Is waste a problem for my business?
Tackling waste is no easy feat for a business. Waste data is often poor quality and difficult to attain. Many businesses have little understanding of how much or what waste they are generating, where it is going and what impact it is having on the environment. Regional variances in legal requirements, infrastructure and technology make the role-out of global strategies even more challenging.
Office waste in the form of food and food containers, paper and electronics is a massive contributor to waste produced. In general, for every 1,000 employees, an office generates 240 tonnes of waste in a year – equivalent to 24 buses. If your offices have onsite catering operations or you host events, then these numbers may even be significantly higher.
Waste is a circular problem, so it requires a circular solution. Many businesses try to tackle waste by focusing solely on their own operations by ensuring recycling bins are available across the sites. However, the key to zero waste is designing out waste before it is even created. For example, to stop low-quality, non-recyclable materials entering your site which would then be disposed of to landfill, you must work with procurement teams, contractors, and suppliers to improve the materials that are entering your site. Tapping into circular solutions such as sending your coffee ground waste to cosmetic companies to make new products, or turning them into pellets for fuel, are all exciting and innovative business opportunities.
Adopting a zero-waste strategy
The ultimate goal of zero-waste is to send zero rubbish to landfill, and to opt for sustainable and reusable alternatives. Zero waste is also not a single-person or single-team effort. To effectively tackle waste, you must successfully engage all teams that impact any materials entering or leaving your site, as well as ensuring that your upstream management and procurement practices are in line with your zero waste goals.
Many businesses do not know where to start on zero waste and working towards a circular economy model. There are multiple standards and certifications out there, making it difficult to assess what the best option is for your business. Not knowing where to start on waste is a problem, but there are frameworks out there enabling your business to reach it’s zero waste and circular economy goals – a standout example of this is TRUE.
TRUE certification as a route to zero waste and a circular business
Without a clear structure, strategy and goals, it can be hard to know where to begin on zero waste – there are so many pieces to the puzzle. TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) certification is the standout option when it comes to implementing a zero waste strategy. It is the only zero waste certification that uses the internationally recognised zero waste definition (ZWIA), championing the highest and best use of materials in line with the zero waste hierarchy, with a large focus on upstream practices. It aims to help businesses define, pursue, and achieve their zero waste goals, reduce their carbon footprint, and support public health.
TRUE zero waste certified facilities have a competitive advantage.
Businesses that are TRUE certified reduce costs and improve their bottom line.
Reduced waste = reduced waste haulage spend, and reduced procurement spend.
They progress faster and promote positive environmental practices in the built environment. They foster strong total participation, and are able to showcase their responsibility and commitment to the environment.
TRUE is an all-encompassing approach to zero waste:
|Classic waste management||TRUE zero waste approach|
|Divert waste from landfill, after its been generated||Eliminate the production of waste in the first place, through reuse, redesign, and reduction strategies|
|Focus on your own operations||Focus on upstream practices|
|Minimal employee engagement||Strong employee and team engagement|
|Basic waste management practices in place||Designed to spark innovation and closed loop systems|
|Complying with the minimum||Leadership in waste management|
Big, leading multinational corporations such as Tesla and Microsoft have already certified their facilities. Tesla has demonstrated how working towards zero waste can have huge financial benefits for your business. By diverting 97% of its waste to landfill, the Tesla manufacturing site in California have saved over $30 million in 2016.
However TRUE is applicable to any size of business with a physical site/facility, including buildings owned by businesses, property managers, schools, government agencies and non-profits. For example, the Ecover in Belgium have implemented a composting system to ensure that all food and garden waste is converted into usable compost, which is used on-site.
How can we help your company work towards a circular economy and achieve zero waste?
Even if the TRUE zero waste certification is not for you, our experts will work alongside your teams to develop your very own zero waste programme, specific to your operations. We will map out the materials entering your site to understand what materials, products or services you need to tackle first. We will work with you to identify the best solution for those materials – what can be eliminated, what can be avoided, reused and recycled. Depending on your level of ambition we will develop a programme that will give you quick wins to help your business stand-out, or a longer term zero waste strategy.
Senior Consultant, Avieco