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Zero Waste to Landfill: Time to rethink your waste management strategy?

17 October 2018

Zero Waste to Landfill (ZWTL) is a movement growing around the world. It is much more than just throwing less in the bin; to achieve the goal, companies need to examine every aspect of their waste management.

While ZWTL has obvious environmental benefits and can help a company meet its corporate social responsibility (CSR), it can also have a real commercial benefit.

In just seven years from 2007 to 2014, the cost of landfill tax more than trebled from £24 a tonne in 2007-08 to £80 a tonne in 2014-15.

From 1st April 2018, landfill tax was set at £88.95 a tonne and is currently set to increase in line with inflation. This is the cost of tax alone for every tonne of waste landfilled at the standard rate and does not include other disposal charges and processing costs.

These charges make a very strong case for taking a ZWTL approach to managing waste where practicable.

Achieving ZWTL

Recycling is a large part of ZWTL, but embracing circular economies by understanding how to gain maximum value out of the materials and resources we use is also key.

The simplest example of this is one we’re all familiar with: recycled paper. By both recycling paper and using recycled paper we are gaining more value from paper as a resource.

A further aspect of a circular economy is sourcing energy, wherever possible, from renewable suppliers.

Where to start?

With growing concern for the environment and China’s recent ban on the importation of plastic waste focusing policy makers’ minds, it is likely that Government will implement measures that further penalise waste and incentivise green behaviour.

But it doesn’t have to be daunting. A valuable starting point is a waste audit and for those companies who already believe they are managing their waste efficiently, there are always ways to improve.

A waste audit is the process of evaluating the waste a company produces, what proportion is recyclable and whether waste that can be recycled is being recycled.

You might also consider whether any waste can be reused in-house or perhaps re-engineered such as office furniture, desks and chairs.

There are many great reuse charities out there where furniture is made fit for reuse and donated to much needed causes, which can provide great social value to local communities.

There are many ways in which a business can reduce its waste and a waste audit consists of a number of logical stages to help companies fully understand their current situation, identify strengths and weaknesses, and maximise efficiencies.

It is important to remember that businesses are legally obligated to treat their waste in line with the Waste Hierarchy which dictates that waste should be dealt with in the following order of preference: Reduction (Prevention), Reuse, Recycling, Energy Recovery and only as a final resort landfill.

A waste audit can advise the positioning of bins: if recycling points are out of the way or badly sited, they might well be forgotten.

An audit will analyse the internal receptacles to establish what waste is being generated at what locations and record how often mistakes have been made, to see identifiable trends. Waste audits can help you look further than well known recycling methods.

Food waste is a valuable form of energy that can be captured through Anaerobic Digestion (AD), a more sustainable alternative for the treatment of food waste and in line with the circular economy.

This is a biological process similar to composting, but without air, where the process also creates energy through the production of biogas. There has been a rapid growth in AD plants in the UK over the last five years providing alternative more sustainable solutions for managing food waste.

WCRS works with a number of AD plants and composting facilities around the UK that generate compost used to fertilise farmland and generate energy.

Anaerobic digestion is recognised by the government, Defra, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, Friends of the Earth and the National Farmers Union as one of the best methods for food waste recycling and dealing with farm waste and sewage sludge.

Recycling and reuse is not the only thing to consider. The manager leading the effort should consider the items or materials that can be eliminated from the supply chain, for instance swapping disposable, single use cups for reusable china cups.

Whatever you decide, the manager leading the effort should draw up an analysis and report, laying out findings and listing recommendations for change.

Great communication is key if the audit is to be embraced by the whole team so recommendations should be clear, to the point and displayed prominently around the workplace.

Make sure everybody knows the reasons for the audit and the benefits for the company, community and the environment. Make this clear at the start and repeat at the end. Waste audits are a great way for a company to meet its CSR, save money, and even identify a new revenue stream.

Organisations face many challenges with effectively managing their waste and recycling. WCRS has vast experience across the range of waste disposal and recycling innovation.

The team can give your company expert advice to help you achieve significant results on recycling rates within the first 12 months and is currently offering a free waste audit, subject to terms and conditions.

Work with the right partner and use proven support and advice to streamline your waste outputs and maximise efficiency, and considerable improvements can be made very quickly.


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