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Become a hero and reach zero - the ABCs of achieving Zero Waste to Landfill
Emily Ford outlines some of the reasons why businesses should follow a Zero Waste to Landfill approach.
Most businesses are aware that sending waste to landfill is an unfavourable waste management strategy; however, even though this route is known to cause harm to both the environment and human health, it is still frequently used.
In 2014 48.2 million tonnes of waste was sent from across the UK to landfill and approximately 14% of that waste came from the commercial and industrial sector.
Does this mean that Zero Waste to Landfill is difficult to achieve?
It depends on what types of waste your business handles, as currently no alternative options exist for some waste streams. In addition, not all business premises are close to recovery facilities such as (EFW) energy from waste, (SRF) solid recovered fuel or (RDF) reuse derived fuel plants, meaning these alternative routes are not viable options.
What are the benefits of working towards Zero Waste to Landfill?
Regardless of the scenarios outlined above, following a Zero Waste to Landfill approach makes business sense for several reasons, some of which I have listed below:
There is value to be gained from commercial waste and many businesses are starting to see it as a resource that can be reused, recycled or has an energy value, rather than a problem that can only be buried. Diverting waste from landfill also leads to further benefits, such as compliance with waste legislation.
Over the last eight months the waste industry has received a considerable amount of attention from consumers and media, as stakeholders place pressure on businesses to demonstrate that they are not just paying lip service to environmental activities. Being able to prove that you can track your business’s waste to meet recycling targets, so that it doesn’t pollute the environment, not only meets legal requirements on Duty of Care and the waste hierarchy but can help demonstrate that the business is trying to reduce its impact.
Since Landfill Tax was first introduced in 1996, it has increased each year and is currently at £88.95 per tonne. Therefore, diverting waste from landfill can mean huge cost savings.
With these benefits in mind, many businesses have or are starting to put CSR policies in place and we understand that several are starting to link targets with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Moving waste up the waste hierarchy links with the targets set out in Goal 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Our guide to working towards Zero Waste to Landfill
By following my simple guide, which can be downloaded here, any business can change habits and reduce, or even remove waste disposal from landfill.
We advise businesses to spend a lot of time on the planning stage, so that targets are clear and concise. As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”. Establish whether all sites should be included. Are you going to focus on operational waste? How does this fit with the rest of the business? Who else needs to be involved both internally and externally? When do you want to achieve your goal and is that timescale realistic? Once you know the answers you can move onto the next step and make sure your timescales are achievable.
Establishing the baseline
This means carry out a waste audit, as doing so will enable you to establish all waste streams handled and where they come from. You will then need to map the waste to understand where it goes when it leaves your sites. At this stage you will either want to go back and adjust your plan or continue to the next step.
Once planning and audits have taken place you can create an action plan. This should contain KPIs and should assign responsibilities to staff. This plan should be launched across the business so that everyone can get involved.
Monitoring and reporting
Some business may fall short when it comes to monitoring and reporting, as success will depend on timescales and how good KPIs are. Having a system in place to track and monitor progress is essential as it will help to keep staff engaged, flag up any issues that may arise and will enable you to create reports that can be communicated to senior staff.
I advise that you use my guide as a continuous improvement circle to help your business move towards a Zero Waste to Landfill target.
How Valpak can help your business to achieve targets?
Our expert Zero Waste to Landfill Team has extensive knowledge of waste and environmental auditing. Our unrivalled knowledge of how wastes are managed means we can offer advice on the best ways to achieve your Zero Waste to Landfill goals.
We provide a flexible service meaning you can outsource as much or as little as you want to us, from waste assessments, finding avenues for your waste, tracking progress with regular reporting, or all the above and more. In addition, we will help your business to gain our industry standard Zero Waste to Landfill Certification, which you can use to promote your achievement.