Waste reduction and recycling make business sense

Half the SMEs surveyed state that motivating staff is a benefit of improving their waste and recycling practices…and employees who perceive the business they work for to be ethical feel a greater sense of commitment.

New research shows over 75% of businesses agree reducing waste and recycling is part of being a sustainable and ethical business, yet a worrying 58% keep virtually no records on their waste management.

Our report – What’s the Deal with Business Waste? – shows that failure to understand the quantity of waste and to monitor it is a significant obstacle to implementing waste-management practices that can have both environmental and financial benefits.

Conducting a waste audit is an important step in reviewing a business’s waste-management practices, and diverting materials from the waste to the recycling. The return-on-investment could save your business money.

Over 12.5 million tonnes of business waste is generated each year in Australia, almost half of which –46% – goes to landfill, and the rates of waste generation are increasing.

Disturbingly, seven out of ten businesses – 68% – think that they are already doing all they can in regards to waste management and recycling. Businesses that feel they have already optimised their waste management are much less likely to seek information about changes in the waste industry and new services that are available to them.

Business benefits

Three out of four Australian businesses believe that good waste management improves public perception of their company. Having an environmental strategy is something that an increasing number of clients now expect, with 43% of outsourcing companies finding that green factors play a role in the selection process of their clients.

Green supply chains also promote efficiency and synergy among business partners, minimising waste and reducing costs.

Half the SMEs surveyed state that motivating staff is a benefit of improving their waste and recycling practices. Many report an increased ability to attract and retain talented employees, as employees who perceive the business they work for to be ethical feel a greater sense of commitment.

Business barriers

SMEs reported time pressures as being the number one hurdle to making changes to their waste reduction and recycling improvements.

The perception that waste disposal is not a financial burden is also a barrier. Businesses are motivated by cost-saving strategies, and if the expense of generating waste is not an important issue for managers and investors, it won’ be a priority for them to address.

About one-third of SMEs recognise they don’t have the knowledge to proceed, which is where tools such as the Business Recycling website can help.

Help is at hand

BusinessRecycling.com.au provides online and over-the-phone information, resources and service listings to help businesses reduce waste and increase recycling. Details on where specific material types can be recycled across Australia are provided, making the process of finding the right recycling solutions for individual businesses quick and easy. The site also has free signage and resources to help get colleagues on board.

Bin Trim is a free Excel tool for SMEs to measure their waste and provides tailored information to help reduce, reuse and recycle materials. NSW SMEs can also have a free assessment conducted by an EPA-funded Bin Trim Assessor.

Taking advantage of free recycling programs like ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ or MobileMuster are other easy recycling wins for workplaces.

BusinessRecycling.com.au and the Hotline 1300 763 768 are made possible through the support of Foundation Partner, the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

Ryan Collins, Recycling Programs Manager, Planet Ark

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