Businesses as well as householders are coming under increasing pressure to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill. Fortunately, it has never been easier as more and more options are becoming available to help reduce waste, many of which not only help the environment but also save, or even make, money.
What is a Zero Waste Culture?
DuPont, the international chemical company, can boast a zero waste culture. Between 2008 and 2011 the company reduced its waste-to-landfill from 40,000 tonnes to zero. Similarly, at one of it Australian sites, courier company DHL took its waste-to-landfill from 25% down to 7% and saved £3,000 a month in the process. DHL streamlined all processes to minimise waste at every opportunity, while DuPont greatly increased recycling and found innovative ways to deal with materials that couldn’t be recycled. The company now grinds down left-over corian, a solid surface material that is impossible to recycle, and sells it on as a road surface aggregate. Both companies also send non-recyclable waste to plants which use it to generate electricity.
Zero Waste Ideas
Achieving a zero waste culture is not as difficult as you might think. Here are some ways your business could achieve it:
- Conduct waste reviews – there are organisations out there that will help businesses to manage their waste. By performing a thorough waste review, firms can make significant savings, not just in the amount of waste they produce, but in the costs of dealing with it too.
- Sell your recyclables – some recyclable materials, such as scrap metal, plastic, cardboard and PET bottles, can generate significant sums when sold on in large quantities. Commercial waste management operators will collect other recyclables to keep them from landfill.
- Get staff involved at work and at home – schemes are popping up all over the country to encourage people to recycle their used goods. Clothes retailer H&M will give shoppers vouchers in exchange for bags of their unwanted clothes. Old and even broken technology is also worth money. There are many companies who will buy unwanted mobile phones, computers, DVDs, cameras, TVs, games consoles and tablets very simply and quickly.
- Make compost – food waste can be turned into compost so look at ways to collect unconsumed food.
- Generate electricity from waste – even non-recyclable items don’t need to go into landfill as they can be burned to generate electricity in specialist plants. This process involves carefully removing any recyclable materials from the waste and burning it to produce super-heated steam, which drives high pressure turbines to produce electricity. The smoke produced is cooled and filtered to prevent harmful toxins being released into the atmosphere. Not even the ash leftover goes to waste as it is recycled into aggregate.