With the continual fight against climate change, businesses are expected to make differences in their management to improve their sustainability. One route many are taking is to go zero-waste.
In fact, companies such as Morrisons are even attempting to shift to a fully zero-waste store by 2025. But what does zero-waste actually mean and what steps can your business take to keep in line with this goal too?
What does zero-waste really mean?
When it comes to waste, you might be thinking of everything your business typically gets rid of during a week. And if all your waste is going to a landfill or incinerator, then you’d be right.
However, you probably have a recycling bin somewhere in the business right now that isn’t actually producing waste. As long as you’re segregating and making a conscious effort to reduce what you send to landfills, you’re already on your way to reducing your waste.
It is important to note that zero-waste doesn’t happen overnight as it can involve shifts in processes throughout a business that produce waste. Take, for example, your hotel kitchen. It would take time to transition from using ingredients which rely on wasteful packaging to recyclable materials. Allow your company the time to adjust to the new ways of working, and research how you too can start dropping your waste numbers.
Ways to achieve zero-waste
Work with a waste management company
Working with a waste management company is one of the best ways you can achieve a zero-waste goal, especially if you don’t have the resources or understanding in-house to achieve all you want to. A total waste management system can ensure you’re firstly minimising any waste you produce, and only then ensuring you are disposing of it correctly. They then can even offer strategic advice when it comes to planning and designing out your waste.
Nathan Gray, Head of Sustainability at Reconomy, experts in waste management, says: “Achieving zero-waste doesn’t have to be a difficult task when you have all the facts – ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’. By taking on a waste management system, you can get the technology, data, insights and initiatives you need to achieve your sustainability goals.
“Making sure you’re keeping up with legislation or industry standards for sustainability, whether you’re in hospitality, construction, facilities or another sector, is crucial. With a heightened focus on climate change, making sure your business is making the vital steps to reduce your carbon footprint is more important than ever.”
Recycle and reuse
Where possible, make sure you’re recycling and reusing equipment or waste products that can have multiple uses. Carry out a waste audit to analyse how much waste you are producing, which service lines are producing the most, and what types of waste you are producing. This will help you better understand your wastage and where it can be improved.
This will give you an indication of how much your waste is costing you too, as wasted products can be costing your business money. Analysing your waste, redesigning products and implementing sustainable changes, can help you reduce your waste.
For example, if your customers are using single-use hand towels, you might want to swap to recyclable or reusable hand towels. While the initial purchase price might be higher for sustainable items which are easily reused, they pay off over time. You just need to put in place a circular solution.
Other considerations could be, if you’re buying in products which come in single-use plastic wrapping, you might consider discussing this with your supplier or swapping for one with similar sustainability goals and who use recyclable packaging.
This is where the partnerships you make are crucial. Your carbon footprint isn’t wholly reliant on what you produce, but also on what you buy into your venues and how you handle them.
Another way to reduce your waste, especially if you’re going through a renovation, is to donate usable equipment and furniture to charities, local authorities, schools, libraries, or other companies in need of a start-up boost.
This will also connect your business closer to the community, as you donate your belongings to those in need. This can be a rewarding way of removing unnecessary items, giving them another life without putting them into a landfill.
Educate your staff
Education is crucial when it comes to any transition in business, but even more so when it comes to sustainability. This is a whole company shift, and so it is a whole team effort to make sure that the necessary actions are in place, whether this is ensuring recycled items are being placed in the right bin or that your staff are educated around what zero-waste actually means for them.
This also ensures that all venues are aligned. If you’re a hotel chain with multiple locations, ensuring each is following procedure and contributing to the zero-waste goals is essential, and this comes from adequate training for your management. Try an away day or collective company meeting to instil these values into your employees. We can also share best practice learning from one site to another to help share that knowledge.
A good sustainability strategy involves everyone. This could be within the company as an employee training day, finding good partnerships with companies with similar sustainability goals, or working with a waste management team to truly understand and correct your waste procedures. Whichever way you go about reducing your waste, if you’re reducing your landfill and incineration waste, the impact on the environment and climate will be positive.