Are you thinking about how your organization can reduce waste? If an employee asked you how the company is doing on waste management, would you be able to answer? If you’re looking for a place to start, we can point you toward some great free resources.
Easy place to start – Recycling
How do you know what you can recycle and what you can’t? Each city is different so it’s best to contact your local government (city or county) to ask what they accept. However, the US Environmental Protection Aegncy (EPA) has good guidance on generally what’s accepted in most areas. They even have a nifty poster you download and print to put up over each recycling bin to help take the guesswork out of which bin to choose.
Conduct a Waste Audit – Believe or not, they can be fun!
We recommend that you begin your waste management process with a waste audit for your business.
What is a Waste Audit? It’s a way of understanding your waste streams – type of waste and amount of waste – in order to start the process of creating a waste reduction program/process. This includes landfill, recycling, composting as well as any type of industrial and processing waste. The audit is done within a given timeframe, usually a week but could be longer if your organization doesn’t produce much waste in a week. You can also do project specific audits if you want to concentrate on a specific timeframe of output.
Simple Waste Audit Guide
You can find out more of what a waste audit entails and how to go about conducting one for your business from this simple guidance document from the city of Long Beach, CA. You can always hire someone to do it for you, but if you’re not generating much waste, it’s easy to do it internally for free – all you need is a little employee engagement! (see more on employee engagement below)
More in-depth Waste Audit Guide
You can also read more in depth about the benefits of waste management by this great US EPA guide: Why should you care about preventing waste?
When you’re ready to conduct the audit, the city of Denver has a simple waste audit tool that’s easy to use. Here’s one of the steps:
Credit: Denver Environmental Health
Think About Employee Engagement
Employee engagement usually works best with a bit of creativity. Create teams, have a contest for which department can generate the least waste, take funny pictures when you do your waste audit to show what’s a no and what’s a yes in the recycling bin.
You can carry over your employee participation by providing some easy steps to also reduce in the home. There is so much information about easy individual waste reduction out there but here is a good place to look if you’re overwhelmed. The Nature Conservancy is a non-profit that helps both businesses and individuals do good for the planet. Check out their 8 ways to reduce waste.
Ready to go further?
Want to go further or is your organization already farther along on the waste reduction path? Check out The Waste Reduction Model (WARM) and it’s corresponding resources by the EPA for small businesses. They have lots of great information about how to involve your community, apply for certifications, and much more.