Economic instability and downturns in the market are becoming a regular affair owing to the general disruptions caused by the pandemic these last 2 years. Most businesses are on a path of austerity. Cutting costs and improving business efficiency is the only way to survive a time of severe economic instability, which has been proven repeatedly.
While organizations mainly focus on the business side to control costs and find avenues to be more efficient, waste management practices are often overlooked! A sustainable waste management strategy is a sure-fire way to cut costs and contribute to sustainable development.
A strategic plan for integrated waste management affects every aspect of the business and focuses on reducing waste and reusing and recycling initiatives. The idea is to revamp the way you approach waste management as a whole and to ensure that you are not spending a lot to deal with waste.
Here in this blog, we look at how a strategic waste management plan can help you be more efficient as a business. We will also show how to cut costs and ensure that your business survives the downturn and comes out stronger. Let’s go.
How Does a Strategic Waste Management Plan Help?
A strategic plan is not just about dealing with the waste in the best way possible. It also involves examining all the different manufacturing processes and operational aspects of the business to find ways to reduce waste and also to reuse whatever waste materials are being currently generated. Then comes the task of handling the leftover waste efficiently to reduce the waste hauling costs and ultimately lead to a better waste stream process.
Having a more holistic approach primarily helps in understanding the different types of waste being produced by your business and the amounts of waste being generated. Can some of these be used in other aspects of the process? Say you have a lot of organic waste being produced in the form of yard waste or food waste. These can be dealt with by composting it in your facility and using the product as manure in your gardens. This is one such example where you are reducing the waste material being produced and using it for another process. Similarly, you can find other areas where waste materials can be reduced and re-used.
Taking a more strategic view also means setting goals and milestones and trying to meet them through efficient execution. This is critical for most businesses today. If you know the amount of waste being generated today and the quantities that are being recycled, you can easily set targets for waste reduction and also increase the amount that is being recycled. You can further quantify the environmental impact that you have by reducing the quantity of waste being thrown into landfills and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions saved. This is only possible with a goal-oriented approach to waste management
Being zero-waste is an aspirational goal that most businesses chase today and having a strategic approach is important to get there. You do not become a zero-waste business by default. You need to actively focus on reducing waste generation, finding uses for the waste you create, and recycling as much of the waste being produced as possible.
For all these reasons and more, having a considered approach to waste management is important. It helps organizations have a solid plan for waste management and also creates accountability within the organization and its employees.
How to Build a Waste Management Strategy that Works?
Now that we are on the same page about the need for a strategic approach to industrial waste management at your business, let’s talk about how to create a plan that is cost effective and works for you. Here is how we at Waste Control approach this when working with a client.
Set Objectives, Goals, and Milestones
The first, and perhaps the most important, of all the steps would be understanding the end goal and envisioning what success looks like. There are many ways to go about this but we recommend having a set of different goals that are all interconnected yet also independent. Cost savings is one such goal we love. Look at what your current waste disposal costs are and set a target for a lower cost. The amount you are saving will be a good boost for your bottom line.
Another aspect to consider is how much solid waste is being recycled. You may already be recycling a part of the waste you produce. Try to set a goal to increase your recycling percentage. You can
divide this up among the different types of waste you produce. Say you will recycle 80% of the organic waste that you produce. Waste reduction is also one of the areas to focus on to reduce the amount of waste you are dealing with overall.
It’s important to also look at local government regulations and incentives to understand what is mandatory to achieve. There are waste diversion goals to achieve. There are also mandatory recycling requirements for organic waste. Sending organic waste to landfills causes anaerobic digestion leading to methane emissions that are harmful to the environment. The organic waste can alternatively be used to make manure and biogas. Understanding these regulations helps you set better goals overall.
Audit Your Waste Output
One of the things we frequently do is a complete waste audit of the organization. It paints a picture for us as to what different types of waste are being produced and in what quantities. It also gives a good deal of understanding about processes that are generating the most amount of waste and how you can formulate plans to cut down on this through better materials management or finding ways to reuse these waste materials.
An audit also helps map out hazardous waste materials such as chemicals that need special focus on handling. You can also get a great idea about the equipment you would need to set up your waste management system and what are the recyclable materials that you need to be recycled.
Understanding what kinds and quantities of waste you produce also helps when you are finding waste collection services. You will be able to negotiate a better deal and the collection systems will work smoother if you know how frequently to schedule pick-ups and how many waste bins you would need. It will also help in finding the right recycling services that can handle all the waste you are generating without having to scramble to find different vendors.
Setting Up Waste Collection and Management Processes
Now we know what kinds of waste are being generated and how to proceed to create processes and deal with these. Most materials would need to be cleaned and processed before they can be sent to recycling programs. Collecting and segregating these waste materials at the source and defining how it is to be done will help in making sure that it is processed properly.
You can also define how reusable waste materials need to be handled, how the materials collected should be cleaned and stored, as well as processes such as compacting and baling.
Setting up the processes would also need input and buy-in from all stakeholders involved. You need your employees and vendors to execute the process efficiently so that you can actually realize savings and reach your goals. Training and educating your stakeholders is an important step in this process. You need their help in waste prevention, source separation, and waste recycling. Have specific outreach programs that will educate and involve these key stakeholders when you are planning for it.
Finding Vendors and Partners
Finding the right partners are crucial to the success of a waste management process. You need to ensure that these partnerships are scalable and that they can take care of all the waste you generate without having to find multiple partners.
We believe it is best to have a waste management service on board that can help you with the process of formulating a strategy and also executing it on the ground. In this case, you have to just deal with one entity and not multiple vendors.
Finding the right buyers for your waste products is important. There are buyers out there for most of the industrial waste materials. What is waste for you may be the raw material for others. Some vendors focus on cardboard and paper waste, construction materials, metal scraps, LDPE, and other such materials. Finding the right buyer would help in saving costs and you can also generate supplemental income that can offset your cost.
Procure the Necessary Equipment
If you need to execute a strategic waste management process, you need the right equipment for the job too. You can get a sense of what equipment you would need from the audit and the vendors. Compactors and balers are often helpful as they help in reducing the storage space needed for waste and also help in reducing transport costs.
You may not necessarily always have to purchase new equipment. There are options to buy refurbished equipment or even rent or lease these machines. These options will help keep costs under control and help amortize the costs over a larger period.
Track, Measure, and Optimize
Finally, you need to keep track of how your solid waste management strategy is working and how you are doing based on your goals and objectives. The metrics you define while setting goals will be of great help in measuring how you are progressing and how you can improve.
Getting a sense of where you are standing with respect to your overall goals will help you optimize the process continuously. This is something that needs to happen regularly to achieve maximum efficiency. If you find that a particular aspect is not working, you can make changes right away without having to wait a whole year.
A waste management strategy is not a one-time affair. It needs constant attention and change. Say you add a new product to your line which produces different types of waste. Your strategy should be able to incorporate these changes too.
Waste management is an important area of focus across the globe today. We are living in a world where climate change is wreaking havoc. Natural resources are finite and reducing waste is the only way to ensure a more sustainable way of living. Municipalities and local governments are highly focused on dealing with municipal solid waste(MSW), and there are strategic approaches in place aimed at reducing the per capita waste generation. Businesses can learn from this.
Industrial waste management is critical as it directly impacts the bottom line of your business. It’s easy to overlook just how costly a bad waste management system can be for your business. Waste management should be closely associated with your product lifecycle. Today it’s not just about managing waste in your business. Also, think about the waste that the products you are selling create. Can you find ways to reduce this waste too?
Having a strategic approach is certainly the key to saving costs, being more efficient, and reducing the harmful effects on the environment. You certainly cannot survive a downturn just by managing waste efficiently but it is certainly a powerful level for you to work on.
Does this sound daunting? It is certainly not an easy job but it can be made easy. Working with experts at Waste Control is one way to ensure that you have a great waste management strategy in place. Talk to us today!