Use these tools to start reducing waste across your business.
In the spirit of waste reduction, we have 'recycled' some of the best resources we could find and put them in one place. Making things as easy as possible is the first step to ensuring success.
The retail industry can generate a lot of waste through packaging for incoming stock and to hold customer purchases. There are many ways to reduce waste in the industry, from cutting back on plastic bags to green purchasing and recycling packaging.
According to Planet Ark, about five billion check-out plastic bags are used by Australians each year. Plastic bags take up to 1000 years to break down.
Retailers can follow some simple tips to cut back plastic bag usage:
- offer reusable bags for sale in-store
- keep empty stock boxes near the register and make them available for customers
- train staff to ask customers if they need a bag or to offer a reusable bag
- five items or less – no plastic bag policy.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council in conjunction with the National Packaging Covenant has produced a guide for shopping centre management, commercial property owners and property managers involved with planning and implementing waste reduction and recycling programs within shopping centres.
Becoming a green office is largely about paper – reducing its use, reusing it, recycling it and buying recycled paper. While electronic offices may not be a reality yet, there are many steps businesses can take to reduce paper use. With up to 55 per cent of office waste made up of paper, it is the best place to start.
eWaste – broken, unused or unwanted electrical equipment – is another growing area of the waste stream. By buying equipment wisely, maintaining it correctly and recycling old equipment, this sort of waste can be reduced. Equipment choice and operating habits have a great impact on energy consumption and running costs.
Office tenants can work with building owners and managers to achieve waste reduction targets and cost savings.
The Natural Strategies Group (NSG) has information about work actions that can be taken to support the greening of our work cultures.
The Green office guide, produced by Commonwealth, State and Territory environmental agencies, has information on green office equipment.
The hotel industry generates unnecessary waste in many ways, from incorrect storage and handling, to preparing too much food and delivering services inefficiently.
A survey of Victorian hotels found more than 80 per cent of waste generated in hotels is recyclable, reusable or compostable.
Sustainability Victoria has a guide to making hotel businesses more waste wise, developed through the City of Melbourne's Savings in the City program in consultation with a number of Melbourne hotels.
City of Gold Coast completed the Clean Stream Project in conjunction with the Packaging Stewardship Forum of the Australian Food and Grocery Council in 2009. This was a 12 month program aimed at increasing the quantity of recovered recyclables and reducing the amount of recycling contamination in hospitality venues across the Gold Coast. The Clean Stream Program brochure details the outcomes from the Clean Stream Program and provides information on how you too can incorporate recycling at your hospitality venue.
Events generate a lot of waste because they rely heavily on disposable products.
A waste wise event is a public event that has efficient recycling and waste reduction systems in place, including:
- avoiding waste and litter where possible
- using reusable packaging instead of disposable packaging
- controlling packaging so less waste ends up in landfill
- giving preference to recyclable and recycled content packaging
- explaining the benefits of sustainable waste management to patrons.
The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority also has a guide to putting on a waste wise event.
Caterers have a big role to play in reducing food waste, cutting the use of disposable crockery and cutlery and reducing costs.
Some simple actions include avoiding polystyrene and waxed cardboard as these are non-recyclable; setting up recycling stations back of house; and educating patrons to do the right thing.
From planning through to demolition, there are many ways the construction industry can reduce waste. Some things to consider include using eco-friendly design that incorporates deconstruction principles for ease of demolition and recycling; sourcing recycled, recyclable and environmentally-friendly building materials; estimating quantities more accurately and separating and recycling waste onsite.
An increasing trend for sustainable buildings that efficiently use water, energy and materials has seen customers demand builders reduce waste with effective designs, a better choice of construction products and better management of construction sites.
Simple measures such as building to standard sizes and having some materials pre-fabricated offsite can reduce waste in the short and long term.
Sustainability Victoria has guidelines for going green in the construction industry. Its checklist for a waste minimisation plan helps builders calculate and record volumes of waste.
Waste reduction and waste management are important considerations when creating a sustainable manufacturing business. Manufacturing Skills Australia, the Australian Industry Skills Council for several manufacturing industry sectors, has developed a website that provides resources about sustainability which includes guidance on existing programs, waste management practices and lean systems.
Planet Ark, in conjunction with the New South Wales Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water and Pitney Bowles, offers a free directory specifically designed for Australian businesses searching for re-use options and recycling services in their area. The site also provides recycling information for around 90 materials.