Benefits of waste management

Effectively managing your waste brings many benefits including:

  • improving sustainability practices
  • increasing your business’ social impact
  • increasing staff engagement
  • reducing your operating costs
  • ensuring that you and your business are complying with regulations.

Follow our steps and information to help you manage your business waste effectively.

1. Measure your business waste

To improve your waste management processes, you first need to assess the waste you’re currently producing and understand where you can do better.

Sort and track the waste in your bins. It will help you to better understand the types, quantity, and frequency of the waste being generated.

Waste audit

Conducting a waste audit will help you establish a baseline, identify areas for improvement, and help you decide what action to take with your waste management.

A waste audit will help you to identify:

  • how much waste is going to landfill
  • what that waste commonly consists of
  • what types of recycling is being generated
  • which part of your business generates the waste
  • communication and education barriers.

2. Assess the lifecycle of products and services

Waste management is not just about how you handle waste. It's also about understanding how to use resources more efficiently, or to minimise and avoid creating waste. 

Think about your products and services and consider each stage in its lifecycle. Identify where you could be using resources more efficiently.

Reviewing the product’s viability can help to reduce and eliminate waste entirely.

For example, if your business is a hotel that offers complementary plastic bottled water, you could remove this product from your processes and be replace with filtered tap water.

Look for a supplier that offers sustainable packaging options such as:

  • compostable
  • biodegradable
  • fully recyclable packaging
  • bulk to eliminate individual packaging.

You could consider changing your products and services to ones that result in less waste. Consumer demands are changing, and they’re seeking out sustainable options. Make sure that you communicate sustainable changes to your customers.

How your business operates can impact the amount of waste generated. Reviewing your processes can be an effective reduction tool.

An example is your business’ use of printing and paper. Consider if printing is necessary or switch to digital option.

Training your staff, suppliers, and customers on waste management and reduction processes can help in the shift to reducing and eliminating waste.

Reviewing your suppliers and their processes can highlight areas for improvement. Consider switching to suppliers with better sustainability and waste management practices to improve the waste generated along your supply chain. This can help reduce the amount of waste coming into your business and help remove the waste from the supply chain entirely.

Consider the following when reviewing your waste disposal options:

  • Ho do you currently manage waste disposal?
  • Are the appropriate bins (recycling, compost, landfill etc.) clearly marked and close to the relevant areas?
  • Do you have clear signage to help educate on the correct disposal option for the waste?
  • Can you identify ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste?

3. Reduce, reuse and recycle

Once you understand your waste disposal patterns and you’ve established your baseline, you’ll then want to look at how you can better manage your waste.

This is where the ‘3 Rs’ can help:

  • reduce
  • reuse
  • recycle.

Follow our tips to help your business reduce, reuse and recycle waste.

Introduce a waste reduction program to engage your staff in waste management. You can appoint a waste management coordinator to help:

  • identify ways to eliminate waste, for example running plastic free events
  • keep people informed about waste management
  • communicate updates to processes to build skills across your business
  • identify external partners and services (example, local recyclers or food waste collections) that could assist in your waste reduction program
  • create fun facts, quizzes, competitions and activities to keep employees engaged in the efforts.

Providing separate bins with clear signage and images will help waste separation. It’s important to know what waste your business can recycle or reuse.

Ways to clearly communicate what can be:

  • Re-used: items that are usually disposed which can be reused instead, for example bubble wrap and other packaging items.
  • Recycled: having clear signage, images and details of the recycling numbers and symbols can help with recycling practices. Consider different options such as:
    • containers for cans and bottles
    • plastics
    • paper and carboard
    • electronic waste
    • coffee pod recycling.
  • Composted: to eliminate food waste going into landfill, find out if your building management or local council offer compost waste services. You can also work with your community partners or suppliers to help remove waste from your premises and ensure it is composted.

Review your products to know where your products are made, how they get to you and how they are destroyed. Consider if your business could use less of the items that end up in waste, and if not, how can you source more sustainable options.

Talk to your suppliers about using environmentally friendly products, materials, practices or services.

4. Manage hazardous waste correctly

Hazardous waste is material that has the potential to cause harm to humans or the environment. We’ve listed some common examples below, but make sure to check the waste management rules in your state or territory for your obligations.

  • Asbestos: commonly used as a building material in older buildings. It can pose health and environmental risks. Learn how to manage and control asbestos in the workplace.
  • Radioactive waste: if your business deals with radioactive materials you must have procedures in place to classify, handle, store and dispose of it correctly. You can find the kinds of radioactive waste on the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency website.
  • Medical waste: may contain blood, body fluids, sharps or other infectious materials. It can be disposed of by incineration or in a prescribed container for collection and disposal by a licensed waste transporter.
  • Electronic waste: the National Television and Recycling Scheme (NTRS) is a government initiative that enables you to recycle electronic waste for free. Find a recycling drop-off point near you for your ewaste that includes:
  • Tyres: to dispose of tyres, you can find accredited tyre recyclers, or join the voluntary Tyre Stewardship national scheme that develops recycling and reuse solutions for old tyres.

5. Check waste management rules in your state or territory

Waste management rules and assistance vary between states and territories. Check with your state, territory and local government for obligations and services.

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