Waste management is a challenge for any business model and is usually treated with an 'out of sight, out of mind' attitude. It's almost like if we cannot see our waste, we do not need to eliminate it. This attitude makes business complacent and irresponsible towards the environment and society.
Many zero-waste business organisations are committed to the cause of sustainability. The new wave of eco-awareness has led businesses, small and large alike, to focus more on the waste disposal approach and to achieve what people call 'zero landfills'. It is also fuelled by the green aspirations of consumers who are continuously showing support for these initiatives.
What Is A Zero-Waste Business?
According to the Zero-Waste International Alliance, "Zero-waste means designing & managing products & processes to systematically avoid & eliminate the volume & toxicity of waste and materials, conserve & recover all resources, & not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health." This leads us to the question, how to make your business more eco-friendly?
Check out the points below that check the benefits of adopting a zero-waste business model.
1. Reduces Cost
You can reduce your business waste disposal cost and other waste management facilities. The resources needed for waste disposal, the payment to the waste-workers, various taxes etc., can be saved when your business goes waste-free. For big businesses, it can save you a major chunk of money.
2. Helps in Branding
You can boast of a 'green business' model when you are waste-free. Consumers today are very impressed when they hear about this tag that is associated with any business. It makes the business look responsible and caring, not just towards the environment but also towards their clients.
3. Competitive Advantage
You must want to remain ahead of your competitors, whether in business or achieving the goal of zero-landfill, to keep pace with the growing competition.
4. Good for Nature
Although this doesn't affect your business directly, you are doing an excellent service for nature by adopting the waste-free model. So when someone asks you how to make your business more environmentally friendly, you have an appropriate response.
How To Start A Zero-Waste Business?
This section will look at the zero waste business model and zero waste business ways that can help you go green.
1. Access your waste management
You need to start with an audit of your current waste management process along with the waste generated by your business daily. Segregate these into types and volumes of waste, and make separate containers where they are disposed. Check if you have sufficient garbage bins and recycling bins installed at the right places in your office or factory. Sometimes, due to the location of these bins, workers might just want to toss it in the closest bin instead of properly disposing of it. This process will help you determine the waste stream that your company is generating.
A professional waste audit will help you determine the source, type of waste, disposal type, location, and identify which is recyclable and what goes out. This understanding will further help in checking the waste management process for further steps.
2. Create a waste management team
Your zero-waste small business might need a designated team to check or inspect waste management. It is an essential step in getting a zero-waste business model implemented efficiently in your organisation. For larger companies, create a cross-functional team that checks the waste management of other teams. This process has been proven effective for creating a healthy waste management strategy. A project management approach would do wonders in this segment if appropriately executed.
3. Check for recyclable items
After the investigation, use the report about the types of waste tossed into the bin and talk to your workers about the waste that can be recycled but is still thrown into the bucket.
4. Set waste reduction goals
This is the main part of your action plan when planning how to make your business eco friendly. You can start by listing out your waste reduction goals and a time frame. Some of these goals could be easily converted to reality, like asking vendors to supply items in reusable/disposable packaging. Although it might mean additional charges or overall cost, it would be worth it compared to your waste management charges. Some steps may take longer, like changing the supply line to more reusable contents or a decreased input-consuming supply chain. Creating a monthly plan will ensure that you are in the right direction to achieve the waste-free business model in the designated time frame; usually, 1-5 years depending on the business size. By getting your short-term goals fulfilled, you can generate enthusiasm in your whole team for the same.
5. Develop waste reduction strategies
After you have set your goals of how to make your business more eco friendly, the major task is to reduce and eliminate waste as the first step of your waste management approach. Given below are some tips on how to reduce waste.
6. Reduce carbon footprint and save energy
It is an effective method to save energy through simple acts like switching the electrical equipment off when not in use, optimising your refrigeration/AC systems, upgrading to energy-efficient lightings, upgrading door seals and insulation and more. Beyond this, you can try to achieve a green supply chain by following sustainable practices.
7. Reusable packaging
Make use of reusable packaging and other reusable materials from your waste products. Switch to the use of reusable products from the vendor side or your supply line.
8. Check out packaging reduction opportunities
You can check on the unit load design approach to optimize the shipment of your goods. Check out the interactions between the product and the containers and optimize their storage as per requirements.
This is a method by which you can compost the disposable waste and break it down with the help of anaerobic digestion. It can help manage your waste and also promote the green cause as compost can be later used for manuring plants.
10. Consider redesigning products
In some cases, you can redesign your products and packaging to meet the green criteria for your waste management goals. Try to go for product designs that can be recycled or disposed of in nature safely.
You can become a zero-waste business by following these steps that add to your final waste management goal. Some of these steps include identifying your waste stream, waste type, disposal method, analysing how to dispose of it without harming nature, framing a waste management goal, and reducing the waste. Any business model can convert into a zero-waste business model, which is also a vital aspect of their corporate social responsibility.
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Q. Why should I go greener and reduce my waste production?
Ans. Going waste-free helps you save money and resources that are essentially used in the waste management process. It can also help you project a positive brand image and gain the trust of your customers by helping nature.
Q. How can waste reduction goals help my business?
Ans. Waste reduction goals are essential for you to come up with your waste reduction and waste management strategy. It makes your business model more cost-effective and builds a positive brand image.
Q. How can I conserve energy during office/ working time?
Ans. You can conserve energy through simple acts like switching the electrical equipment off when not in use, optimising your refrigeration/AC systems, upgrading to energy-efficient lightings, upgrading door seals and insulation and more.