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Strategies to get to Zero Waste in your organisation

By Mike Pienaar 25th August 2021 Social Responsibility

While many of us are committed to managing our waste better within our organisations, it’s not always that easy to do in practice. Learning from international case studies and sustainability managers who have gotten it right, will help South African corporations put the correct strategies in place to pursue the goal of Zero Waste To Landfill. Then there’s the important step of choosing the right service provider when it comes to your waste management - one with both the capacity and the values in place to prioritise minimal waste to landfill. 

We’ve heard the statistics. Only 10% of South Africa’s waste is recycled, according to a 2018 report by the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries. The remaining estimated 98 million tons is deposited into landfill sites each year. 


How do corporations lead the way?

Zero Waste To Landfill (ZTL) is the buzz phrase in our circles but what does it mean in practice?

As you know, Zero Waste doesn’t have just one definition, and the phrase can often be used by companies to talk about slightly different things. Companies can go gung-ho and aim to eliminate waste to landfill; where not even a used pen can be landfilled.. 

That may be the long-term vision but for most, Zero Waste is the ideal - a guiding goal. It pushes us to do better as businesses who are invested in extending the life of South Africa’s rapidly filling landfills. This can be done while saving money, being compliant, and creating an opportunity to talk through your company’s commitment to the environment with a company who specialise in the diversion of waste from landfill such as WastePlan. 


Find a waste service provider that has the right strategies and processes in place to get your company to Zero Waste. 


As a business, ZTL means that ultimately you will become part of a circular economy, where one business’ waste becomes another’s resource.


Whatever your industry or wherever your location, the principles of waste reduction for a corporation are largely the same. One company leading the way globally is Ford Motors. Sustainability managers in South Africa will know that ZTL is not a one-step task but is a journey to be embarked upon. Ford’s sustainability, environment and safety engineering director, Andy Hobbs, confirms this. 


Eating the elephant one bite at a time, so to speak, makes sense with a goal as ambitious as ZTL.  Hobbs advises. “Establish aggressive short-, intermediate- and long-term goals to eliminate waste being disposed of in a landfill, and include percentage reduction goals, as well as deadlines for accomplishing such goals."


With that said, here are the top strategies to help you get further along on your Zero Waste journey:


  1. Define what Zero Waste means to the company.
  2. Conduct a waste audit. This will go a long way to creating a purpose-built solution tailored to your waste needs while identifying possible roadblocks that need to be addressed early on. 
  3. Break down the Zero Waste goal into smaller, measurable tasks. Be realistic with these tasks, and document these in larger company meetings as you go. 
  4. Choosing a waste service provider for your business is probably the most important step. Choose a service provider that shares your values when it comes to ZTL. It’s easy to simply remove waste, and do a perfunctory recycling job. If Zero Waste is your goal, it’s crucial that your waste service provider prioritises disposing only the minimum waste to landfill. This is something we’re passionate about at WastePlan. 
  5. It is imperative to get your colleagues on board. As with any organisational change, one department or individual cannot drive it. Buy-in across the board is needed.
  6. Share your successes! It’s important to further motivate your team and your colleagues in management. It also serves as a great marketing opportunity, to appeal to green-minded consumers and investors. 


Ultimately, Zero Waste plans are only as good as the strategy and the execution thereof. Get this right from the start, with the right service provider in place, and the rest will follow. 

Looking for a waste service provider who will get you to Zero Waste? Contact us to take the next step towards future-proofing your business.

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Mike Pienaar

Author Mike Pienaar

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