As a small business owner, you’ve likely faced the challenge of managing and disposing of your commercial waste in an efficient, eco-friendly, and cost-effective manner. From packing materials to food waste to obsolete electronics equipment, businesses across the United States generate an astonishing 7.6 billion tons of industrial waste every year.
Proper waste management and business recycling isn’t just a legal and ethical responsibility—it’s also an opportunity. A thoughtful, effective strategy for waste management can save your business money, enhance your reputation with customers, and contribute to the broader social movement towards a more sustainable, circular economy.
This comprehensive guide provides actionable advice on recycling and business waste management that businesses throughout the US can implement.
What is Commercial Waste Management?
Commercial waste management is the process of minimizing the amount of trash produced by a company while still getting rid of the waste that can’t be avoided. Responsible recycling and repurposing actions are incorporated into these plans wherever practical. When it comes to environmental consciousness and corporate social responsibility (CSR), commercial waste management is vital. A company’s environmental impact can be mitigated, operational efficiencies enhanced, cost savings opportunities explored, and public perception bolstered through proactive waste management.
Waste Management and Business Recycling Tips
Create a Green Team
Create a dedicated team in charge of organizing, designing, and carrying out waste reduction and recycling initiatives. This team should be tasked with examining your company’s environmental performance, initiating and driving forward waste reduction programs, and setting achievable yet progressive goals. Through the consistent efforts of this team, your company can foster a corporate culture that not only values sustainability but embeds it into its practices.
The responsibilities of such a group usually include:
- Policy Development: They create and uphold guidelines for waste reduction and efficient recycling.
- Performance Analysis: They track waste and recycling metrics to pinpoint improvement areas.
- Promotion of Practices: Through educational initiatives, they spread awareness about the importance of waste reduction and recycling.
- Goal Setting and Tracking: They establish waste and recycling targets with management and monitor progress.
Successfully implementing any waste management plan hinges on considered and consistent waste tracking.
Waste audits, conducted regularly, provide a detailed understanding of the types, quantities, and origins of waste that your company generates. These audits serve as a long-term investment in your company’s future, assisting you in pinpointing critical waste reduction opportunities and mapping out a precise path to sustainability. Effective waste tracking also allows you to quantify the success of your waste management strategies over time, supplying concrete data that can stimulate and direct further improvements.
Additional benefits include:
- Cost Reduction: Cut disposal costs by recognizing unnecessary waste.
- Compliance Assurance: Ensure your business adheres to relevant local, state, and federal waste management regulations.
- Environmental Impact Reduction: Identify opportunities to recycle and divert waste from landfills, lessening your environmental footprint.
Reduce, Reuse, Donate
While simple, the most effective way to manage your waste is to generate less of it, and this three-pronged strategy provides a framework to do just that.
This can be done by switching to suppliers that use less packaging or by optimizing production processes to reduce waste. More business waste can be prevented through the use of digital documents and a more stringent inventory management system.
Think about whether or not something could be repurposed before throwing it out. Cardboard boxes can be used as filing cabinets, and old sheets of paper can be recycled into notepads. Ingenious repurposing can cut down on waste and save money.
Donating unwanted items to charity or other businesses can help the environment and save landfill space. Giving back to the community this way does wonders for your company’s image and enables you to meet waste management goals.
Engage in Effective Recycling
Effective recycling saves energy, keeps materials out of landfills, and provides raw materials for new production, promoting sustainability. The potential for recycling within your company is often dictated by factors such as your geographical region, local area, and even the facilities within your building. Consider your regional and local recycling markets, your building’s waste hauler services, and potential partnerships with other organizations for waste exchange.
Here are some practical business recycling strategies to consider:
- Set clear recycling policies: Create a recycling policy and ensure all employees know and understand it.
- Encourage supplier take-back: Some suppliers offer programs to take back packaging or products after use.
- Opt for recyclable products and packaging: Choose suppliers who prioritize eco-friendly packaging.
- Consider composting: If your business generates organic waste, consider installing a composting system.
Successful sustainability programs are driven in large part by employee participation. Your company can profit from encouraging a sense of environmental responsibility among its staff. Regular training sessions, workshops, and awareness campaigns can help educate and inspire employees to actively participate in waste reduction and business recycling activities.
This dedication can be strengthened by recognizing and praising their eco-friendly actions. Keep in mind that the strength of a company’s ‘greenness’ depends on the level of environmental dedication displayed by its employees. Moreover, nearly 90% of employees who participate in sustainability initiatives report higher levels of job satisfaction and positive views about the organization as a whole.
How an Environmental Management System (EMS) Can Help Your Business
An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a strategic tool that allows businesses to gain control over, improve, and systematically manage their environmental performance, including commercial waste.
Utilizing an ISO 14001-certified EMS provides a framework for tracking, monitoring, and auditing waste production and overall environmental impact. By setting measurable objectives and targets, businesses can evaluate their performance against a recognized international standard, driving continual improvement.
Implementing an ISO 14001 waste management system helps businesses systematically manage environmental responsibilities and brings several other advantages. These include regulatory compliance, cost savings through reduced waste and energy usage, improved risk management, and enhanced brand reputation.
Companies with this reputable accreditation demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship to stakeholders and customers. It sets them apart in the market, making them more appealing to investors, clients, and partners who prioritize sustainability.
Orion Registrar, an ANAB-accredited certification body, can equip your team with the knowledge and tools necessary to implement and manage an effective EMS with an ISO 14001 training course.
For more information, read our guide on the key principles of an environmental management system.
Get a quote from Orion for ISO 14001 certification now.