Waste isn't just litter on the side of the road
Every step of the process requires it's own sacrifice of energy, water, and habitat, and generates its own waste material. Processing and finishing waste averages 70 times the weight or volume of a product, but the consumed energy, water and habitat compounds the hidden costs of waste.
talk about the bigger picture
In Wisconsin, mountains of trash are cheap and easy to build. Waste doesn't have to go far to find one. Except for a few materials, there is little cost difference between landfilling and recycling.
Efforts to divert waste from the landfill can be hard to justify based on disposal cost alone, so reduction is a key strategy for many. Savings are almost always hundreds of times higher if a material isn't purchased in the first place.
Beyond direct costs, understanding the broader impact of wasteful practices can help a business or institution value the effects of its actions on its customers, community and supply chain. There are tools and rules of thumb that can be used to estimate the greater economic and environmental impacts of your waste. The EPA's WARM model estimates atmospheric impacts, energy savings and job creation trends. At WasteCap we also like to note any water and habitat savings estimates that can be made as well.
START MEASURING TODAY
Set improvement goals based on the values that strike the strongest cord within an organization. Any goal to improve waste diversion (the percentage of material kept out of landfills) should also include material reduction efforts. Benchmark waste quantities against the key performance indicators that drive the numbers - total occupant hours, widgets produced, or shipments moved, for example.
Determining success isn't possible however without data. You can't manage what you don't measure, and you can't assume you're succeeding if you don't know the facts.
invite a professional to review your operations
Most of the companies that reach out to WasteCap already have a commitment to do better, be it for their shareholders, their employees, their community or their customers. Sometimes they are just starting their journey to improve their diversion rate, others are seeking help with zero waste certification. They all believe they are doing an great job, and it took them a leap of faith to ask for an outside opinion. For that they were always rewarded.
Zero waste professionals like those at WasteCap are able to quickly cover basic principles and common sources of errors. These initial cursory audits can reveal a lot in a short amount of time. Once the gaps are identified, you can build up an appropriate response that delivers the best returns for your particular values.
Reducing waste isn't a quick or easy journey, but there are plenty of us here who can help.
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