Looking for a place to cut your company’s expenses? Start at the dumpster.
Reducing waste can help your company save money. Experts predict the global waste management industry will rake in more than $560 billion in 2020 alone. That’s up from $402 billion just ten years ago. Much of that increase has to do with the swelling volume of global waste creation, which is projected to grow by 70% between 2016 and 2050.
You can attribute the expansion of the world’s trash economy to many different factors, including urbanization, a consumption culture, population growth, a burgeoning middle class in developing countries, changes in global supply chains, and even the rise of nationalism in China, which used to buy 1/6th of the recyclables collected in the U.S. No matter the exact mix of causes, the truth is that trash is getting expensive. That’s why the waste minimization business is starting to take off – companies are trying to stop themselves from sending dollars to the dump.
What is waste minimization? A good definition comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: “Waste minimization includes source reduction practices that reduce or eliminate waste generation at the source, and environmentally sound recycling practices where source reduction is not economically practical.”
Here are eight waste minimization strategies that can help your business save money:
1. Start Composting
Save money on waste hauling by putting your business’s bio-waste right back into the ground it came from. The sheer tonnage of food wasted in corporate cafeterias and at catered events is shocking.
The U.S. throws away about one-third of the food it grows, leading to environmental, economic, and moral problems at all levels. Donating untouched food to the local food bank or the Salvation Army is a great way to address accidental overages, but some food cannot be given away.
In these cases, composting is an option. In fact, the city of San Francisco actually mandates that food waste be turned into compost, but it’s financially advantageous in any city where the waste gets hauled to a site within 50 miles. Find out more about how to compost organic waste as a corporation from the U.S. Composting Council.
2. Dispense with Plastic Water Bottles
Environmentally speaking, the invention of plastic water bottles has been a disaster. They require 17 million barrels of oil to produce every year, and once used, 38 billion of these bottles never find their way to the recycling bin – and that’s just in the U.S.
They can be an economic disaster for your company, too. Consider the math: the average water pitcher holds 240 gallons of water each year at a cost of $0.19 per day, whereas the water bottles needed to contain that amount of liquid would take $4.98 per day. If you’re using plastic water bottles for meetings, luncheons, and staff refreshment, you could see hefty savings by switching to pitchers and water goblets (which are classier, anyway). Additionally, when you use a glass pitcher, you don’t have to pay a waste management company to haul thousands of empty water bottles to the recycling facility.
3. Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Don’t stop with water bottles. Get rid of all your single-use plastics. That includes things like plastic bags, coffee stirrers, straws, soda pop bottles, and most food packaging. Expensive to buy and haul off, these items are also difficult to degrade once they’re at the dump. Using knit bags, metal spoons, aluminum cans, and hard plastic plates and bowls can save both the earth and your budget a lot of stress.
4. Go Paperless
Paper is a dinosaur. Your company is doing business in the digital age. For security purposes, you’re probably already scanning everything anyway – turning it into digital documents and storing it securely in the cloud.
Conduct a paper audit in your office. Find out where you are still relying on paper and do what you can to further digitize and minimize. Of course, some files must be kept in paper format due to regulatory requirements, but the more you can reduce your reliance on paper, the more you can save by not having to get your documents bound, stored, and finally hauled off.
5. Reduce E-Waste
The world disposes of 41.8 million tons of e-waste each year. Less than a third of that gets recycled.
In the U.S., e-waste accounts for a small percentage of the waste stream, but it amounts to 70% of the hazardous waste thrown out. Besides, it’s more for your trash collector to have to haul off – and charge you for.
Instead, pad your own pocket by selling old-but-useable electronics to smaller businesses or donate them to non-profits for a tax deduction. Alternatively, you could ask your managed service provider to repair or upgrade your current systems, as there might be more life in them than you think.
6. Don’t Over-purchase Raw Materials
If your company makes products, a great way to save on expenses is to get an accurate forecast of the raw materials you’ll need. When you’re working on a boutique project, in particular, it can be easy to buy more goods than you’ll actually use, since the manufacturer may offer you a bulk discount and it’s easy to think you’ll store them for the next project.
Often, you won’t actually do that. You’ll dump them in a stack for the garbage collectors to haul off during your company’s annual clean-out. Buy what you need with enough overage to cover any possible mistakes and no more.
7. Conduct Preventive Maintenance
By keeping your equipment up to date and working at full capacity, you can eliminate many leaks, spills, outages, and accidents. You’ll also prevent pieces of equipment from breaking down entirely and needing to be hauled off and replaced. A careful equipment review, a list of standard operating procedures, and a maintenance policy can go a long way toward reducing your waste stream and cutting your costs.
8. Measure Your Outputs
You only know how much you’re losing when you measure it. Find out how much tonnage your waste management provider is hauling off your property each month, divide it by 30 days, and divide again by the number of employees in your company. That’s how much waste each person is generating on average.
Announce the number, then reduce your company’s total trash output by getting everyone excited about making changes. Make it a contest or a game, if you think your employees would enjoy that. When your whole team works together to reduce waste, your company sees more success – and ultimately, more savings.
A simple waste minimization business definition is “minimizing waste at its source.” It’s a solid first step toward serious financial savings and a greener business model, but your business can further reduce waste hauling costs by employing effective Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, like Sensa Network’s fullness sensors. These devices automatically measure the space between the bottom of a bin’s lid and the top layer of its contents, allowing a waste management company to optimize its route and only pick up trash when the bin is full – not just when it’s your company’s turn in line. Bin fullness sensors save businesses money by eliminating unnecessary pickups, and they improve the environment by reducing garbage truck emissions.
Learn more about how Sensa Networks can help your business save money on waste hauling by contacting us today.