Having an effective business waste management plan is fast becoming an essential component of a comprehensive business strategy. The reasons for this are both financial and environmental. As the landfill capacity diminishes, the cost of waste disposal rises. In the UK, the landfill tax increased from £7 in 1996 to £88.95 in 2018/2019. And the more waste we produce, the greater the negative impact on environmental resources.
Disposing of business waste can be expensive, but there are various ways in which to reduce these costs – starting by reducing the amount of waste your office produces in the first place.
#1 Keep recycling within reach
People are more likely to separate their waste for recycling when it’s convenient for them. Attach a small recycle bin to every general bin – make sure that it’s labelled and visible so that it doesn’t require any extra effort on your staff’s behalf.
You can also create a small recycling centre in your staff kitchen by providing bins to put returnable bottles, non-returnable bottles, and paper.
Where your waste is collected, have the correct number of bins to avoid a certain type of waste going in the wrong bin.
Remember to recycle your e-waste – cell phones, computers, printers and other equipment can often be recycled.
#2 Go paperless
Although paper can be recycled, the biggest impact comes from using less paper in the first place.
Reduce paper waste by creating a paperless office. First, check if this is feasible. Together with your teams, identify where you absolutely need paper and where it can be avoided. From this process, you can come up with a ‘paper policy’, consistently enforced across the organisation.
Nowadays, the digital era can allow businesses to go paperless, or even just use less paper. Here are some ideas to reduce (or even eliminate) your paper use:
- Use online file collaboration programmes
- Add a “think before you print” message on emails
- Get your employees to set their defaults to print double-sided in draft mode
- Reduce margin settings so that your printer uses less paper
- Put a paper recycling bin next to the printer
- Buy paper with a high percentage of recycled content
- Buy refillable toner and ink cartridges
- Distribute agendas, memos and meeting minutes via email
#3 Start a waste-free challenge
Teams set aside all their non-perishable, non-recyclable waste generated for a given week/ month/ year. The team with the least waste in their container wins a prize. Creating a competition around reducing waste gets teams’ competitive spirit going, makes them more aware of the waste they’re producing, and can be a lot of fun!
#4 Reduce food waste with a food waste meter
You’ve heard of smart meters for energy, but what about smart meters to track food waste? Systems of today can provide you with a simple touch screen connected to waste bins that weigh each item. Staff are required to log everything they throw away – where it comes from, the food type, and the specific product.
Kitchens can then track where the most food is being wasted and take steps to reduce this. For example, by reducing portions of frequently leftover dishes at staff canteens.
#5 Share your office space
Consider office sharing: If you have a number of employees that don’t use the office regularly, consider assigning offices based on a schedule. You’ll save on utilities, equipment, furniture and more. Take a look at staff scheduled and work out if you can allow employees to work from home on set days to reduce your office waste and lower your carbon footprint.
#6 Be water-wise
Don’t stock disposable plastic bottles at the office. Rather install a filtered water tap, a water cooler, or keep jugs of filtered water in the fridge. You can provide your employees with a high-quality, reusable bottle with your company’s branding. You’ll be saving on plastic bottles, promoting employee wellness and you’ll get free advertising when your employees use their bottles outside the office.
#7 Consult with a commercial waste collection expert
There are so many ways to reduce waste at the office – it all starts with having an effective business waste management plan and using a good waste contractor who can advise you on the most cost-efficient methods of waste handling.
A business waste management consultant like Smarter Business can help you find the right waste supplier for your needs and advise on steps you can take to reduce waste and recycle it more effectively.