Commercial property owners face unique challenges when it comes to waste management. After all, unlike homeowners, commercial property owners don’t have the luxury of disposing of their garbage and other waste through regular garbage pickup. There are of course haulers who will just pick up waste from your facility and transport it to a waste disposal facility or a landfill but you will soon find that it is not a viable long-term solution for your waste problem.
Instead, you need to find ways to get rid of your waste in an environmentally-friendly manner. A rubbish bin or a garbage bag isn’t going to cut it anymore. Today’s businesses require more from their facilities than ever before. You need proper waste collection and disposal along with waste recycling to battle issues such as climate change. Sustainability is a core aspect for most businesses and without ideas like waste sorting, you will never meet your sustainability goals or keep up with environmental protection regulations.
Source separation of waste is a concept that helps immensely in such cases. This blog will discuss some of the advantages of source separation and how you can implement source separation in your business today. Let’s go.
What is Source Separation?
Source separation simply means that you have a process by which different types of waste are separated at the point it is being produced and ensures no intermingling with other types of waste. This essentially promotes that all the waste materials of one type end up together and can be collected at the end of the day or at regular intervals and processed separately.
Source separation is crucial in commercial waste management. There has been a lot of push recently to enforce the waste separation in the case of municipal solid waste and household waste. Typically in the case of MSW, the curbside collection divides the waste as wet and dry waste and picks these up separately. This is further sorted and separated at materials recovery facilities or MRFs. The recyclable materials are collected and sent to recycling facilities while the materials that cannot be recycled are sent to landfills.
Similarly, in a commercial setting, instead of a separate MRF, waste sorting happens within the facility and can further be processed at the respective recycling systems or disposed of in landfills or incinerators.
Why You Need to Be Source Separating Your Commercial Waste
A properly-managed source separation program can ensure that your commercial waste management is a streamlined process and does not devolve into chaos. A non-separated waste stream will most likely result in a high cost for you as you would be paying your hauler significant amounts to haul these materials off your facility. In the case of source-separated waste, you get higher-quality waste materials and you can process these separately. This will keep your costs under control.
It can also help you earn income from selling recyclable materials. Several of the waste products you have are commodities that can be sold to vendors who would be using it as raw materials. This helps you earn additional income which can supplement the waste management costs. However, only high-quality waste materials will fetch premium prices. Source separation ensures that your waste commodities are clean and can fetch premium prices when being sold.
One other benefit is getting to track the quantity of each type of waste you are producing easily. Tracking and record keeping are important to know how efficient your waste management process is. It also helps you recalibrate the number and volume of waste bins you gave and the locations they are in. Another advantage is that it helps you figure out ways to reduce waste as much as possible. If you see that you are producing a lot of plastic packaging waste, by switching to a different form of packaging, you can eliminate this form of waste. It can also help you find ways to reuse some of these waste materials such as plastic bags and textiles. These materials are likely to be clean as they are separated out at source and not contaminated by other materials.
Source separation is also a great way to make sure that you recycle as much waste as you can and that only some of the waste that is not recyclable is disposed of in landfills. Organic waste such as food scraps and yard trimmings is a great example. When sent to landfills, they are digested anaerobically which releases large amounts of emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane which is a major cause of global warming. A simple process of composting can take care of this. Separating organic materials from the source ensures that you can easily deal with organic waste yourself or by sending it to a composting facility.
Source separation of waste is an essential part of waste management strategy if you are to keep up with the regulations and take your business closer to zero waste. It helps you process the various types of waste separately and helps keep materials such as hazardous waste away from other forms of waste as much as possible.
How to Implement a Waste Separation Program for Your Commercial Facility
Implementing a waste separation program in your commercial facility is a task that involves multiple stakeholders and processes. Here’s how to implement a waste separation program in your facility.
Start With an Audit
The best way to begin is by conducting a thorough waste audit for your facility. An audit involves sorting and measuring the different types of waste you are producing in your facility over a designated period of time. This will help you determine the various types of waste you are dealing with, in what quantities, and which processes or departments are producing the different kinds of waste.
Understanding these will help you plan out your source separation process in a better way. You will know what waste containers to place at each location, what volume of containers are required and how you can separate the waste materials at the source in the cleanest way possible.
Define Processes for Separating Waste
The next step in the process is to define the processes to separate out waste at the source. For this, you will need to look at the different types of waste and the sources of these waste materials. The process should define how the waste materials collected at the various recycling bins can be aggregated, measured, and stored for further processing.
If required, you should also include further processes that may be required for some of these waste types. For example, assume you have plastic waste which may need cleaning and drying before it can be processed further as it has been contaminated by food materials. Define the process and allocate resources to ensure that this cleaning process takes place.
Create a Plan to Dispose of the Different Types of Waste
The next step is of course dealing with the various types of waste you have aggregated. Finding vendors or recycling programs that can take the various types of waste is the best way to deal with it. While finding vendors, ensure that they can take in all of the waste you are producing. You do not want to end up having to find other vendors because the current vendor cannot handle the capacity. Some waste commodities can also be baled and sold to buyers. Finding these buyers will help you get a good amount for your waste which can help you reduce your overall cost.
Train Your Employees
A source separation program does not happen without the buy-in and active support of your employees and other stakeholders. Educate them on the process and how to separate these materials at source in the cleanest way possible.
Education is not just limited to training programs. Print information booklets, posters, and signages that can help your employees, vendors, and customers comply with the process and dispose of the different types of waste in separate bins without mixing it.
Track Your Process and Optimize Results
Finally, keep track of the different types of waste that you have produced and how you have processed this. Having a record of the amount of waste sent to recycling centers, landfills and other facilities will help you remain compliant. Analyzing the numbers will certainly help in keeping your process optimized.
Implementing a full-fledged source-separation program will help your business derive the best results from your waste management program. By ensuring that the various types of waste are separated out, you can process them further easily and can even get better prices for the waste commodities you produce.
Waste segregation at the source, though incredibly useful, can be hard to implement. Seeking help from experts is the best way to go. At Waste Control, we take care of the waste management needs of our clients end-to-end. We help organizations audit their waste, implement a source separation program and find the right vendors to dispose of the waste in the safest and most efficient way possible. We help our clients optimize their waste strategy and reduce waste management costs. Get in touch today to talk to our experts!