Making the business case for less waste

Businesses who don’t recycle or optimise their waste management face unnecessary losses which can directly impact their bottom line, their position in the market, and staff morale.

Every year in Australia, businesses generate over 12.5 million tonnes of waste. Almost half of it (46 per cent) goes to landfill despite estimates that approximately 70 per cent can be reused or recycled.

New research shows that 76 per cent of businesses believe that reducing waste is part of being a sustainable and ethical business. However, there is also the perception that they are doing all they can to manage it, that there may be little benefit in doing more, or that they don’t have the knowledge to improve their waste and recycling practices.

“It’s clear that many workplaces don’t understand that they may be wasting money by sending waste to landfill. Take Cumberland Golf Club as an example; by investing in a wood chipper they cut their waste fees by $8000 a year, and The Good Guys in Rockdale reduced their skip bin pick-ups from three times a week to one a fortnight, saving thousands of dollars a year,” says Ryan Collins, Recycling Programs Manager at Planet Ark.

“Our new resource, The Business Case for Less Waste, provides employees and management with advice and guidance for establishing a recycling strategy within the workplace, and explains the many benefits associated with pursuing better waste management, including reduced costs, improved reputation and better staff morale.”

Saving on the bottom line

The costs of sending business waste to landfill, instead of recycling, are significant and not just environmental.

Australian workplaces pay a state government levy for each tonne of eligible waste sent to landfill. The rate varies depending upon material type and business location. The most common charge in Western Australia is $55 a tonne, in Victoria it is $62, South Australia $76 and in NSW it is $133. In the ACT, the landfill gate fee is $146. These levies are easily avoided by sending waste material to recycling.

Workplaces who conduct regular audits of their existing recycling programs can also find savings. By adopting new waste management equipment, reviewing contracts with recycling providers, or creating green supply chains, which minimise waste and promote efficiency, businesses can make surprising savings.

By saving on waste costs a workplace can reinvest in their core activities.

“As a community owned not‐for‐profit we’d much rather use money for children’s education resources than to have rubbish taken away,” said Kathryn Barker, Early Childhood Services Manager at Illawarra Area Child Care.

A competitive edge

More than one in two (53 per cent) businesses agree that efficient waste management and recycling gives them a competitive edge. Recent research has supported this by showing that businesses and brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability outperform those without.

Increasing numbers of consumers (66 per cent) are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies committed to reducing their environmental impact, and that commitment has the power to sway product purchases for more than 45 per cent of consumers. By adopting positive environmental practices, like recycling, Australian businesses also demonstrate to their customers and stakeholders that they are forward thinking and innovative.

Happy staff – better business

More than nine out of ten Australian households recycle and employees are increasingly expecting recycling facilities in the workplace. Statistics indicate that Australia-wide, 80 per cent of employees would like more recycling in the workplace and that having recycling facilities make them feel like they work for a responsible employer.

Planet Ark say that the increased staff morale associated with high levels of job satisfaction leads to a more cohesive and productive team, and longer‐term staff retention, alleviating the costs of recruitment and training.

Nation Recycling Week takes place 13 to 19 November, for more information visit the Planet Ark website.

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