Reducing Waste


Introducing The Issue 

The collection, transportation and disposal of rubbish, sewage and other waste materials become increasingly important as populations grow, become wealthier and more resources are used. Squandering resources is evidently unsustainable and increasingly morally unacceptable. Further, waste commonly poses significant harmful impacts to both the environment and to people. Waste can and should be designed out of all business processes.

Questions For Managers 

Responsible 100 has developed a number of introductory questions to help you explore this important issue and your organisation's exposure to it. Please respond with as much relevant information as you can. These questions are available via this Google Form.

Questions For Employees

Responsible 100 has developed a number of questions specifically for employees. They are designed to enable people working in the organisation to share their thoughts, observations and opinions on this important issue. Please respond with as much relevant information as you can. These questions are available via this Google Form

Benchmark Performance Statements

  • EXCELLENT - Waste reduction and elimination is of strategic and fundamental importance to the business. A holistic approach is taken, which includes policies and tools to identify and address waste management within the business and up and down its value chains.
  • GOOD - The business demonstrates a commitment to promoting proper waste management with clear practices and policies in place to address multiple factors.
  • OKAY - The business takes steps to reduce waste on ad hoc basis; OR waste management is not relevant to the business.
  • POOR - Performance is below expectations, the business fails to take adequate steps to manage waste, the business's waste disposal practices are harmful to society and the environment.

Responsible 100 creates and develops detailed benchmarks on each of the issues we explore. Each benchmark identifies and defines different levels of performance as either POOR, OKAY, GOOD or EXCELLENT. A general statement describes those four performance levels in summary. Under each statement, examples of the sorts of policies and practices businesses are observed pursuing are listed, usually broken down into categories, e.g. Policies & Procedures; Target Setting, Measurement & Reporting; or Leadership, Advocacy & Culture. Some such lists include 50 or more examples. The above reveals the current summary statements only. The complete benchmarks are shared with those organisations which, through offering answers to the above questions - and any other relevant details about what they do, how and why - help to shape and improve the benchmarks on an ongoing basis.


Exploring The Issue

The collection, transportation and disposal of rubbish, sewage and other waste materials become increasingly important as populations grow, become wealthier, and more resources are used. Squandering resources is evidently unsustainable and increasingly morally unacceptable. Further, waste commonly poses significant harmful impacts to both the environment and people. Waste can and should be designed out of all business processes.

A lot of waste can be 'invisible' in that it might not be obvious that your organisation is producing it. For example, energy can be wasted on inconsiderate use of lighting and heating, and the unnecessary idling of computers and appliances. Poor maintenance can lead to energy inefficiency.

The amount of waste, and types, vary from organisation to organisation. Manufacturers, for example, are much more likely to produce much more waste, and more different types of waste, than other businesses.

Campaigners have had recent success in encouraging businesses away from designing in ‘built-in obsolescence,’ which is designing products which cannot be repaired, where broken components cannot be swapped out for new ones, or that need replacing so that the company can make new sales sooner than would otherwise be required.

Some products have been conceived and designed to tackle our waste problems head-on. For example, Fair Phone formed, in part, as a response to large manufacturers building in obsolescence in this way. Fair Phone creates phones that last, with an emphasis on sustainability, affordability, and easy repairs.

Fair Phone also encourages its customers to recycle old phones by sending them back to it, contributing to something called the ‘circular economy’ by recycling e-waste and helping put wasted material back into the economy.

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible. Some more examples of businesses that live and breathe the circular economy include Toast Ale, which brews beer from wasted bread, Trove, which provides companies with the ability to buy back and resell their used product, AMP Robotics, which categorises recyclables in an efficient and error-free way, and Winnow, which helps kitchens identify how much and what kinds of food they’re wasting.

Definitions

There are 5 basic categories of waste which apply to practically everyone: manufacturers, businesses, and individuals. They are as follows:
>> Liquid waste
>> Solid rubbish
>> Organic waste
>> Recyclable rubbish
>> Hazardous waste

Waste management is the collection, transport, processing, and recycling of waste materials, while waste minimisation is the prevention and reduction of the use of materials, water, and energy consumption at the source. Drivers for an organisation to devise and adopt a waste minimisation strategy over a management strategy will depend on its size, sector, circumstances, priorities and opportunities.

A waste audit will likely include:
>> Identifying all activities that produce waste
>> Identifying ways to stop making waste
>> Eliminating unnecessary waste production
>> Determining how to reuse unavoidable waste
>> Thinking about how to track progress in achieving targets for waste reduction

Links, News And Further Resources

Coming soon...
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