April 10, 2024

Zero Waste in Business: Strategies for Sustainable Operations

Zero-waste is often thought of as an ideal to strive toward, not a realistic possibility for businesses looking to improve sustainability. However, not only is Zero-Waste an achievable standard for businesses, it’s a beneficial approach that can lower costs, increase efficiency, and increase regulatory compliance. Costs for landfilling waste in the United States are steadily rising since 2020, according to the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, with landfill tipping rates being as high as $75.92 in the Northeast in 2022. But, how can a business dependent on landfills even begin to implement Zero-Waste to offset costs of waste?

1. Assess and Set Goals 

The first step for implementing Zero-Waste is to assess the current state of waste management in the business. Start with assessing products, packaging, and supplies coming into the business. Once a starting point has been established, the next steps toward zero-waste will be clearer. 

2. Train, train, train 

Employees must not only be aware of the initiative, but an integral part of implementing zero waste strategies throughout the organization. Train employees to follow zero waste protocol and encourage zero waste as a business value and mission. 

3. Minimize sources of waste

Sometimes, it's easier to work backwards with sustainability. Start with the source of the waste. Are there ways to minimize waste before it even comes to the business? Assess products, packaging, and supplies. 

4. Reuse and Recycle!

Now that the initial flow of waste into the business has been reduced, reusing and recycling the remaining waste will divert the waste from landfills, ultimately saving the business landfill costs. Google is an example of an incredibly successful zero waste business model, sending less than 10% of waste to be converted into energy. Globally, Google is diverting at least 86% of data center operation waste from landfills. How did they do this? By reducing, reusing and recycling. 

5. Composting

Organic waste is a little different. Composting is another way to divert waste from landfills and ultimately save the business costs. Set up a composting bin in the office to reduce organic waste!

6. Measure success 

Once the business has a zero waste model in place, make sure to keep track of success and measure how much waste is being recycled or diverted from landfills. Also track costs and finances to measure how much zero waste is saving the business financially. 

Want to learn more about sustainability? CIRT is a recycling software company that helps companies recycle internally, with B2B practices, and externally to the end customer. CIRT uses dynamic data to help educate consumers in a user friendly way. The goal is to know where products are ending up at the end of their lifecycle and provide information on what can be recycled where. CIRT  is a women-owned company and a Benefit Corporation (B Corp), focusing on environmental sustainability along with the other pillars outlined by B Corp. Visit our website to learn more: https://www.cirt.tech/