BUSINESSES can gain huge benefits from reducing, reusing, recovering and recycling waste.
According to the government help website, Business Link, the priority should be to reduce waste in the first place.
There are plenty of easy wins to be had in most workplaces. Printing and photocopying double-sided paper, refilling refilling printer cartridges, switching off lights and electrical equipment, and using rechargeable batteries are just some.
Some other issues need more careful thought. Buying in goods and services carefully means buying in only what a business needs, controlling stock and streamlining processes.
Equipment can be bought in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging and durability can be assessed so that equipment has to be replaced less often.
People using packaging should consider ways to reduce the amount of materials they use.
Business Link says the best way to achieve significant reductions in the amount of waste that your business produces is to adopt a strategic and systematic approach.
US carmaker Ford has announced a commitment to cut water use by 30 per cent and reduce landfill waste by 70 per cent across its European plants.
The company’s five-year sustainability strategy is set to save the multi-national firm more than 1 billion litres of water and €2.3 million in costs.
Incredibly, Ford’s UK Dagenham site could become close to achieving zero landfill.
For the car company sustainability makes as much sense for the business as it does for the environment. With the cost of resources set to rise, taking a thrifty approach is surely the most sensible. You don’t have to be a tree-hugging eco-freak to believe that.
The law is also on the side of the eco-thrifty. Businesses now face increased legal obligations for their waste.
In some industries, the producers also have legal responsibility for the disposal of their products, such as packaging, electrical and electronic equipment, batteries and vehicles. Adopting better waste practices makes it easier to comply with existing regulations and enables you to be better prepared for any new legislation.
The penalties for failing to manage environmental risks properly can be substantial. Damage to reputation, disruption to business, or even prosecution and a hefty fine.
Experience in the UK suggests that businesses across a range of industries can save four per cent of turnover by employing waste minimisation techniques, says Business Link.
Costs can be reduced on managing and handling waste, buying goods and materials. Companies can reduce the amount they pay out in landfill tax by reducing the amount of waste they send to landfill.
And, what’s more, businesses could attract new customers and win contracts by showing environmental responsibility.
There may even be a potential income stream if firms sell high-quality recyclable materials, for example construction materials.
Waste exchanges such as letsrecycle.com give price information and specifications for a range of products including compost, glass, metals, paper and board, plastics, textiles and wood.