Aiming For Zero Waste to Landfill

Not so long ago, waste and recycling services for Australia businesses were largely confined to the separation of paper for recycling. Now, new techniques and technology takes zero waste to landfill targets so much further, and makes a company’s nil contribution to landfill not just good environmental practice, but good business as well.

In times of corporate belt-tightening (for many brought on by the global financial crisis), green and environmental initiatives would, for many, seem an unlikely priority. But the reality on the ground is that many large multinationals are scrambling over themselves to make sure they get the right processes and people in place to not just plan for, but to actually deliver, zero waste goals.

For example, early last year the American behemoth, General Motors, achieved zero waste targets at a staggering 81 of its plants. Honda was close on its heels, with over 70% of its North American assembly line and manufacturing operations also achieving the coveted label.

These giants of the automotive industry have realised what we at T2 Environmental learned some time ago: that zero waste targets deliver solid and measurable financial benefits.

These can range from reduced waste disposal costs to actually generating revenue from on-selling recyclable and reusable products and off cuts. This can drive returns on the bottom line, and also reduce a company’s carbon footprint – as well as boosting, in the eyes of consumers, priceless social responsibility credentials.

So as an Australia business, what can you learn from these large companies about how to implement a zero waste target?

The first step is undoubtedly convincing your company’s decision-makers about the need to do so. The economic case, as well as the less tangible benefits, together form a compelling argument.

Depending on the size of the business, once management is on board, the decision might move to an audit committee. Just like a financial audit, the job of a zero waste audit committee is to look for every possible inflow and outflow of waste-producing assets in the company as a whole. The added benefit is that through a thorough audit, layers of waste and repeated processes that can be eliminated are often found, often further increasing the corporate benefits.

For example, a DHL Australia site managed to find over $60,000 of monthly savings simply by reducing the amount of waste they sent to landfill.

Once an audit is completed the three ‘Rs’ come into play. These form an intuitive process that can be incorporated into all decision made at the company which are:

  • Reduce the amount of resources used to get to the end product/service,
  • Re-use whatever possible and wherever possible, and,
  • Recycle those things which no longer meet the businesses needs.

The other obvious crucial step is to encourage every corner of the business to adopt the zero waste policy. This largely hinges on good communication, and selling the initiative using a range of tools. These can focus on the corporate goals, the positive community aspect, the altruistic-looking after the future? argument, or the personal benefits that come from a less wasteful, more profitable corporate culture.

To encourage and reinforce good behaviour, things like interdepartmental or floor based competitions to meet reduction targets and celebrating small wins at the start of the process are crucial. These things can go a long way towards entrenching the habit as part of everyday decision making, rather than a short-term initiative.

Once you begin examining the benefits, zero waste to landfill is a great business-level goal from which every organisation can benefit. However, in reality, time, size and resource availability stops many businesses from achieving this on their own, and that?s where T2 Environmental can step in to help businesses towards their zero waste targets. We can provide our waste management services throughout Australia.

To learn how we can help your business by delivering environmentally focused waste and recycling services, our T2 Environmental team welcomes your call today on 1300 578 707, or alternatively please?contact us.

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