Waste is a Sign of Inefficiency. Try Zero Waste in 2021.
January 14, 2021
January 14, 2021
As many U.S. offices welcome back their workers after weeks of stay at home orders, a new set of safety practices and protocols are emerging. For companies returning to the office soon, here's a summary of best practices suggested by a few leading organizations in workplace and realty management.
Friday, January 8, 2021
Waste is a sign of inefficiency. Miriam Webster defines waste as:
...damaged, defective, or superfluous material produced by a manufacturing process: such as
(1) : material rejected during a textile manufacturing process and used usually for wiping away dirt and oil cotton waste
(2) : scrap
(3) : an unwanted by-product of a manufacturing process, chemical laboratory, or nuclear reactor...
Biological processes create waste, but do so in a way that efficiently extracts vital ingredients and discards the rest, which then become food for other organisms. Industrial processes, on the other hand, produce goods with a shorter life span and more packaging, by using unnecessary material during manufacturing or transportation, leading to more waste.
According to a World Bank report, the amount of waste generated will double by 2025 to 6 million tonnes per day. Higher income levels and urbanization contribute to more waste per capita because of increased access to consumer products in cities. In the US alone, per capita waste generation is around 4.4 lbs per day, about a quarter of the world's waste, but only 34% is being recycled or composted.
Assuming current demographic and per capita waste production trends continue, waste generation will peak after 2100. If population growth increases, this peak will occur even later.
Only in a scenario with a smaller and wealthier global population with more sustainable consumption patterns does garbage volume peak this century. See the chart below:
Read more here.
The solution is not to recycle and compost more, but to design the process to produce less waste (extremely less!) in the first place. Enter Zero Waste.
Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) defines 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.”
ZWIA advocates for 90% or more diversion from landfill, incineration (waste to energy) and the broader environment (littering).
What does this mean for your business or institution?
If you haven't already done so for your business or facility, conducting a waste audit is beneficial for the following reasons:
-Understand the composition of your waste stream. For example, how much plastic waste vs aluminum cans vs food waste is generated by your facility.
-Keep track of all waste by weight or volume so you can compare against later audits.
-Document by commodity to stay aware of trends that affect secondary markets. Import bans by China, which took effect Jan 1st 2018, impacts curbside recycling of certain materials.
-Become more streamlined by producing less waste, decreasing costs and helping the environment.
-Publish a yearly open sustainability report for your clients and employees.
Green Building Certification Inc.’s True Zero Waste Certification program suggests tracking waste by following categories:
The first and most important step in achieving zero waste is to get buy-in from key stakeholders including management, employees and facilities. When the upper management is convinced to adopt a zero waste goal, it instills a strong culture throughout the organization that becomes the new norm.
A program that highlights its zero waste mission and incentivizes its employees and suppliers to hit diversion targets sees better long term benefits. IKEA has set the bar high when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with its People and Planet Positive Strategy.
Even as it sets aggressive targets to double sales by 2020, it strives to divert 90% waste from landfill from its operations and 80% or more from its stores and distribution centers. 95% of IKEA co-workers state that "sustainability is a natural part of everyday work".
Review Supply Chain
Congratulations! If you have made it this far, don't forget to evaluate the impact of this exercise by summarizing the results.
For more info on how to perform an automated waste audit, quantify your waste reduction, cost savings and environmental benefits, contact us and one of our experienced Zero Waste advisors will get in touch with you.
The first and most important step in achieving zero waste is to get buy-in from key stakeholders including management, employees and facilities. When the upper management is convinced to adopt a zero waste goal, it instills a strong culture throughout the organization that becomes the new norm. A program that highlights its zero waste mission and incentivizes its employees and suppliers to hit diversion targets sees better long term benefits. IKEA has set the bar high when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with its People and Planet Positive Strategy.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
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