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How To Succeed as a Zero Waste Business – Method InSight

How to Succeed as a Zero Waste Business

Transitioning to a ‘zero waste’ business is no mean feat – it can be a challenging and time-consuming process. But with clear goals, a strategic approach, and dedication, organisations and communities can reap the benefits of reduced costs, increased efficiency, and improved sustainability. Zero waste business is the way of the future, better for people and the environment – since there’s no Planet B, right?

What Does Zero Waste Mean?

So, what does it mean to be ‘zero waste’? The word ‘zero’ itself is a definitive term but the definition of zero waste differs between countries, organisations, and communities. The key measure of performance toward Zero Waste International Alliance’s (ZWIA) Zero Waste definition is diverting 90 percent of all discarded materials from landfills, incinerators, and the environment. While in the UK, businesses aim for an even more impressive figure, with at least 99% of waste diverted from landfill.

Regardless of what zero waste means to a specific country or organisation, the underlying principles are universal – that of waste reduction, resource conservation, and environmental sustainability.

Zero waste is a philosophy and approach to waste management that seeks to eliminate waste and reduce the amount sent to landfills or incinerators. The goal is to shift from a linear model of consumption and disposal to a circular model – to design waste out of the system by creating products that are durable, repairable, compostable, and recyclable. By adopting more sustainable practices, from raw material use and energy consumption to disposal at end-of-life, we can help to create a closed-loop system where waste is removed or repurposed.

Why Go Zero Waste – What Are The Benefits?

There are many reasons why organisations may choose to adopt a zero waste approach and become a sustainability or green leader. Here’s a look at a few of the key benefits:

  1. Environmental sustainability: Going zero waste can help businesses to lessen their impact on the environment, conserve resources, and reduce their carbon footprint. By reducing waste and promoting sustainable practices, organisations can support biodiversity and protect the delicate ecosystems vital to life on earth.
  2. Economic and social benefits: Zero waste practices can generate economic benefits through the creation of green jobs, and increases in resource use efficiency. Along with job creation in such industries as recycling, composting, and upcycling and repair stores, zero waste can also support vulnerable communities by providing affordable access to recycled and repurposed goods.
  3. Brand reputation: Being a zero waste business is a competitive advantage. Customers are looking for brands that put sustainability at the forefront of their business. According to a recent CGS report, 61% of UK consumers say that sustainability is central to their buying decisions while 51% of US consumers rate sustainability as important. Zero waste demonstrates a commitment to social responsibility, which can help attract customers who are environmentally conscious and value sustainable products and services.
  4. Cost savings: Reducing waste can lead to significant cost savings for businesses, particularly in the areas of waste disposal and raw material use. According to the Better Buildings Partnership, better waste management delivers a 10% cost saving. By reducing waste and promoting reuse and recycling initiatives, businesses can save money on landfill and incineration fees, as well as on the cost of purchasing new raw materials.
  5. Compliance and certifications: Many countries and regions have sustainability regulations and targets related to carbon emissions and waste diversion. By adopting zero waste practices, businesses can meet compliance and avoid fines or penalties related to non-compliance. Being a zero waste business also makes it easier to attain green building certification that can help prove compliance regulations are being met.
  6. Innovation: To close the circular economy loop, manufacturers need to design products that are more durable, reusable and recyclable, and create infrastructure to support reuse and recycling. Adopting zero waste practices can stimulate innovation and creativity within a business, leading to the development of new products, services, and business models that are more sustainable and efficient.

How Method Got To Zero Waste

At Method HQ, being zero waste is an important part of our organisational culture. To get there, we started with a clear definition of what zero waste meant to us – a goal of over 90% diversion from landfill. Since 2019 we have met and often surpassed this target. Having achieved our goal of becoming a zero waste business, we know what challenges exist. Here are our recommendations that may help your zero waste journey too:

  • Define what zero waste means to you – Having a precise definition of what zero waste means to your organisation ensures clarity and the knowledge that everyone is on the same page. It also makes tracking zero waste goals measurable and specific.
  • Start small – Focus on a few key areas that led to early gains and encourage motivation in your workplace. Once we had the central systems in place, we could find solutions for more things that were contributing to our overall waste.
  • Clean up procurement practices – Consider the supplies being brought into your workplace. From office stationery to kitchen supplies, what comes in must go out. Look into reducing unnecessary supplies or researching into sustainable alternatives.
  • Add additional waste streams – By introducing more waste streams that can be recycled, reused, or composted, you can divert more waste from going to landfill.
  • Choose local – Partner with other local businesses to reduce unnecessary packaging and transport miles.
  • Promote sustainability – Educate employees about the benefits of waste reduction. Clearly communicate your values, sustainability initiatives, workplace recycling goals and progress.
  • Track waste data – Having a way to track and anlayse waste data is crucial. At Method, we started using our IoT sensor technology InSight, to weigh bin waste, and convert that data into meaningful information. InSight enables businesses to collect bin-by-bin data, analyse patterns, measure impact, report progress, and manage organisational waste (at bin, team, site, and company-wide levels).

Being zero waste is an ongoing and rewarding journey. Read Method’s full case study here.

Interested in going zero waste with InSight?

How Big Companies Can Still Get To Zero Waste

No matter how big or small an organisation may be, taking on the zero waste challenge will be a unique journey for each company and be industry dependent.

Take Patagonia for example – the sustainable clothing company are aware that around 85% of clothing ends up in landfills or gets incinerated. One of the ways they are tackling zero waste is with their recycling initiative Worn Wear, a platform where users can trade in and buy used Patagonia gear. This program encourages consumers to buy less, repair more and trade in gear when no longer needed.

Meanwhile, Australia’s largest airline company, Qantas, flew the first-ever zero waste commercial flight from Sydney to Adelaide in 2019. The route, which usually produces 34 kgs of waste per flight, or 150 tonnes of waste per year, included a range of reusable, recyclable, and compostable alternatives to inflight products.

Waste reduction in large companies plays a significant role in our shared goal for a zero waste future. While going zero waste can encourage innovation, as seen in the above examples, there are also generic recommendations that big organisations can implement to support zero waste goals. These include:

  • Clear initiatives: Inform your staff, partners, and waste management company about your goals and recycling initiatives so there are clear expectations.
  • Waste audit: Consider what supplies and resources are being used in your organisation and where these could be cut or swapped for plastic free and more sustainable alternatives.
  • Education and training: Recycling and sorting waste is complex. Help employees understand how to recycle correctly and sort materials through education and engagement campaigns.
  • Customisable signage: Effective recycling and waste diversion goes hand-in-hand with clear signage. Introduce or improve signage at bin stations for clarity and to keep contamination at a minimum.
  • Waste separation: Separate waste into as many streams as possible. Common ones include general waste, mixed recycling, cardboard, paper, organics, and glass. Look into what’s available in your area for harder to recycle items such as polystyrene, e-waste, and printer cartridges.
  • Communication: Communicate to staff about the benefits of recycling and the positive impact waste minimisation has on the environment and for the business.
  • Zero waste leaders: Establishing a zero waste team can help lead climate action in your workplace, engage employees, and drive progress towards achieving your waste goals
  • Research: Zero waste is a long-term commitment and requires the resources to get it right. Take time to research into providers for those harder to recycle materials, effective waste management solutions, and more sustainable alternatives to current resource use.
  • Measure and track waste: Having a way to track and analyse waste data will enable you to investigate patterns, measure impact, report progress, and manage organisational waste.

How To Achieve Zero Waste At Your Company

Prevention is at the core of waste reduction and should be prioritised when aiming to achieve zero waste. Adopting waste prevention practices encourages a circular ‘closed-loop’ system. The first step to reducing waste is to understand where waste is coming from in the first place. Consider auditing the materials, supplies, and resources being used in your organisation, analysing how sustainable they are, and then seeing where reductions or more environmentally responsible options could be implemented.

The second step to implement is effective waste management, in which technology plays a critical role. Method’s waste data collection technology, InSight, is designed to measure and manage an organisations waste output. InSight enables the collection of waste data using weight sensors. The sensor device is placed underneath any 60L Method bin and measures waste weight, converting it into meaningful and actionable information.

InSight is equipped with an analytics portal that makes it easy to report reliably and regularly on the progress of waste diversion. Accurate bin-by-bin data across floors, buildings and countries, provides a clear and simple way to track zero waste goals, highlight areas for improvement, and measure the impact of workplace recycling initiatives.

Finally, with systems in place, education and communication are key to ongoing zero waste success. By effectively communicating the benefits of recycling to employees, you can increase participation and build a culture of sustainability. When an individual is more aware about the impact of their actions, they are more likely to dedicate time and energy to the cause.

Interested in going zero waste with InSight?

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