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Australian National Waste Policy Action Plan - What Should Your Business Be Doing Now

The 2018 waste report found that 8.5 million tonnes of business waste nationally going to landfill every year; so organisations have the opportunity to have an incredible impact in the wake of the National Waste Policy Action Plan. How can organisations can make a difference towards the key targets now.

Target 1, 2, & 3. Be more effective recyclers

Targets 1, through 3 really boil down to avoiding what we can and then being more effective recyclers, which should be a priority for any workplace. Though often recycling and waste systems are often an afterthought and bins are hidden under desks or in cupboards.

Whereas, recycling in the workplace takes a system approach, removing lone general waste bins and instead implementing communal recycling stations consistently throughout a space. The bins should be well designed and stand out within your space featuring clear colour-coding and graphics. Through regular interaction with consistent bins throughout the workplace, recycling will become an unconscious habit. Further, ensure that education is in place to help users to use the bins effectively from regular emails to signage, also reducing contamination.

Target 4: Significantly increase the use of recycled content

We all have a role to play in increasing the demand for recycled materials through our purchasing and manufacturing. Consider implementing procurement policies that prioritise the inclusion of recycled materials; and more importantly, ask the company you’re purchasing from what happens to the product at the end of its life.

Have they designed the product to last? Is it recyclable again? Is there a take-back scheme? This ensures you’re purchasing with an end-of-life focus and driving the circular economy.

Target 5: Phase out problematic and unnecessary plastics

Will we save the world by getting rid of plastic straws? No, but it goes a long way in terms of environmental impact and a changing mindset for the wider public. Single-use items such as straws, plastic bags, pens, bottled water, coffee cups etc are problematic because they’re emblematic of our take, make and waste culture, as well as being low value. However, when we start to become more aware of the single-use products we use, real change starts to happen.

In the workplace, we can invest in refillable pens and markers, provide staff with reusable coffee cups and water bottles. You can even talk to local food and drink vendors to provide a discount when a reusable cup or container is used.

Target 6: Halve the amount of organic waste sent to landfill for disposal by 2030

On average one-third of a workplace’s waste is organics that could have been composted. For one client with 125 staff, this added up to over 1.6 tonnes of food waste going to landfill in just one year. Why is this important? Non-recycled food waste contributes to 8% of greenhouse gases and creates methane in the atmosphere, which is 25 times more potent than CO2.

This is by far the simplest action to implement, with a substantial impact for a workplace’s environmental impact. Particularly if you have a communal recycling and waste solution as mentioned previously, make sure organics bins feature prominently.

Target 7: Make data publicly available to support better decisions

Most of us recycle at home but efforts often lag in the workplace, often due to the disconnect between the user and where the waste ends up, but data has the power to bridge this gap.

By having an ongoing measurement and reporting system in place, you can help your team to see and feel the impact of their collective decisions. More so, it helps to create a culture of collective responsibility where recycling and waste are talked about regularly increasing awareness and increasing the consideration of their actions. Better yet, make this information available publicly so that your customers can see the effort you’re making without green-washing.

Method have designed a recycling system that is helping organisations to recycle more and waste less. Such as Samson Corporation, a commercial property management company that reduced waste to landfill by 50% on average at three of their key sites in just 3 months.

Method has proven the power of design to impact recycling results with their award-winning product family, while utilising over 44 tonnes of recycled materials in manufacturing in 2019.

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