9 - Challenges of Going Zero Waste

Going Zero Waste This Year? 5 Challenges You May Encounter

In Waste Management by David FahrionLeave a Comment

Is your high amount of business waste generation becoming a cause for concern to you and your valued customers?

The Global Waste Generation Statistics reveals that the United States accounts for 12% (about 300 million metric tons) of the global municipal solid waste (MSW) generation, mostly resulting from our modern lifestyles. 

The Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) defines zero waste as “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of all products, packaging, and materials, without burning them, and without discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

Is going zero waste the best way your business can help save the environment?

As a property manager or director of operations, it is your responsibility to ensure your business operates on the most sustainable policies. Although achieving zero waste is not as easy as it sounds, it has a lot of long-term benefits for your business and the world in general.


Knowing that going zero waste is not an easy decision to make for your company, we’ve put together this complete resource to show you what you stand to gain by taking the bold step to go zero waste, the challenges you are likely to face, and how to deal with them.

Here’s the outline:

  • What is business waste?
  • What is the importance of business going zero waste?
  • What are the challenges businesses face when going to zero waste?

What is Business Waste?

Any waste generated during any commercial activity is called business waste. This also includes waste generated by people who use part of their homes to run a business. 

Also, business waste includes wastes that come from demolition, construction, agriculture, and industries. The type of waste produced depends on the industry.

What is the Importance of Business Going Zero Waste?

Every business all over the world generates tonnes of waste yearly. If combined, it will amount to almost a billion tonnes each year. This amount is increasing every year. The increase is caused by population growth, lifestyle change, increase in fast and convenient food eaten, new packaging materials, and technology.

Disposing of waste has a huge environmental impact and can cause serious problems. Reducing waste means less environmental impact, lesser waste of resources and maximum energy use, and saving of valuable money.

There are many things business owners can do to reduce waste, and the authorities have put more schemes in place to help manage these wastes produced by business owners. It is so easy that often, doorstep collections are carried out for the recycling of glass waste, paper waste, plastic waste, etc.

In all these, the most sustainable way your business can help save the environment is by imbibing a zero-waste lifestyle.

The following are 4 importance of your business going zero waste:

       1. Environmental Benefits: 

Disposing of waste has huge environmental impacts and can cause serious problems to plants, animals, and humans. In some countries, business owners burn or bury their wastes in landfill holes made in the ground or old quarries. 

The implication of this is that some waste will eventually not rot, hence it will pollute the soil, cause a smell, or generate methane gas, which is explosive and contributes to the greenhouse effect. This is also the same when the wastes are burnt. 

Leachate generated when waste decomposes may cause pollution. If the landfill sites are badly managed it may attract vermin or cause litter.

Burning waste, aside from the harmful greenhouse effect, causes another major problem. When plastics are burnt, for example, they tend to produce a toxic substance called dioxins. 

Gases produced during burning cause air pollution and contribute to acid rain, while the ash from burning may contain heavy metals and other toxins. Because of these problems, there are active campaigns against waste burning. However, burning waste can generate energy and there are operational schemes.

When your business goes to zero waste, it will help solve the problems mentioned above. 

Business going zero waste means converting all business waste, by all means, through reuse, consumption, packing, and recovery of the products and materials without burning, discharging to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.

       2. Business Reputation:

Going zero waste helps business owners to attract new customers, enhance their chances of winning contracts, and improve customer loyalty by demonstrating their environmental responsibility through recycling efforts.

Are you trying to gain the love and respect of the press?

Poor waste management brings negative press, and this, in turn, can cause havoc on your customer base. On the other hand, a little good waste management can attract new customers, build loyalty, and encourage referrals. 

When your business is known to be eco-friendly, which reduces hazards to the earth and human health, it will help improve your reputation with both clients and other businesses.

Other businesses seek out partners and vendors who share their environmental policies. So, if your business is going zero, make sure you’re communicating your eco-friendly efforts to the public and your partners.  

It is equally very important to include your eco-friendly business policies on your website and social media handles so that your customers will be up-to-date on your programs and progress.

       3. Reducing Waste Costs: 

Managing and handling waste comes with huge financial responsibility, but reducing the amount of waste you send directly to the landfill can bring help to reduce the financial burden.


In every business environment where every penny counts, taking the business to zero waste makes good financial sense. The more glass, paper, packaging material, pallets, aluminum cans, and other items that go in the recycling bin, the lesser the waste that will end up in the landfills. 

Besides, many companies charge less to haul recyclables than trash. Also, this will reduce the number of trash pickups, and if you can document waste reductions, you may be able to negotiate a lower waste management fee. 

Businesses of all shapes, sizes, and industries can positively benefit from going zero waste. Depending on the country or state where you live, there may be country or state tax credit, grant, or tax incentive opportunities available for certain businesses that have gone zero waste. This money saved can go a long way to help reduce the cost of running your business.

You must know that recycling still uses energy, so the most cost-effective option is to always reuse or reduce resources when possible. Regulated items can be especially expensive to dispose of, so a significant reduction of items like hazardous or toxic waste can help avoid fines, penalties, or the need for costly permits.

       4. Meeting Legal Obligations:

When taking your business to zero waste, you don’t need to be worried about penalties, fines, or worse. Businesses in some industries have a legal responsibility for the disposal of specific products; taking your business to zero waste means avoiding penalties, fines, or jail. 

As a business owner, you have a legal obligation to ensure that you produce, store, transport, and dispose of your business waste without harming the environment. This is called your duty of care. There is no limited time for duty of care.

You are always responsible for your waste from the time you produced the waste until you have transferred the waste to an authorized authority. However, your obligations do not end when you hand over the waste to the relevant authority. It extends along the entire chain of management of your waste. 

What Are Challenges Faced by Businesses When Going Zero Waste?

Does taking your business to zero waste mean that no waste will be generated by your business?

Absolutely not!

Going zero waste in your business means working hard to generate less waste, and the less waste generated can be reused or recycled. It is important to know that zero waste is very achievable if you set realistic goals. With a gradual shift in mindset and actions, you will see yourself achieving your set goals.


The following are the likely challenges that you might face when going zero waste:

       1. Cost of Waste Management

The first challenge faced by many businesses when deciding to go zero waste is the financial requirement. Managing business waste from the point it was produced to when it ends up at the relevant authority requires a financial commitment. 

Because of this, many business owners want to shy away from going zero waste. When business owners learn of the huge expenditures, they take a step back. 

Most people aren’t willing to pay for the equipment or invest in a waste management program. That is a pity because, as mentioned earlier, doing so results in cost savings when we look at it from a long-term-gain perspective. 

As surprising as it may sound, waste management provides such benefits. The issue is that the benefit isn’t immediately visible but with time, you will begin to reap from going zero waste.

       2. Contamination When Sorting

Containers like plastic, glass, and any other suitable material in food waste can affect the quality of your recycling collections, which can also increase treatment costs. Thus, it takes additional time and effort to eliminate contamination.

Also, employees can be exposed to chemicals and all kinds of hazards daily, so it is not just about going zero waste but you spending more on improving the safety processes as well. 

What could happen if you don’t improve safety performance? 

The answer is simple, your employees could get hurt, and this will affect their performance. It requires more effort to follow all the necessary precautionary measures during the collection, possession, treatment, and disposal of the waste, whether it is plastic waste you are handling or glass waste. 

       3. Finding Effective Business Waste Management Solutions

Taking your business to zero waste makes sense from an environmentalist standpoint. An environmentalist will tell you that going zero waste minimizes the impact on the environment and saves money while doing so. Since that’s true, finding a waste management solution isn’t easy and poses another challenge on its own. 

Getting a manager that can meet several criteria, like increasing recycling rates, reducing waste expenditures, and complying with the legislation is not easy. 

Is it possible to get good managers of business waste? 

Yes. Waste Control is one of such companies that will manage your waste when you want to go zero waste irrespective of the size of your business. All you need to do is reach out to them and tell them what you need.

       4. Training of Employees

Unfortunately, going zero waste is not what one man can handle most especially if several other people are working in the company. No business can go zero waste without training employees on waste management


So, if you want your business to genuinely go zero waste and improve how you handle your business waste, then it is important to make sure that your staff members are properly trained.

Many of the employees may not even know what needs to be done and neither do they understand what is required of them when it comes to managing the waste they generate. 

Taking a course in waste management is therefore essential, but it requires money. 

This is also challenging because every time a business employs a new staff, some amount of working time and resources will be used to train the new employee. However, it all pays in the end.

       5. Space for Recycling

Collection and sorting of waste materials for recycling require space that may be difficult to find in your business premises. Sometimes the little space provided for sorting and recycling may be full and the waste collectors will be nowhere to be found.

This makes business premises to be littered with wastes, and that’s not good for business. You will need to call your waste collectors now and then to come and collect the waste, otherwise, your waste bin will be filled with waste.

The only way out of this is by getting a bigger office space or seeking assistance from a professional waste management company.

Can Your Business Afford to Not Go Zero Waste?

Though it is quite disheartening to see how much waste is piling up and negatively affecting the environment, it is not too late to make a change. By working on your habits at work, you too can join in accomplishing zero waste at work.

Are you unsure about how to kick-start a zero-waste business environment?

Waste Control offers the best possible waste and cost reduction services. With our help, you can get the most out of recycling opportunities while striving to attain a zero-waste business.