Waste management costs encompass the expenses associated with the collection, transport, treatment, and disposal of waste materials generated by individuals, businesses, and communities. These costs can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the type and quantity of waste, local regulations, and the chosen waste management methods.
For individuals, waste management costs are often minimal due to them being covered by government services, such as local council bin collections. Conversely, businesses encounter more substantial hurdles when it comes to waste reduction and associated costs, with their waste burden being significantly greater and more complex to manage. These costs are often dependant on the size and type of the business in question.
Waste management can be a substantial expense for businesses. For most organisations, the cost of storing and disposal of waste typically sits at around 5% of turnover. Landfill tax and other associated costs continue to drive up the price companies are paying to dispose of their waste. Future environmental legislation is likely to continue this trend of increased prices for waste disposal, encouraging businesses to prioritise reducing the waste they produce and invest in recycling schemes.
Besides improving your bottom line, there are obvious ethical and societal benefits that are brought about by ensuring your business values efficient waste management. It’s important for businesses to portray a responsible image that promotes environmental sustainability and encourages this approach amongst its employees and customers.
Streamlining your waste management processes can help you drive down your costs while simultaneously making your business’s operations more sustainable.
Let’s take a look at how we can reduce their waste management costs by making some specific changes.
A waste audit is a systematic process of assessing and analysing the generation, composition, and management of waste within a specific business. The primary goal of a waste audit is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the types and quantities of waste being produced, how it is managed, and to identify opportunities for waste reduction, recycling, and cost savings.
You can perform a waste audit in-house or pay for a 3rd party to carry one out for you. Regardless of which approach you take, a waste audit should conclude with some recommendations on how to realistically minimise the waste generated by your business, therefore passing on some significant savings in terms of waste management costs, provided you commit your organisation to effectively implementing the recommendations.
It could be argued that a waste audit is the critical first step for any business that wants to get a genuine understanding of their waste profile, allowing them to make informed choices that can lead to cost reductions.
Gathering data can be a crucial step for those who are serious about reducing waste management costs. It helps identify waste sources, quantify waste volumes, and optimise processes. By using this data, businesses can prioritise cost-saving initiatives, identify recycling opportunities, and ensure regulatory compliance. Additionally, waste data serves as a baseline for setting waste reduction goals and engages stakeholders in waste reduction efforts.
If you don’t have one already, a waste policy is an excellent way of ensuring clear guidance exists for employees with regards to waste. Any good waste policy should specify the commitments that you have made to minimising waste and how employees can uphold these commitments through appropriate processes and procedures.
Your waste policy should be treated like any other company policy, expecting members of staff to always adhere to them. Continuous violation of your waste policy should be treated as seriously as any other policy violation, which may include disciplinary action.
If you’re collecting data on your waste generation, setting specific targets for waste reduction can be an excellent way of ensuring that your business has accountability for its waste creation and cost minimisation. By setting targets you can provide those responsible for waste management within your organisation with goals that will deliver meaningful reductions in cost and real benefits to the environment.
Remember, when setting targets, you should always make sure they’re realistic and specific in nature. Assign responsibility for achieving these targets and monitor progress towards them throughout the year.
Reducing your waste is one of the most obvious ways of minimising any costs associated with its management. Simply put, the less waste you produce, the less you have to pay to store and dispose of it.
One way of doing this is by implementing the 5 Rs methodology within your business. The 5 Rs of waste management are: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle. This approach encourages you to refuse the use of wasteful products within your business’s operations, reduce their use where possible or consider reusing and repurposing materials. Finally, you can consider recycling materials that are unsuitable for the previous 4 solutions.
Each of these steps can help divert a considerable quantity of waste away from landfill if you’re not already practising them. Organisations that operate according to the 5 R principles are likely to see a substantial decrease in their waste management costs for this reason.
For those who produce a lot of waste, compressing it into bales can be a more cost-effective option than loose waste due to the reduced volume. Most businesses who bale their waste will have a lower collection fee due to the ease of managing their reduced size, in addition to less frequent collection requirements due to the ease with which bales can be stored and the quantity of waste that can be contained within them. Essentially, baling is an effective space saving practise that means you and your collection partner can dedicate less space to the waste that your business creates.
Some of your waste may have hidden value. To efficiently sell your business waste, it’s essential to find the appropriate buyers. This involves researching local recycling centres, shops, scrap metal dealers, waste brokers, and specialised companies that are interested in purchasing specific materials or items. Once you understand the types of waste that have demand, you can begin planning how you can separate this waste and prepare it for sale. You can find buyers for everything from electronics to food waste within the UK.
Reviewing your waste disposal contract can help reduce waste management costs by identifying inefficiencies, negotiating better terms, exploring competitive offers, and aligning services with your actual needs. It also provides opportunities to consider sustainable practices, clarify responsibilities, and prevent penalties or fees, ultimately allowing better budget control.
You should investigate your current arrangement to ensure that the service meets your specific needs, and that you’re not paying for additional services or provision that your business will not use. You may want to attempt to renegotiate your disposal contract if you believe it’s not currently meeting your requirements.
Collaborating with local businesses can help reduce waste management costs by sharing resources and splitting costs. A collective waste collection agreement between local partners can reduce the burden on waste collectors by making their collection routing more efficient, therefore lowering the price. You may also find it’s easier to negotiate a discounted rate through the power of collective bargaining. Finally, collaboration with other businesses has been shown to enhance the share of best practise, giving you insight as to the tactics that others are using to bring their costs down.
Reduce landfill waste and lower commercial disposal costs by participating in recycling rebate programs. There are many waste collection services that will partner with you in offering these kinds of schemes, most of which offer initiatives with cash rewards for recycling various materials like cardboard, plastics, and aluminium cans. These programs encourage responsible waste management and ensure you’re offsetting the cost of your waste management processes where possible.
Depending on your type of business, you may be able to capitalise on the innovation of the bio-waste industry. For those who produce a lot of organic waste, a bio-processor is an option that can turn your waste in to an environmentally friendly soil enricher, reducing its volume by 80%. There are also companies who will recycle your old cooking oil for free, transporting it from your business address to their recycling centre, where it’s turned in to biofuel.
Not every one of these methods is a realistic option for every type of business. Limitations in budget, resource and time may mean that you may have to select a few of the approaches mentioned to create your own waste cost minimisation strategy. However, we hope that this article has armed you with a variety of means by which you can move forward confident in your ability to begin minimising your costs and improving sustainability.
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