Let’s Talk about Waste Minimisation

Waste minimisation. It sounds so simple, yet when you are busy running a business, it can often be overlooked. Here are some ways in which you can help your business navigate waste reduction.

Understand your business’s waste streams

To make a start, you first need to understand your business’s waste streams. Get an idea of what and how much you are throwing away each week. If you started to divert or reduce a waste stream, could you reduce the size or collection frequency of your general waste bin? Not only is this better for the environment but it saves money too.

Council’s Waste Minimisation team is available to help identify waste reduction opportunities if you need support to get started.

Recycle right

Now that you know how much and what types of waste your business produces, set-up a fit-for-purpose recycling system. Paper, cardboard, cans, glass and plastic containers types 1, 2 & 5 can be recycled via kerbside collection systems or taken to a nearby transfer station. There are also specialised recycling schemes you can take other items to, including but not limited to: 

Keep organic waste out of your rubbish bin

When food and garden waste end up in landfill they rot, rather than composting. This produces harmful methane gas, and all the goodness of the food and garden waste is lost in the sealed landfill, depleting the health of our soils. An easy way to avoid this and make a big positive impact on the environment is to compost your organic waste instead. . An onsite compost system is a fantastic and easy way to divert your food waste. There is funding, resources and advice available to get an onsite system started for your business. However, depending on your set-up, an onsite composting system may not always be logistically possible. In these instances, a kerbside organics collection service is the way to go. Alternatively, if you think your food can be redistributed, then consider getting in touch with Kaibosh who specialise in redistributing quality surplus food to the community.

Optimise your procurement and purchasing processes
Ask yourself:

  • Are you wasting money on products that could be reusable instead of single use? For example, consider cotton hand towels or hand dryers instead of single use paper towels, or perhaps metal cutlery and crockery instead of disposable service ware?
  • Are you over ordering on perishables?
  • Do you receive items as a by-product of our operations that you dispose of, but then buy the same items new for another element of your business? For example, with boxes, shipping packaging, or bin liners. Could any of these be reused?

Establish a sustainable culture in the workplace

To ensure that your improvements stand the test of time, even with staff changes, it is vital that you establish a sustainable-friendly culture in the workplace. For example, set-up clear bin labels so all staff know where to put recycling and food waste. Shout staff a keep cup to be used around the office. The main idea is to get your colleagues thinking about waste minimisation and how they can improve their actions in the workplace.

If you want to take this idea further, you could create a ‘green team’ to organise social events with a sustainable focus. Activities could include: morning teas without the use of any single-use items; staff challenges during national campaign weeks (e.g. Plastic Free July, Recycling Week or Keep NZ Beautiful Clean Week; monthly ‘nude food lunches’; or Love Food Hate Waste promotion and recipes).

It is also important to consider the information given to new staff during their induction process. Do they know how to use the composting system properly? Do they know how to recycle? Do they know what your sustainable targets and goals are as a business? It is essential this information is communicated to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Waste minimisation involves a collective effort and there is no time like the present. Waste minimisation isn’t about a handful of people doing it perfectly - it is about everyone doing something! Is there one thing on the list above that stands out to you as something your business could implement? If so, we encourage you to start today.

Waste minimisation involves a collective effort and there is no time like the present.