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Are Companies Doing Enough To Reduce Their Business Waste?

Waste paper basket

More consumers are calling on businesses to do more when it comes to recycling and sustainability. In an independent study by SmartestEnergy, 81 percent of consumers said they would prefer to make their purchases from sustainable sellers. While there has been marked consumer progress in managing their waste and recycling, companies are still falling short in some areas when it comes to waste management. On the one hand, there are commendable initiatives like offering free repairs to minimize product waste and an increasing range of money-saving eco-friendly gadgets on the market. On the other hand, waste production has continued to increase since 1995. In fact, nine in 10 companies still do not have a recycling policy. So, with the conversation about sustainability growing louder, the only question that remains is: are companies doing enough about their own waste management?

Zero Waste Companies Continue To Increase

With the rise of zero waste shopping, more companies have risen to the challenge and gone completely waste-free by finding innovative ways to reuse, recycle and in some cases, remove their business waste. Zero-waste stores like Package Free, Wild Minimalist, and The Earthling Co. are no longer a niche market. Now, larger chains and supermarkets like Subaru and Unilever are following the trend. Recently, automobile manufacturer Subaru celebrated a decade of sending zero waste to landfills. For Unilever, strategies like opting for reusable containers and reusing their shipping boxes have proven incredibly beneficial.

Cross-Industry Collaborations And Innovations Expose New Alternatives For Food Waste 

At home, most Americans can support the 2030 Food Loss Reduction program with simple changes like meal planning and composting. It is estimated that American households toss out $240 billion in food waste annually. However, businesses in the food industry also rival consumers when it comes to food waste. Supermarkets contribute 10 percent of food waste in the US – almost 43 billion pounds of food waste each year. In fact, 30 percent of grocery store produce ends up as food waste. These staggering statistics highlight a prime area that needs to be addressed if business waste is to be reduced – something companies in many industries are taking note of. With this in mind, Aldi has committed to diverting 90 percent of its operational waste by 2025, with the help of its new sustainability charter.

In the US, 400 of Aldi’s stores and all of its warehouses utilize natural refrigerants. To reduce its operational waste, the chain has launched plans like local food bank donations, composting, and its already operational recycling program for store and warehouse waste. By the end of this year, all Styrofoam will be removed from its packaging. In other areas, Redwood Materials announced its alliance with ERI, a processor of electronic waste in North America. The collaboration will see Redwood Materials receive 30 tons of lithium-ion batteries weekly, which they will then turn into raw materials.

State Wide Initiatives On Course To Regulate Business Waste Response

More state and environmental authorities are focusing on implementing regulations to encourage companies to comply with state sustainability aims. In San Francisco, companies are required to separate their waste into three categories: compostables, recyclables, and landfill. This is a part of the city’s zero waste by 2020 initiative.

Over in Austin, Texas construction companies are required to recycle or reuse at least half of their debris. Finally, in Los Angeles, companies can get tax breaks for recycling. In fact, 25 states now offer tax incentives and break if businesses invest in recycling equipment – making it much more lucrative for businesses to tackle their business waste management process.

There is also more good news on the business waste front. For example, Nestle Waters invested in Timeplast in late 2020 as a part of their bid to explore alternative packaging. Still, while there has been remarkable progress in getting businesses to be more aware and proactive of how they manage their business waste from both ends of the production process, there remains a long road ahead.

More on this topic:

Implementing a Zero-Waste Business Strategy – Eric Dalius Shares Three Ways

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