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Zero-Waste Programs, Sustainability in your Business
As more and more businesses and organizations place a heightened focus on environmental stewardship and sustainability, zero-waste programs are becoming popular all around the world. With increased interest in environmental sustainability, the importance of recycling, and heightened awareness of climate change, public schools and private businesses are playing vital roles in sustainability efforts.
In an effort to work towards zero-waste (or simply reduce waste and focus on sustainable practices), many businesses and organizations may participate in one or more of the following sustainable initiatives:
- Organics diversion and/or composting
- Restructuring waste collection systems
- Sustainable sourcing
- Reducing wasteful packaging
- Designing durable products – made to be used more than once
- Replacing disposable packaging with reusable or recyclable material
- Other changes to operations to increase sustainability
Often, zero-waste programs seek to integrate organics diversion as a means to reduce waste sent to landfills, save on waste hauling costs, and reduce their carbon footprint by returning carbon to the earth via the biological process of composting.
Organics diversion and composting are essential components of successful zero-waste programs. By separating organics from other waste streams, less material is sent to landfills and valuable compost is produced. Composting helps to lower your carbon footprint and compost has the power to improve soil health as well as the soil’s ability to retain water.
It is also important to note that all zero-waste programs and sustainability efforts must be effectively tailored for each individual organization – there is no “one size fits all” solution to reducing waste and each company will have a unique way to contribute to sustainability efforts.
There are several key components of successful zero-waste efforts for businesses that include: establishing a zero-waste team, understanding waste generation, sort stations and signage, knowledge of local and state laws and regulations, and education.
How to Establish a Zero-Waste Team at Your Business
It is important to establish a zero-waste team representative for different departments within the organization. This will help organizational buy-in and help ensure long-term success with the program. Effective zero-waste programs engage key personnel and often include: a zero-waste/sustainability coordinator or director, communications and outreach, and facilities services or external service providers.
Understanding Waste Generation
To ensure the highest level of success at reducing waste, it is critical to have a thorough understanding of how and where waste is generated. Often waste is generated across all points of operations including waste generated from: upstream activities, day to day operations, and downstream activities. Successful zero-waste efforts analyze where waste is generated and take steps to reduce or prevent waste, and then ensure proper and effective disposal of remaining waste such as recycling and composting.
Sort Station and Signage
To ensure participation and to eliminate confusion (which will reduce contamination), it is important to have readily available sort stations sufficient for all waste streams with effective signage and messaging. In addition to on-going educational messaging, engagement with employees, fans, residents, etc. is important when implementing sort stations and signage. Be sure to consider the following:
- Consistent color coding signs and bins
- Photos of products on signs to help eliminate confusion
- Multiple sort locations
- Effective sign placement (for example, above sorting stations)
WCP Can Help with Sustainable Product Solutions
Contact your local WCP account manager or customer service team to chat about some of the sustainable product options we offer. We’d be happy to set up a consultation to discuss sustainable products to meet the goals of your business. Give us a call today at (877) 398-3030.