Biodegradable waste is not all that bad.

Truth: In spite of what we all assume, biodegradable waste is not innocuous. It leaks methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - nasty greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. And because these gases decompose too quickly, landfills won’t even able to harness their energy. Biodegradable waste, like food waste, takes a serious toll on our environment.  By separating your organic waste and sending them to a Bio-methane plant, we can capture these harmful gasses and turn them into energy. Ask your waste service provider to help you achieve this.

Myth #5: You have to separate your waste into 5 streams.

Truth: Your recyclable waste items don’t have to be sorted to be recycled. More often, companies are using single stream systems where All the mixed recyclables gets thrown into the same bin. Machines and, more often, human hands are quite skilled at sorting and consolidating your materials on site, and optimising their reuse. As long as all the organic material have been removed from the waste stream, it is quite easy to recover all the valuable recyclables from a mixed recyclable stream.

Myth #6: (And on that note….) We don’t have to rinse our recyclables.

Truth: Granted, you don’t have to scrub your materials til they shine. But keep in mind that, the cleaner they come, the more money can be channeled directly towards its intended purpose of being reused and recycled. A cleaner load also translates into better health and safety for those employees handling your waste on site.

Myth #7: If we want to go green and expand our business footprint, we’ll have to learn to juggle contracts.

Truth: If you work across different locations, you shouldn’t have to manage different contracts based on region. Nor should you have to work with multiple vendors regarding your waste streams. Your service provider should handle your full waste portfolio and consolidate your activities in a way that is accountable and intuitive.

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Myth #8: To have a sustainability strategy in place, you need big bucks and a big team.

Truth: A successful sustainability plan doesn’t have to come with a big price tag and multiple teams to roll it out. You can be a small business and embed your business plan with an effective waste reduction strategy from the onset - one that will not drain your budget nor require huge HR investments.

Myth #9: Our company’s small efforts won’t make a difference.

Truth: Au contraire! Did you know, the energy savings from one aluminium can you recycle can save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours? If so, how much more can your business positively impact the environment with an efficient waste strategy and partnership in place?

So now that you’re more empowered with the facts about waste management, interested to see how your company is performing? Let’s do a waste audit and let you know.

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Bertie Lourens

Author Bertie Lourens

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