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6 Sustainable Waste Management Best Practices for Property Managers

Tips and Tricks to Make You More Efficient

Sustainable waste management for commercial properties poses a unique challenge. Property managers often deal with a wide range of businesses that all have distinct waste needs – from retail and food services to office-based businesses.

Some businesses may have specific waste diversion targets or are working toward zero waste, whereas others may deal with toxic or hazardous materials that need special disposal. With many tenants that have competing priorities, it can be difficult for property managers to find a balance between needs, maximising efficiency, and sustainability.

However, because waste management is a crucial aspect of any successful property manager, it’s important to enact best practices to ensure a smooth, efficient, and sustainable solution is in place. It can even help you achieve and maintain green building certifications, which can decrease tenant turnover, improve efficiencies, and make your building stand out.

While some property managers take a more hands-off approach, if you truly want to make sustainable strides within your building, you’ll need to be more involved in setting yourself up for success. Here are some best practices to employ to make sure you’re getting the most from your waste management system:

1. Take Stock of Resources Coming In and Out

Without knowing exactly what type of waste your occupants are producing and what hard-to-recycle materials are mis-recycled, it can be challenging to know what solutions even exist. In order to be better prepared, conduct a building-wide waste audit with the help of a waste consulting firm or other experts. Do this regularly, especially as tenants come and go, so that you always have an idea of what your building needs are and if you need to add additional streams over time.

This is especially useful if your building serves a range of tenants that may include retail, office space, educational institutions, or medical groups. Mixed-use buildings pose a challenge to property managers, but with a little preparation, your waste management system can still be efficient and sustainable.

2. Work With Tenants to Understand Their Needs and Goals

As a property manager, your job is to deliver consistent, efficient, and timely service to your tenants. While there are many different services that are constantly pulling at your time, it’s still crucial to have ongoing conversations with your tenants to understand their business needs and goals, especially when it comes to sustainable waste management.

While a waste audit is useful for understanding the building as a whole, it’s also important to address individual concerns and find solutions that fit within their businesses. Regularly work with them to improve their waste systems, which in turn, will help the wider building’s waste management as well.

Start with understanding your tenants’ specific needs. When onboarding a new tenant, devote time to discuss their waste needs. As many properties, especially green buildings, are looking to streamline their waste across sites, use this to your advantage. By presenting new tenants with a pre-determined waste system – like the Method bins – at the outset of their lease, you’ll be able to better control the waste and increase building-wide waste diversion.

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3. Develop a Relationship With Waste Providers

If you perform regular waste audits and have ongoing discussions with tenants, you can be better prepared to reevaluate your waste management system. Work with your waste provider to understand local regulations and compliance around waste management.

By understanding the requirements, you can optimise service for the building and help tenants to determine the best solutions for them. It also helps to direct occupants to properly sort waste – i.e. if you need to separate all recyclable materials or if your waste provider accepts co-mingled recycling.

Having an ongoing relationship with your waste provider can also allow you to easily add or adjust the streams as needed, such as if old tenants leave or new ones come on board with specialty needs. Plus, as landfill levies continue to rise and recycling rules constantly change, having a good relationship with your provider will allow you to better manage your overall property waste.

4. Improve Sustainable Waste Management Efficiency

When you’re working across a dozen different businesses, it can be hard to make the most of your time. Figuring out how to optimise efficiency can save you time, money, and a huge headache. And don’t be afraid to get creative with your solutions.

For instance, Samson Corporation Ltd in New Zealand uses Hungry Bin worm farms at a number of their properties to encourage organic collections among their tenants. These on-site worm farms not only reduce food waste going to landfills but also provide nutrient-rich compost to use around the property. It also reduces the number of bins that need to be picked up by providers, saving carbon emissions from the transport of materials off-site, and saving the property money in return.

Additionally, while ensuring tenants understand the importance of waste diversion, it’s equally important to educate and inform cleaners, as they’ll be the ones working directly with waste and bringing it to the skip bins. If tenants will choose their own cleaning service providers, make sure they have proper resources to work with the cleaning staff.

You could provide other resources to help tenants and their staff set up sustainable waste systems. Offer education for their employees and their visitors, which can help decrease contamination and save your property money on recycling contamination fees. Our Recycling 101 series is designed specifically to help engagement across companies, so consider signing up and sharing with your tenants.

Also, offer support for their waste minimisation efforts through help with individual waste audits, additional green building resources, or sustainable procurement, which can reduce the amount of waste overall.

5. Identify Waste Champions

As a property manager, your time is valuable, and limited. Seek out others in your buildings that may have a keen interest in waste and sustainability and have them focus on that. Identifying a waste champion for each tenant early on can help you stay in the know with tenants and better distribute personalised guidance. Finding someone that can work hands-on within each organisation leaves you time to focus on the bigger picture.

Even if you manage a green building, some tenants will be more interested in sustainability than others, but finding a trusted environmental champion can help overall property diversion. Since you won’t know the daily ins and outs of that organisation, a champion can help bridge the knowledge gap between you and your tenants.

It’s best if it’s someone that is passionate about waste reduction and can understand and guide tenants to better optimise and reduce waste throughout the building. Additionally, they can set and track their business’ own waste goals to help report back to you and the property owners.

6. Report Your Data Clearly and Accurately

By taking regular stock of your waste, you can understand how your property is doing and how tenants are contributing. This can help them in their own reporting metrics, as many companies now have waste reduction goals, and by providing them with these numbers, you can help ensure they are reaching their targets.

Data allows you to easily track when problems, such as consistent contamination, arise. Contamination from even one tenant can hurt overall diversion rates, so having the most accurate data possible can help you find a solution and pinpoint where the issue is coming from.

By properly recording and tracking waste data, you’ll know what’s working, and what’s not, and work to find ways to improve the waste management across the site.

Accurate data and reporting also show investors, stakeholders, and future tenants that you are serious about efficiency and maximising sustainability in the long term. Sustainable waste management plays a role in promoting a green building and working toward green certifications, which tenants are looking for more and more.

Wrap Up

It can be easy to let waste management fall by the wayside when you have so many pressing matters. But by doing so, you’re missing out on ways to decrease costs, streamline processes, and increase value for your tenants and your stakeholders.

By employing best practices when it comes to sustainable waste management, you’ll be better prepared to guide occupants, work with cleaners, and negotiate with waste providers to create a more sustainable (both environmentally and economically) solution that works for everyone.

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