We, as a society, need to reduce the amount of waste we produce. We are fast running out of space for landfills and overall recycling needs to be higher on our agenda.
While every individual should do what they can to produce less waste it’s also true that businesses should step up and play their part. The good news for companies is that while waste reduction is great for the environment it’s also good for increasing profit margins.
Here we look at four ways we can reduce waste in a working environment, whilst also cutting costs.
The first question to ask yourself is whether you need a whole separate office space just for your business or whether a shared environment would be more beneficial. A serviced office space has many benefits, including shared resources, so overall there is less wastage of power and water. Not only will you reduce your rental costs by sharing a space but you will also be more environmentally friendly because natural resources are being utilized by more people.
The management of waste is also taken out of your hands so there can be a more large-scale efficient system of recycling. In addition, disposal of hazardous or regulated items, such as electrical products, which fall under the WEEE legislation, is managed by the office provider. This means it can be done on a bigger scale to take advantage of a reduction in costs.
Over time your business will produce substantial amounts of documentation which you will need to keep for a certain amount of time, in line with tax and employment regulations. It is important that these documents are stored securely but you should also think about what happens when they come to the end of their life. The destruction of documents should be secure for you as a business, so all paperwork should be shredded, but you also want to know that the resulting waste is disposed of responsibly.
As outlined above there will always be paper documents vital for a business to retain but overall your aim should be to work towards a paperless office. Educate staff to print only when necessary and instead view documents online. Employee handbooks, manuals, memos and instructions should all be distributed via email or your intranet, so vast amounts of paper can be saved.
To reduce the amount of paper you use, and therefore waste you produce, anythingit is vital to have in hardcopy should be set to print on both sides of the paper. Place a recycling box next to any printers or photocopiers so that waste paper doesn’t end up in the general rubbish.Less printing means less money spent on paper;lower expenditure on toner cartridges for printers and photocopiers; and lower maintenance costs. You can also be reassured you are creating less paper waste which then needs to be recycled.
A further step can be to install air hand dryers in toilet areas, not only are these more hygienic but you are also cutting down on waste paper from hand towels.
Reduce your business waste as much as possible, but anything which needs to be thrown away, should be recycled. Have separate bins in your kitchen or breakout areas for each type of waste, including: paper and cardboard; plastics; glass; aluminium cans; other metals; and food scraps and used teabags.
It is important to encourage staff to do as much of this waste sorting as possible so they can see you take green issues seriously. What works well in many companies is to remove individual rubbish bins under desks, where people will usually throw all sorts of waste away without thinking, and instead make them take the rubbish to the recycling bins in your central areas.
Your food waste scraps and teabags can be sorted into compost boxes and added to the soil surrounding your building if you have an outside area. If not, there are usually local groups happy to collect compost for community or school growing projects.
These four steps will take you a long way towards having an environmentally friendly business in terms of waste management. Less waste leads to a lower negative impact on the planet and reduced costs for your business, without doubt a winning combination.
Pix via 1 & 2 Helen Wallis, the author of this article, is a keen blogger with a passion for
everything green. By sharing her thoughts and experiences, she hopes
to make the world a more beautiful place for everyone.
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