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How your business can reduce waste

There are many ways to reduce business waste – and many benefits!

Your business can save money on efficiencies in business processes, waste disposal costs and the waste levy. Other benefits include staying ahead of environmental regulation and the marketing advantage that can come with ‘green’ practices.

Hints and tips to get started

1.  Conduct an audit

Run an audit on your business to find out how much waste is produced by your business and the type of waste you are generating. The results can be your benchmark for implementing efficiencies.  There are many organisations that can assist you with this for a fee or utilise free tools from organisations as Source Separation Systems.  

Resources available to assist with a waste audit and understanding how you can reduce your waste include:

Eco Biz

Planet Ark Business Recycling

2.  Staff engagement and training

Involve your whole team in making the changes in your business from the beginning – if they feel engaged and their input valued, they’re more likely to support the changes.

Look for ambassadors to help drive the changes and be a point of contact and ensure that any new changes are well communicated to existing staff and new employees.

3.  Make a plan

Going zero-waste or reducing your waste can’t be achieved overnight. Use your audit results to set a plan of priorities and where to focus your efforts. This can help your team to concentrate their focus.

Consider using cost savings to drive further sustainability initiatives or use it as a reward to celebrate employee achievements.

4.  Work with like-minded businesses and leverage other waste reduction networks

For cost efficiencies and support, consider collaborating with other businesses in your area. This will allow you to share recycling services, pool resources and reduce costs.

There are a number of community groups and initiatives that are designed to assist businesses with reducing their waste such as Responsible Cafés, whose mission is to reduce disposable coffee cups from landfill. These networks can help promote your business’ waste reduction and sustainability efforts.

5.  Reduce your food waste

If your audit shows food and grocery waste, options could include:

  • Donating surplus to organisations such as Food Bank or Oz Harvest
  • An on-site compost bin or worm farm

For the food industry - clear communication about meal contents and options for meal sizes, can avoid leftovers and waste.

6.  Encourage and communicate

Telling team members and customers your goals is critical in reducing your waste. Have positive and encouraging signage in place that communicates what you are trying to achieve.

7.  E-waste

If your businesses is producing any electronic waste (e-waste), you can either sell it second hand or take it to Council’s Recycling and Waste Centres for re-purposing and recycling.

8.  Recycling

Use local council services to assist you with your recycling disposal. For example, if your audit shows recyclables going into your general waste, you can order commercial recycling bins from Council.

9.  Measure

Keep auditing - track how much waste you’ve reduced against your initial benchmark. See what is now being sent to landfill and start back at step two. Continue to measure your results and make further changes.

10. Look for grants

If initial set up costs are a constraint, find out if there are any grants available to assist you in setting up new processes.  For example, the Australian Government has a number of environmental grants and awards for businesses.

11.  Celebrate and shout about it!

Make sure you celebrate your achievements and let everyone know how well you’ve done. Tell your story - find out about any local or state based awards which recognise and celebrate eco-businesses.

Sustainability and waste reduction is a hot-topic and your company’s efforts to reduce waste are often appreciated by customers and the wider community.

Congratulations! You’re on your way to creating a more sustainable business and a better world.