Australian businesses send 6.5 million tonnes of waste to landfill every year.
It's a growing problem and one that isn't going away anytime soon. David Attenborough's latest documentary, Our Life on Our Planet, sheds light on the disturbing effects humans have on the environment. But if there's one choice he could get people to make, it's to reduce waste. "Don't waste anything. Don't waste electricity, don't waste food, don't waste power. Just treat the natural world as though it's precious, which it is. And don't squander those bits of it that we have control of."
More businesses are starting to see the value in being 'for good' first over 'for-profit' first.
It's more than saving money, reducing waste and giving back to the environment. Managing waste has also become a vital factor for buyers and brand perception.
A good product or service is no longer enough to win a consumer's support.
Today, people are more aware and sensitive to environmental issues, demanding eco-friendly alternatives that are produced and packaged using sustainable methods. Ethical 'green' practices are things most people care about.
Here are ways you can be waste efficient and add greener practices to your business.
Break the Addiction to Convenience
Australia relies on what's easy.
But with statistics showing how bad plastic usage and lack of waste management is, convenience suddenly seems more corrupting than it's worth.
Break the addiction by reducing habits that revolve around single-use products. Look around your workspace. What could you switch for reusable? If you use or supply coffee capsules, change to stainless steel instead of compostable pods. Encourage the use of refillable water bottles, compost kitchen scraps and check packaging to limit what's going to landfill.
Reduce landfill waste
If you want to reduce waste long-term, recycling isn't a sustainable solution; it's a bandaid.
Plastic waste makes up 660,000 tonnes of waste sent to landfill. We've been dependent on this synthetic material for so long. Now we're drowning in it.
Naturally, you reduce waste when you break the addiction to convenience. Choose to reuse major culprits like plastic packaging. Other ways to minimise your business's waste are:
- Understand the real cost of materials which end up in landfill - factor in energy use during the processing stages and handling/storage costs
- Recycle electronics - look for technology recycling programs that allow trade-ins
- Limit or stop paper usage - shed existing paper waste to make packaging material
- Reuse materials - could your waste materials be useful to other local businesses? For example, send used coffee grounds to urban mushroom farms
There are also grants and funds to support businesses that want to manage waste better.
Did you know? Only 12% of plastics are recycled. To help fix this problem, plastics waste exports will be banned by 2021 in Australia.
Audit your facilities
Auditing allows you to uncover valuable data about the waste your business generates. It streamlines costs, minimises landfill trash and saves you money.
Use the audit to:
- Purchase smarter
- Find areas of improvement
- See which products can be switched to reusable options
- Change you and your team's habits
- Stop wastage
- Be more efficient with raw materials
By using sustainable practices, you encourage these behaviours in others.
Going green starts with reducing waste. It also means you must practice what you preach when it comes to eco-friendly consciousness.
Sustainability is now a priority. Food waste, plastic in oceans and global warming can only slow down by businesses and consumers making greener choices.
Green your business by:
- Choosing to reuse
- Participating in the zero-waste movement
- Using eco-friendly materials
- Following sustainable manufacturing guidelines
Invest in Products with Staying Power
The easiest way to limit waste is to use, produce and sell products designed to last the distance.
It'll make you think long-term, give you more cost-effective benefits, boost the health of the planet and future-proof your business.
When you segregate waste, you see how much you're wasting.
You'll also learn about the types of waste to be more efficient with how you're handling them. Different trash has different purposes. So, segregate as part of your audit to find areas of improvement.
- Use separate bins for each waste type category (eg: organic, man-made, dry, wet, non-recyclable, recyclable)
- Segregate non-biodegradable waste into recyclable, toxic and e-waste
- Compost almost anything damp or squishy
- Practice proper waste disposal
Ask Your Local Rubbish Company for Help
If you get stuck, speak to waste removal experts about a system for your business
This can help position you as a green company, ensure safe removal and fulfil zero waste initiatives.
What's good for the planet is good for business.
Becoming more waste efficient betters the environment, increases business efficiency and lowers the costs of running your business.
What tips will you use to make a difference? Leave your answer in the comments below!
Written by Jayde Walker
This article is written by Jayde Walker - the Perth copywriter behind the little typewriter who recommends eco-friendly businesses like Pod Star. This NSW-based company has saved over 10 million single-use coffee pods from landfill with fully reusable alternatives.
Header photo by Naja Bertolt Jensen on Unsplash