How to get started

Commitment from the top

Commitment from senior management is important for the success of any sustainability programme. Ideally senior management should:

  • allocate responsibilities to staff to ensure projects are implemented,
  • ensure staff are allocated adequate time to complete tasks, and
  • allocate additional resources such as a budget for the programme if requred.

Integrate the programme into your business

It is important that waste minimisation activities are seen by staff and management as part of the long-term business activities and not an isolated incident. To do this the projects need to be given profile within the business. You can help this by:

  • Documenting and communicating progress
  • Relating it to the company’s long term objectives and strategy
  • Updating site operating procedures to include any systems that are being implemented
  • Ensuring goals are identified and progress monitored, and
  • Holding regular meetings to coordinate work and to give them profile.

Appointing a sustainable person or team

Finding people within your organisation with a passion for the environment is key to implementing change and creating ownership of the process. Ideally it is best to include staff from all levels within the organisation, including middle management and support staff.

Involve your staff throughout the process

For your waste minimisation system to work well, everyone who is going to be using and maintaining the system needs to support it and be involved.

  • Manager(s) need to lead by example and remind staff to use the system correctly
  • Staff need to be involved in the design to ensure buy-in, and
  • Staff need to take action and use the system correctly.

It is crucial that the system is easy to use, convenient and supported by effective education
on waste minimisation.

The walk-through

A walk-through inspection of the site can help:

  • enable a stocktake of current systems and practice
  • identify obvious wastes and where they are occurring
  • raise the profile of the work being undertaken
  • help determine what areas to focus on, and
  • familiarise and train team members and other staff.

A walk-through audit will only identify obvious waste and will not provide information on quantities or costs. A walk-through can point to areas where more detailed work might be focused.

EcoSolutions can undertake this with you and help you to analysis the information you obtain.

Set up a baseline to calculate how much waste you currently generate

Getting some accurate information on the materials your business is throwing out and how much your waste disposal is currently costing will help you decide what waste reduction measures you should take and measure your progress and savings.

This can be as easy as counting the number of full rubbish bags, wheelie bins and skips you generate each week or looking at your bills from your waste management provider.

A Waste Audit

You can also undertake a waste audit. This is a process whereby you collect your organisation’s rubbish for a set period, and then go through it and separate into reusable, recyclable materials, organic waste and residual rubbish and weight each area. This will give you detailed figures on types and quantities of each waste type and where these are
being generated within your business.

Understanding how and where you generate waste will enable you to target your waste minimisation strategy towards specific materials and areas of your business that generate the highest volumes. To receive the ecostar award, less than 10% (Gold), 20% (Silver), or 30% (Bronze) of a business’s refuse should be composed of materials that can be reused,
recycled or composted. The waste audit will let you know exactly how much of your waste is currently divertible from landfill.

For more information on doing a waste audit check out www.wastenot.co.nz/resources. Alternatively you can contract EcoSolutions to undertake a waste audit for you.

Develop a waste minimisation plan

A waste minimisation plan is simply documenting your waste minimisation systems, policies and goals. This can then be used to induct new staff into the systems and as a way to keep you on track.

Sing it from the Mountain Top

It is good for your sustainability team to regularly report progress to senior management and the public, and to keep other staff up-to-date. Set up a system for reporting and communicating at the beginning of the project and include your communications team.  This is where you get to tell people the great stuff you’re doing.