Reducing Waste

Introducing The Issue 

Squandering resources is unsustainable and increasingly unjustifiable. As populations grow, so does resource use and the collection, transportation and disposal of waste. Waste commonly poses significant harmful impacts to both the environment and to people. Waste can and should be designed out of all business processes.

Describe What You Currently Do 

Responsible 100 has developed a number of introductory questions for both managers and employees. Our short question sets enable these key stakeholders to explore this important responsibility issue, relevant to their organisation, and to begin to describe current practices and views. Please respond with as much relevant information as possible. Nothing you submit will be shared or published without your permission.

Benchmark Performance Statements

  • EXCELLENT - Waste reduction and elimination is of fundamental importance to the business. The business may have been founded with the sole or main purpose of tackling waste. A holistic approach is taken, which includes policies and tools to identify and address waste within the business and up and down its value chains. The business actively monitors and reports on its progress on waste reduction. Its practices and footprint result in an overall net-positive impact on the environment. Stakeholders are routinely made aware of the importance of waste management and circular economy models through informational sessions and other forms of communication. 
  • GOOD - The business demonstrates a commitment to promoting proper waste management with clear practices and policies in place to address multiple factors. While further steps may be available to the business, all simpler and higher impacts steps have been taken already. The business is most likely overall net-neutral in its impacts on the environment. Stakeholders are made aware of the importance of this issue to culture, strategy and the overall business model.
  • OKAY - The business understands the need for proper, integrated waste management but currently only takes steps to reduce waste on an ad hoc basis. There is a willingness to prioritise the issue but budget constraints inhibit proper best practices and progress. A coordinated effort to monitor and mitigate the waste output of the business is either in its early stages or nonexistent. The business has an overall net-negative impact but admits as much as is open to addressing ways to reverse current trends. In most respects it is making progress towards better waste management. Or the business explains why this particular issue is neither relevant nor material to its operations. 
  • POOR - Business performance in respect of waste is below stakeholder needs and expectations. The business fails to take adequate steps to manage waste and most likely benefits financially from maintaining current wasteful practices. Its harmful effects on the environment are evident although not acknowledged. Scientific knowledge on these negative impacts are either ignored or discredited. Even when options to reduce waste are simple and accessible, the business fails to act.

Responsible 100 creates and develops detailed benchmarks on each of the issues we explore. The above reveals only summaries of the current statements describing POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT performance standards. No policy nor practice examples are included here. The complete benchmarks are shared with organisations which, through offering answers to the above questions, help to shape and improve the benchmarks on an ongoing basis. Find out more about our benchmarks here.

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.


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


Advantages of Reducing Waste

This article gives some examples of how reducing waste can benefit your company. The benefits listed in the article are more direct benefits than the climate and moral implications of reducing waste in your business.


WRAP: Taking Action on the Climate Crisis

WRAP is an NGO focused on tackling the climate crisis in order to provide a more sustainable future. Latest news of reducing waste are available on their website.

Managing and Reducing Wastes: A Guide for Commercial Buildings

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a US government source whose mission is to protect human health and the environment. Their webpage is a useful resource for finding ways to reduce waste at your own company. 

Profit Through Ethics Ltd

Responsible 100 is delivered by Profit Through Ethics Ltd, a business registered in England with company number 4769798.
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