Managing waste from commercial and industrial sources can dramatically reduce the waste going to landfill.
A waste audit is a useful starting point to:
- define sources, quantities and types of wastes generated;
- identify where, when, how and why these wastes arise;
- identify areas of wastage and waste problems; and
- establish targets and priorities for waste reduction.
Results from a waste audit may identify many opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle in commercial and industrial settings.
Reducing and re-using waste in industry
Reducing waste in a commercial or industrial setting can reduce landfill fees and could also include reducing the toxicity or hazard of a waste material. Waste reduction techniques include:
- Changing the composition of the product to reduce the amount of waste resulting from the product's use;
- Reducing or eliminating hazardous materials that enter the production process;
- Using technology (including measuring and cutting) to make changes to the production process, equipment, layout or piping; or operating conditions;
- Purchasing only what is needed to avoid waste from unwanted materials (inventory control) and;
- Advertising waste materials (on-selling).
Good operating practices, such as waste minimisation programs, management and personnel practices, loss prevention, and waste segregation also helps to reduce waste at its source.
Recycling Techniques in industry
Recycling is the next option. Operators can:
- Return waste material to original process;
- Use the waste material as a raw material substitute for another process;
- Process waste material for resource recovery;
- Process waste material as a by-product; and
- Engage contractors to collect/recycle waste material.
Planet Ark also offers a free business directory specifically designed for Australian businesses searching for local re-use and recycling options. The site also provides recycling information for around 90 material types.
Waste Reduction by industry sector
For some industry sectors there are waste reduction guidelines.
The retail industry can generate large volumes of waste via the packaging received for incoming stock. Examples of methods to reduce waste in the retail sector include purchasing goods to on-sell with less packaging and recycling or re-using the packaging received.
Office and Commercial
Large amounts of paper are derived from offices: up to 55 per cent of office waste is paper. Staff can reduce, reuse and recycle paper and buy recycled paper.
Malfunctioning, unused or unwanted electrical equipment is an increasing area of the waste stream and an increasing problem for disposal. Buying equipment wisely, maintaining it correctly and recycling old equipment can help to reduce this e-waste. Choosing office equipment wisely and maintaining and operating it well can also have a great impact on energy consumption and running costs.
Printer toner cartridges can be re-conditioned and batteries and mobile phones can be recycled. See the Recycling Near You website.
The Green Office Guide, produced by Commonwealth, State and Territory environmental agencies, has information on green office equipment.
The NSW Department of Environment and Conservation has produced a waste reduction guide for office tenants.
Hotels, Pubs and Clubs
The hotel industry has the potential to generate unnecessary waste, for example, from incorrect storage and handling of food and preparing excess food.
In Victorian hotels, a survey indicated that more than 80 per cent of waste generated in hotels is recyclable, reusable or compostable.
The NSW EPA has developted tips for reducing food waste in commercial food premises.
Catering and Events
Caterers can reduce food waste at events and reduce the use of disposable crockery and cutlery.
The EPA has developed Sustainable Event Guidelines.
Construction and Demolition
Large volumes of waste arise from the construction and demolition (C&D) sector. This accounts for approximately one third of the total waste stream in Tasmania and Australia. In 2006-2007, approximately 43% of Australian C&D waste went to landfill.
There are many ways the construction industry can reduce waste, from planning through to demolition. The culture and behaviour of procurement teams (including clients, architects, designers, planners, engineers, site operatives, facility managers, construction workers, contractors and subcontractors) can affect waste management practices.
Buildings can have eco-friendly design that incorporates deconstruction principles for ease of demolition and recycling. Building materials can be from recycled materials and/or they can be recyclable. Accurately estimating quantities of materials is important, as is separating and recycling waste onsite.
Designing and building to standard sizes and having some materials pre-fabricated offsite can reduce waste in the short and long term.
Sustainability Victoria has construction industry guidelines. It has developed guidelines on How to Minimise Construction and Demolition Waste which helps builders calculate and record volumes of waste.