Being a zero waste business is a great way of managing waste to streamline processes to make them more efficient. By reducing the amount of waste created in your business, you can help the environment and save costs. In this blog we will discuss what it means to be a zero waste business, and how you can work towards that goal.
What is zero-waste?
The Zero Waste International Alliance has defined zero waste as: “a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.
Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.
Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”
What are the benefits of zero waste business?
First and foremost, the main benefit of becoming a zero waste business is the positive impact you can have on the environment. It’s easy to see the negative effect that we are having on the environment. It is our duty to change our ways to help protect the environment, not only for ourselves, but for future generations.
Additionally, being a zero waste company can also be good for your business. It can help save you money on waste management and disposal and can save you from the complications that come with company emissions and the generation of waste. By eliminating waste in production and streamlining processes, you can help improve the flow of materials and lower general costs in your business. Being a zero waste business can allow you to promote yourself as a ‘green’ company. Not only will this help you stand out from competitors, but it can help you build loyalty and trust with customers.
Firstly, you need to analyse and assess the existing waste output strategy that the business uses. By looking into every process, you can understand the waste your business produces and where it all goes. Doing this can help you to identify the inefficient wasteful processes that require improvement. You should share your vision of being a zero waste business with your employees and managers; discuss the benefits and how it will happen. It’s a team effort so it is important to get everyone on board!
Secondly, you need to evaluate your strategy and use it to plan how you can reduce the waste your company generates. You can redesign existing systems that are inefficient and wasteful. By creating more efficient processes, you can reduce the waste output and also save the company money.
The processes that should be redesigned are not just for the company production processes. It also needs to include employee processes. For example, putting reusable cups next to a water machine could save waste and money, compared to putting single use water bottles in a fridge.
Here are some examples of some changes you could make:
- You can reduce your carbon footprint by switching lights off when rooms are empty and turning off equipment when not being used. Employees could even car share to work!
- Packaging accounts for one of the largest portions of waste generated. If you deliver products, consider switching to reusable pallets or containers. This way, you are also helping to reduce the waste for your customers.
- Use recycled materials for your products, and let people know that you do! This will reduce the need for new materials to be manufactured, which could save you money and will also help the environment.
- Products should be redesigned so that they can either be recycled or refurbished for someone else to reuse.
3) Reduce, reuse, recycle
There may be certain materials that you find difficult to integrate into any redesign of products or processes; but these are not ‘waste’. You should investigate these materials to try and find a way of reducing their use, recycling or reusing them.
One of the biggest things we can do is change our mindset towards product disposal. It is a massive challenge but will reap the benefits. Let’s think back to the earlier example of using reusable plastic cups rather than single use water bottles. The single use water bottles could be recyclable, which is good for the environment. However, by using the reusable cups instead, you are cutting out the initial problem. Recycling is a way of dealing with the problem later on down the line. Reusing products is a way of dealing with the root of the problem. You can find out more by reading our previous blog “How Can I Contribute to a Circular Economy”. https://www.zixtel.com/circular-economy
In conclusion, there is no single solution to becoming a zero-waste business. The strategy suggested in this blog is only the initial step of the process. It is important to assess and update the plan regularly. Having a plan that you develop, means that you are working towards a more efficient waste management system every day.
Bear in mind that ‘zero’ waste is an aspirational goal; It may never be possible for a business to actually produce ‘zero’ waste. However, that does not mean we shouldn’t aim for it. By everyone doing a little bit towards being a ‘zero’ waste company, it will create a BIG impact.