How Eco-Friendly Packaging Can Impact Your Business

In today’s world plastic has become an everyday item.  We use plastic in most areas of our lives.  In the home, in schools and workplaces.  Even in the cars and transport we use. But while there is a lot of talk about how bad for the environment plastic is, not a lot of people realise how many types of plastic there are and that not all of them are damaging to the planet.  There are a lot of eco-friendly and green packing innovations that are using bio-plastics to offer sustainable solutions.

With a worldwide focus on global warming, there are a lot of ways we can all make changes to help reduce greenhouse gasses.  Studies have shown that close to half of all emissions from the USA can be linked back to the energy used in the production, packaging, shipping, and disposal of food and other consumer products.  If packaging world-wide changed to using sustainable plastics it could have a massive shift in the environmental impact.

What is sustainable packaging?

How can you know if the industrial packaging uses is made from sustainable materials?  A major element to consider is where the materials have been sourced from.  For plastic to be classed as sustainable, the raw materials need to be extracted using clean methods.  The chemical properties used are also important as they need to be safe for consumption and won’t release toxins into the products packaged.

Why should you make the switch?

Cost-saving is always going to be a major factor in motivating manufacturers to change to more eco-friendly packaging options.  And when they can reduce their impact on the environment and reduce their expenses at the same time then it’s a no-brainer.

Luckily there are quite a few cost-effective options available for most packaging needs.  Polyolefin is a lightweight material that can be used in the place of corrugated paper or glass.  When it’s produced it uses less energy than to make the alternative materials which mean fewer greenhouse gasses are emitted.   It also reduces transport and storage costs as it is a much lighter material.  Polyolefin is also easy and cheap to dispose of as it is recyclable, reusable and often compostable as well.  It’s very durable and easy to handle and process so will also cut down on time and labour.

Using recyclable materials is a great way to minimize the amount of plastic waste, but it also has other benefits for your company.

With consumers becoming increasingly aware of the impact of plastics on the environment, it pays for companies to show their customers what they’re doing to help.  Recent surveys in multiple countries found that one in four people would choose a brand that clearly showed their packaging was made with sustainable materials over those that didn’t.  Up to 80% of consumers in America agreed they felt better when they chose to buy items that show they are sustainably produced.

Using more environmentally safe products can also help you increase your market share and expand into countries that have stricter restrictions on product packaging.  When Hewlett Packard made the decision to stop using lead soldering during manufacturing, it gave them access to sell products to countries in the European Union which had previously been unavailable due to the ban on lead products.  This exposed the company to millions of new customers.

What are your choices?

Depending on your industry, there are already a number of sustainable packaging options available on the market. Polyolefin is just one of the materials available but is versatility sees it used in multiple products.  There are shrink film and stretch wrap as well as carded packaging options you can try. Many packaging companies offer rentals on certain machines and equipment.

By making some small changes to your packaging choices, you can have an impact on how your customers view your brand and help the environment at the same time.

12 Ways Small Businesses Can Save Energy

Saving money is important for businesses and saving energy is important for all of us – so here is the perfect mix of both and some great tips for small businesses to save on energy.

  1. Get A Free Energy Audit

A full energy audit helps identify issues that might be causing energy wastage – these include insulation issues and air leaks. Most electricity utility companies offer these audits free of charge. The inspection not only helps you determine how energy is used but also ways to address energy wastage.  The audit report will also recommend ways to keep your energy usage on the low, such as investing in energy efficient lighting and equipment.

Inquire with Josco Energy Corporation about a free audit.

  1. Invest in Energy-Efficient Office Equipment

Energy efficient (energy-star rated) appliances use up less energy as compared to older non-rated ones. That said, it would be advisable for you to lease/buy energy star rated office electronics.  This should help see your energy bills drop significantly, hence substantial cost savings in the long run.

  1. Avoid Peak Demand

Peak demand can be defined as the time of the day when there’s a high demand for energy. These are the hours when energy usage is the highest. The typical peak hours start from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Reducing your demand for electricity during these times and only running the factory and heavy equipment early in the morning, and later in the evening can help reduce energy consumption. Reducing your demand for energy during peak hours also means the business spends less on energy usage at the end of the day.

  1. Use Programmable Thermostats

Smart thermostats make it easy to monitor and control temperatures in the workplace when everyone is in the office (9 – 5), and away. The thermostat can be programmed to turn OFF the heating and cooling appliances during the night, and back ON a few minutes to ‘work hours’. This in return sees you save lots of energy that would have otherwise been wasted had the HVAC systems remained on through the night.

  1. Switch Off Lights in Unused Areas

Most offices have an always-on lights setup. This means the lights in all rooms including bathrooms, conference rooms, breakrooms, and even unused corridors. This leads to energy wastage which can be preserved if lights were only turned on when needed. Installing sensors to turn the lights on or off when required could help too.

  1. Switch to Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs use up more energy for the same amount of light when compared to CFLs and LEDs that use just a fraction of it. Switching from incandescent bulbs to CFL or LEDs should help the company use less energy in lighting. This is the simplest and easiest ways to save energy in the workplace.

  1. Make Use of Natural Light

Always take advantage of the natural sunlight whenever you can. You can do so by drawing the blinds, curtains, and opening the windows to allow the sunlight in. Be sure to switch off lights in well-lit areas well. Letting the sunlight in also means you get passive heating from the sun, hence no need to have the heaters on. While it may seem like nothing, taking advantage of the natural sunlight should help save the business a few kilowatt hours a day.

  1. Run Fans

Have fans installed in showrooms, warehouses, kitchens, and offices alike. The fans will help keep the air moving, hence facilitate optimal air circulation. This means the HVAC system will run more efficiently and smoothly translating to lower energy consumption.

  1. Power Down Computers and Other Office Equipment When Not in Use

Having everyone power down their computers at the end of the day should help save lots of energy. You might also want to set the laptops to go to sleep or hibernate if not used for a certain number of minutes or hours. Be sure to turn off and unplug other electronic devices from the mains sockets.

Although modern toasters, coffee makers, printers, and other office appliances have a ‘sleep’ mode when not in use, these continue to draw some current if left plugged. Unplugging these will save some more kilowatts. 

  1. Avoid ‘Phantom’ Energy

As mentioned earlier, some equipment will continue to draw electricity when plugged in.  That said, making it a habit of unplugging such devices or using a power strip on them, can help save some energy. With a power strip, a simple flip of the switch will cut electricity supply to the connected devices. 

  1. Make Adjustments to the Surrounding Landscape

If you have control over the landscape around, you can then use it to your advantage. Energy-efficient landscaping, such as planting trees strategically to block winds and provide shelter, will go a long way in reducing heating and cooling costs.

  1. Involve the Employees

Encouraging the employees to take on energy-efficiency practices can help reduce electricity costs and energy wastage too. Train the employees to turn off their computers after work, switch off lights, as well as use energy efficient appliances in the workplace.  Inspiring them to save more energy should work well for the company. You can see more tips and tricks on how to improve employee energy-saving practices here.

Managing Your Business Maintenance Waste

Just 6% of businesses consider their maintenance department to be well established, showing just how little attention companies are paying to this area. No employee likes trash piling up in the bins around the office. The only solution to this problem is to help arrange a Roll Off Dumpster Berks County that can be placed under the company building and emptied on specific days of the week. This can get your business to be more organized just by making waste removal services more accessible.

As a result, wastage is often high, which eats into profit margins. When an office is refurbished, there will inevitably be some waste created, which the company must pay for. In order to mitigate the damage, business managers should put more attention into their maintenance strategy, acting preventatively rather than reactively. This way, waste will be limited. The resulting waste can then be converted into energy, thus becoming a money maker rather than a drain on resources.

Benefits of Sustainability for Business

Sustainability is really a no-brainer from a business perspective, yet many companies are failing to hit a sustainable level of waste management. US consumers are beginning to care more about a business’s environmental impact over the price of their products, with 67% supporting an end to single-use plastic straws. Not only will restructuring your waste strategy save you money on cleanup, but it will improve the image of your company. In these eco-conscious times, this is essential.

Furthermore, a recent poll by Michigan State University found that 88% of Americans take steps to reduce their food wastage. This shows how high a priority this is for the average customer. If you can target more resources towards sustainable waste management, then you are bound to see increased profits in other areas.

Scheduling and Planning

Cutting waste is all about taking preventative actions rather than reacting to circumstances as they arise. By planning your maintenance ahead of time, it is possible to identify areas where wastage will occur and take steps to avoid this. Work with the most experienced maintenance waste managers for the best results. You are probably already a top planner when it comes to marketing and sales, but are you using these skills when maintenance work needs carrying out?

Before any big construction or renovation project, have an expert identify the quantity of waste that will be produced. You will then be able to schedule in workers to come and remove it immediately, increasing efficiency and lowering costs. It is then up to you to dispose of this waste in a way which is responsible.

Profit From Your Waste

The average business uses between 15,000 and 25,000 kWh per year. This energy has to come from somewhere. Given the amount of waste produced by a typical company, why not put this back into your operation by converting it to energy or transforming it into useful products? This is a win-win situation. You get to carry out the necessary maintenance to keep your business running, while receiving free energy to power your company and promoting an eco-friendly brand image.

Maintenance is an important part of every business, but many managers neglect the cost of waste. Staying on top of your waste management is guaranteed to cut costs and boost profits. Have a waste management schedule in place and use the trash to provide a sustainable energy source as well as useful products.

Easy Ways to be Greener in Your Marine Business

Do you run a marine-oriented business? If so, then you may have a unique opportunity to practice environmental conservation. Water, as you know, plays a major role in sustaining life on Earth. Anything you can do to preserve and protect water goes a long way in helping to combat climate change. Marine work covers a wide range of fields, but we found a few tips and tricks that may be applicable to most relevant businesses. Here are a few easy ways to make your marine business greener.

Use Less Chemicals in Pools

Here’s a tip for those who work in pool maintenance: use less chemicals. You can use fewer chemicals and also maintain a clean and healthy pool. This may take some strategic planning on your part, but it’s possible.

There are two main chemicals that are used to kill bacteria in pools: chlorine and bromine. Chlorine is more commonly used because it’s cheaper. But bromine is a longer-lasting chemical. Chlorine requires weekly doses because it’s neutralized quickly. You don’t need to dose the pull with bromine every week because bromine is more resilient. When you use bromine, you’re using less chemicals, which is better for the environment.

The downside to bromine is that it’s much more expensive than chlorine. If you have clients who are passionate about the environment, you could explain this to them and ask if they’d be willing to pay a slightly higher fee for bromine chemicals. Remember that you might be able to reduce the number of visits to that pool if you use bromine on it, which could reduce your operational costs.

Use Pool Covers

Water naturally evaporates from pools, and pool owners spend a lot of money having to top-off the pool with water every month. It’s a bigger problem in warmer areas, like in Nevada or Southern California. Water is a resource that’s taken for granted, and some of those aforementioned regions experience severe water shortages in times of drought. You should try and limit how often your clients’ pools are re-filled.

Convince your clients to use pool covers during months when they don’t use the pool as frequently. Covers reduce the amount of water that evaporates from the pool. You may be able to charge clients for having your employees cover and uncover the pool. You can use pathos to argue your case; pool covers also prevent young children and small animals from drowning.

Practice Eco-Friendly Boating

Do you run a business that involves boating? Be careful about which chemicals you use when you’re cleaning and maintaining your boat. Some chemicals contribute to harmful emissions, while others can pollute the ocean or lakes and kill marine life.

You should use marine foam and marine paint when you’re doing maintenance on the hull and exterior features. Those materials are eco-friendly. You should avoid using antifouling paint, which is very dangerous for marine life. You should also limit your use of household cleaners. You don’t want these chemicals spilling into the ocean. Try and use natural cleaners instead, like vinegar, lemon, and baking soda.

It’s illegal to dump sewage in any body of navigable water because sewage is bad for the ocean. Always properly dispose of sewage at a pumpout facility. Be proactive in fixing leaks, and always have absorbent towels on hand to clean oil off the bilge.

SCUBA Conservation

If you run a dive shop, be vigilant in protecting the reefs where you take divers. Educate divers—especially new divers—about not touching coral reefs, and about being careful where they kick their fins. Most scuba divers are respectful of the underwater ecosystems, but there’s a bad apple in every bunch. If you have to, threaten to end dives short if any diver knowingly disobeys your environmental rules.

Recycle

Last, but certainly not least, recycle! Recycling is one of the easiest and most simple ways to make your marine business more eco-friendly. Regardless of whether you’re a contractor or if you work on a boat, you should always have recycling bins where you can toss used plastics and glass. Take these materials to recycling facilities so that they can be properly re-made into new items. Some recycling facilities even pay you for bringing in materials.

If you run a marine-based business, you have the potential to protect the environment in a huge number of ways. Practice eco-friendly cleaning methods and sustainability, and educate your clients on how they can contribute.

Entrepreneurship in Solid Waste Management

Entrepreneurship in solid waste management can be instrumental in environment protection, decentralization, economic restructuring and job creation. Entrepreneurial opportunities in solid waste planning are available in the areas of waste collection, handling, sorting, storage, transport, transformation and energy recovery.

Entrepreneurship begins with the generation of an idea and culminates in realization of the project objectives. Historically, the improvement of waste management services by the public sector has been hampered by lack of funds in both developed and developing nations.

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Basic safety equipment is essential to minimize health risks to informal recycling sector.

Entrepreneurs can not only invest money in solid waste management sector, but also infuse new ideas, technologies and skills which can transform waste from being a liability into an asset. The efficiency of solid waste management increases with the involvement of entrepreneurs. Infact, it has been observed that involvement of entrepreneurs in solid waste management planning can reduce the service cost by half in Latin American cities with higher employment generation and vehicles productivity.

Entrepreneurial ventures in solid waste management can range from a one-man project to a mega-scale project involving thousands of skilled and unskilled workers. It has been observed that solid waste management is a labour-intensive process with tremendous potential to generate new jobs, depending on the type of project and the level of creativity. The major areas of entrepreneurial involvement include waste collection, transportation, reuse and recycling, upcycling and power generation.

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Basic safety equipment is essential to minimize health risks to informal recycling sector.

According to the World Bank, municipalities in developing countries typically spend 20 to 50 per cent of their annual budget on solid waste management, but only 40 to 70 per cent of solid waste is collected and less than 50 per cent of the population has access to municipal waste collection services. Solid waste planning is an integral component of urban development as it contributes to public health, resource conservation and environment protection. Scientific disposal of domestic waste can prevent environmental degradation and harmful public health impacts while recycling can help in conservation of precious natural resources.

Entrepreneurial activities in solid waste collection can not only increase waste collection efficiency but also improve waste management services for the marginalized sections of the society. An excellent example is the case of Nigeria-based Wecyclers which is aiming to building a low-cost waste collection infrastructure in Lagos by offering cheap and convenient domestic waste recycling services using a fleet of cargo bikes.

Green SMEs: Catalyst for Green Economy

With ‘green’ being the buzzword across all industries, greening of the business sector and development of green skills has assumed greater importance all over the world. SMEs, startups and ecopreneurs are playing a vital role in the transition to a low-carbon economy by developing new green business models for different industrial sectors. Infact, young and small firms are emerging as main drivers of radical eco-innovation in the industrial and services sectors.

Green SMEs

What are Green SMEs

Green SMEs adopt green processes and/or those producing green goods using green production inputs. A judicious exploitation of techno-commercial opportunities and redevelopment of business models, often neglected by established companies, have been the major hallmarks of green SMEs.

For example, SMEs operating in eco-design, green architecture, renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability are spearheading the transition to green economy across a wide range of industries. The path to green economy is achieved by making use of production, technology and management practices of green SMEs. Impact investment platforms, such as Swell Investing, allows individuals to invest in environmentally sustainable companies.

Categories of Green Industries

Environmental Protection Resource Management
Protection of ambient air Water management
Protection of climate Management of forest resources
Wastewater management Management of flora and fauna
Waste management Energy management
Noise and vibration abatement Management of minerals
Protection of biodiversity and landscape Eco-construction
Protection against radiation Natural resource management activities
Protection of soil, groundwater and surface water Eco-tourism
Environmental Monitoring and Instrumentation Organic agriculture
Research and Development Research and Development

Key Drivers

The key motivations for a green entrepreneur are to exploit the market opportunity and to promote environmental sustainability. A green business help in the implementation of innovative solutions, competes with established markets and creates new market niches. Green entrepreneurs are a role model for one and all as they combine environmental performance with market targets and profit outcomes, thus contributing to the expansion of green markets.

Some of the popular areas in which small green businesses have been historically successful are renewable energy production (solar, wind and biomass), smart metering, building retrofitting, hybrid cars and waste recycling.

As far as established green industries (such as waste management and wastewater treatment) are concerned, large companies tend to dominate, however SMEs and start-ups can make a mark if they can introduce innovative processes and systems. Eco-friendly transformation of existing practices is another attractive pathway for SMEs to participate in the green economy.

The Way Forward

Policy interventions for supporting green SMEs, especially in developing nations, are urgently required to overcome major barriers, including knowledge-sharing, raising environmental awareness, enhancing financial support, supporting skill development and skill formation, improving market access and implementing green taxation.

In recent decades, entrepreneurship in developing world has been increasing at a rapid pace which should be channeled towards addressing water, energy, environment and waste management challenges, thereby converting environmental constraints into business opportunities.

Ideas That Could Reshape How Companies Use Energy

Recent projections show that the world’s energy demands are about to increase by close to 25% between now and 2030. Population and wealth growth are the leading factors behind the increased need for energy. Additionally, issues related to pollution and climate change are compelling companies and investors alike with respect to how they produce and use energy.

Grs a global resource solutions company offers a plethora of services that could help industries reshape and streamline their energy consumption.

Energy efficiency is playing a vital role in helping the world achieve its power needs and progress.

Increase in Fuel Prices

The prices of energy have kept rising over the years even when oil prices have dropped as was the case in 2014-2015. Such sudden fluctuations can be difficult for businesses to deal with. Also, declines in energy prices have called into question whether the efforts in energy conservation and efficiency are worth it.

According to various financial analyses, energy costs form a considerable chunk of operating expenses. Worldwide, cement, chemical, mining and metal companies, for instance, spend almost 30% of their operating budget on energy. Additionally, the percent of the budget spent on energy is higher in developing nations due to the cheap cost of labor.

Energy Efficiency

Statistics and research show that operational upgrades can cut energy consumption by approximately 20%. Nonetheless, investment in energy efficiency technologies can reduce energy usage by even 50%.

The reports and findings show that it is not a pipe dream for manufacturing entities, which account for almost half of the world’s energy usage, to meet energy requirements in a way that is environmentally friendly and economical as well. Advanced technology could substantially reduce energy usage and save companies more than six hundred billion dollars per year.

There are technologies currently in place that can help industries reduce energy use. The ideas cover a range of manufacturing and production groups like cement, mining, oil refining and chemicals. Nonetheless, firms are facing the challenge of how to put energy efficiency technology in place how to renew the technology so that it stays relevant year in and year out.

Think Circular

Consider your product to be a future source that can be used many times. In other words, when developing a product, strive to move away from the traditional linear supply chain. Take, for example, a data services provider. Put in place the think circular standard by using an analytics system to develop a facility that restructures energy to its core function. This results in more capacity and less operational expenses.

Profit Per Hour

Whenever making any changes, remember to create a comprehensive review of the full profit equation. During the study, evaluate aspects such as yield, throughput and energy. Nonetheless, profit should be of the highest priority before effecting any changes.

Think Lean

It is vital for an organization to create a resource productivity plan. Lean thinking and green thinking are based on similar principles and will blend in together well.

Think Holistic

When making changes, ensure that they not only focus on a specific aspect. Instead, you should also focus on the management system, behavior and mindsets.

Zero-Waste Trends in the United States

Most people don’t see what happens to their trash. They throw it in a black plastic bag, toss the bag into a dumpster and the trash man collects it once a week and makes it disappear. Magic, right?

Wrong.

Most of our trash ends up in a landfill where it is buried and mixed in with decades-worth of junk. Certain items will break down over time while others are essentially just stored there, in a graveyard of forgotten items and a mountain of garbage.

In the year since China banned the import of other countries’ plastic recyclables, the global recycling industry has been in flux, resulting in plastics ending up in landfills, incinerators and littering the environment. This is causing countries and citizens across the globe to reexamine their recycling systems and highlights the need for zero waste practices.

Zero waste is the concept of eliminating the amount of trash thrown away by only purchasing reusable items. That’s a significant shift from the 4.4 pounds of trash that the average American tosses every day. But certain trends are helping make the idea of zero waste a reality in the United States. Let us have a look:

Replace Single-Use Packaging With Reusable Materials

Way too many plastic items that we use every day are meant to be used only once. And the amount of packaging that goes into shipping one box, that will simply get tossed in the garbage after the parcel is unwrapped, is astounding. In fact, 40 percent of plastic produced is packaging, which is thrown away after it arrives at your doorstep.

Plastic bag and straw bans are on the rise across the globe. Consumers are becoming more conscious of how their use of these items contributes to the trash crisis. Recent data shows that customers are more likely to buy products from brands that promote sustainable business practices.

Reduce Energy Waste By Choosing Renewable Options

Many industries are opting to reduce energy waste by pursuing renewable energy sources. U.S. manufacturers account for 30 percent of the nation’s energy consumption, which means manufacturers must take the lead in reducing fossil fuel consumption and energy waste.

The U.S. is the leader in energy waste. Americans spend $350 billion on energy costs each year, yet three-quarters of that energy goes to waste. One way to reduce the burden on our power grid — and our wallets — from all that lost energy is by switching to renewable sources.

Air compressors are vital to the upkeep of a successful farm, and many producers in the agricultural sector are also reducing waste by switching to high-powered air compressors that, when properly maintained, can reduce energy usage and cut costs.

Eliminate Food Waste

About 94 percent of food waste ends up in landfills, which contribute to methane gas emissions. Reducing food waste not only helps the environment, but it also decreases the amount you have to spend at the grocery store. It also helps to conserve energy, as less power is needed to grow and produce food if less is wasted.

Individual consumers can help eliminate food waste by freezing leftovers to preserve them and composting uneaten food, as opposed to tossing in the trash.

Restaurants can use these tactics and others to cut down on food waste, such as donating leftovers and properly training staff to get on board with waste reduction. They can also hire auditors to help them identify ways to reduce waste and streamline business practices.

Never Too Late to Make a Change

Though the statistics may seem disheartening, the reality is that it’s never too late to make a change in your individual or business habits to help cut down on waste and work toward the goal of accomplishing zero waste. Following these trends and implementing others is just one way to do your part to eliminate waste and protect the environment.

How to Incorporate Sustainability into Your Business

Since catapulting to the frontlines of news headlines and global consciousness, climate change is one of the most talked about and concerning topics of the modern age. Fortunately with this shift in cognition, manufacturers all across the globe have banded together to create green products in hopes of a more eco-friendly future. It’s these very products that can transform any business from a wasteful guzzler to a green success. With this guide, we’ll walk you through how you can incorporate sustainability into your daily business practice.

Switch out the incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs for a longer-lasting and more energy-efficient brilliance. Compact-fluorescent (CFL) and LED light bulbs tend to carry higher price tags than the average fluorescent bulb, however they offer a far more attractive projected lifespan than typical fluorescent bulbs which tend to offer 1,200 hours of  light.

LED bulbs, on average, cost around $5 and offer 25,000 hours of light, while CFL light bulbs cost about $2 and offer 10,000 hours of projected lifespan. Not only are CFL and LED lights more practical from a sustainability standpoint, but they will also save you thousands on your business’s electric bill.

Using biodegradable kitchen supplies to save on plastic waste. Unless your office is the type of place where employees keep personal dishes in the kitchen cupboard, you will likely need to keep a stash of utensils, cups, and plates on deck for any catered lunches or work parties. Instead of giving into the cheap prices of eco-unfriendly plastic ware, invest in biodegradable kitchen packaging for a greener feast. With fewer resource requirements, these biodegradable forks, spoons, and knives will leave your business with a reduced carbon footprint.

Green SMEs

Recycling ink cartridges is a great practice to put in place for businesses equipped with a number of printers. Believe it or not, the vast majority of discarded ink cartridges end up in harmful, toxic landfills that eventually end up in our oceans. Ink cartridge recycling is the most eco-friendly solution to this preventable problem. There are a number of simple ways to take those empty cartridges off your hands and into the hands of a trusted recycler:

  • Find a local recycling facility: You may not even know where your local recycle center is located. Luckily Earth911 can guide you to the nearest location for easy cartridge recycling.
  • Find a local office supply store: Did you know most office supply stores offer recycle programs? Check online or call in to see if they accept ink cartridges.
  • Consider refilling original cartridges: Do a bit of research on the brand of your empty ink cartridge. You may find that they are able to refill your cartridge and you won’t ever have to worry about tossing them!

Opening up windows is an easy solution to a stuffy, warm office. When people are packed like sardines into their tiny cubicles, the air can quickly become stale and stifling. Instead of wasting money and energy on air conditioning, open a few windows to let fresh air flow in. Air conditioners put hydrofluorocarbons, a type of greenhouse gas emission, into the environment—so while you may feel refreshed, the earth is further harmed. Reduce your business’ contribution by saving the AC for the more-unbearable summer days.

Invest in renewable energy sources for a long-term, energy-efficient, and eco-friendly power solution. Every year, we see more and more solar panels sitting atop rooftops, which means the time to invest in solar panels is now. By converting sunlight into a sustainable power source, solar panels are the greenest source of energy on the planet today. Solar energy can be used heat buildings and provide energy to power lights on.

Turning to post-consumer waste to escape the cycle of high-volume paper waste is an exceptional solution for any company that uses a lot of paper. PCW paper is paper re-made at recycling facilities. According to the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator, PCW paper saves on

  • 5,610 gallons of water
  • 5,000,000 BTU of energy
  • 376 pounds of solid waste
  • 1,035 pounds of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions

In 2019, there are no more excuses for why a business is stuck in the past. The future can be a bright one if we all put our best foot forward and make the effort to make our spaces greener!

Waste Minimisation – Role of Public, Private and Community Sector

When it comes to waste minimisation and moving material up the waste hierarchy you will find partisan advocates for the roles of the public, private and community sectors. Each will tell you the reasons why their sector’s approach is the best. The private sector will extol their virtues as the only ones capable of efficiently and effectively doing the job.  They rightly note that they are the providers on the front lines who actually recover the vast majority of material, that the private sector approach drives innovation and efficiency, and that if waste minimisation is to be sustainable this must include economic sustainability.

 

The community sector on the other hand will make a strong case to say that their model, because it commonly encompasses social, environmental, and economic outcomes, is able to leverage value from recovered materials to dig deeper into the waste stream, to optimise recovered material quality, and to maximise employment and local economic benefit.

Before recycling and composting were economically viable prospects, community sector organisations led the way, developing many of the techniques now widely used. They remain the leaders in marginal areas such as furniture reuse, running projects that deliver environmental outcomes while providing wider community benefits such as rehabilitation and training for marginalised groups.

Finally, in the public sector corner, advocates will point out that the profit-driven private sector will only ever recover those materials that are able to generate positive revenues, and so cannot maximise waste minimisation, while social outcomes are strictly a secondary consideration. The community sector, on the other hand, while encompassing non-monetary values and capable of effective action on a local scale, is not set up to deliver these benefits on a larger scale and can sometimes struggle to deliver consistent, professional levels of service.

The public sector can point to government’s role in legislating to promote consistent environmental and social outcomes, while councils are major providers and commissioners of recycling services and instrumental in shaping public perceptions around waste issues. The public sector often leads in directing activity towards non-monetary but otherwise valuable outcomes, and provides the framework and funding for equity of service levels.

So who is right? Each sector has good arguments in its favour, and each has its weaknesses. Does one approach carry the day?  Should we just mix and match according to our personal taste or based on what is convenient?

Perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Maybe the issue is not “which approach is better?” but instead “how might the different models help us get to where we ultimately want to go?”

Smells Like Waste Minimisation

So where do we want to go?  What is the waste minimisation end game?

If we think about things from a zero waste perspective, the ideal is that we should move from linear processes of extraction, processing, consumption and disposal, to cyclical processes that mimic nature and that re-integrate materials into economic and natural systems.  This is the nirvana – where nothing is ‘thrown away’ because everything has a further beneficial use.  In other words what we have is not waste but resources.  Or to put it another way – everything has value.

Assuming that we continue to operate in an essentially capitalist system, value has to be translated into economic terms.  Imagine if every single thing that we now discard was worth enough money to motivate its recovery.  We would throw nothing away: why would we if there was money to be made from it?

So in a zero waste nirvana the private sector and the community sector would take care of recovery almost automatically.  There might evolve a community and private sector mix, with each occupying different niches depending on desired local outcomes. There would be no need for the public sector to intervene to promote waste minimisation.  All it would need to do would be to set some ground rules and monitor the industry to ensure a level playing field and appropriate health and safety.

Sectoral Healing

Returning to reality, we are a long way from that zero waste nirvana.  As things stand, a bunch of materials do have economic value, and are widely recycled. Another layer of materials have marginal value, and the remainder have no value in practical terms (or even a negative value in the case of hazardous wastes).

The suggested shift in perspective is most obvious in terms of how we think about the role of the public sector. To bring us closer to our goal, the public sector needs to intervene in the market to support those materials of marginal value so that they join the group that has genuine value.

Kerbside (or curbside) collection of certain materials, such as glass and lower value plastics, is an example of an activity that is in effect subsidised by public money. These subsidies enable the private sector to achieve environmental outcomes that we deem sufficiently worthwhile to fund.

However, the public sector should not just be plugging a gap in the market (as it largely does now), but be working towards largely doing itself out of a job. If we are to progress towards a cyclical economy, the role of the public sector should not be to subsidise marginal materials in perpetuity, but to progressively move them from marginal to genuinely economic, so that they no longer require support.

At the same time new materials would be progressively targeted and brought through so that the range and quantity requiring disposal constantly shrinks.  This suggests a vital role for the public sector that encompasses research, funding for development of new technologies and processes, and setting appropriate policy and price structures (such as through taxes, levies, or product stewardship programmes).

Similarly, the community sector, because it is able to ‘dig deeper’ into the waste stream, has a unique and ongoing role to play in terms of being able to more effectively address those materials of marginal value as they begin to move up the hierarchy.  The community sector’s unique value is its ability to work at the frontiers.

Meanwhile, the private sector’s resources and creativity will be needed to enable efficient systems to be developed to manage collection, processing and recycling of materials that reach the threshold of economic viability – and to create new, more sustainable products that fit more readily into a waste minimising world.

In the end, then, perhaps the answer is to stop seeing the three models as being in competition. Instead, we should consciously be utilising the unique characteristics of each so that we can evolve our practices towards a future that is more functional and capable of delivering the circular economy that must eventuate if we are to sustain ourselves on this planet.

Note: The article is being republished with the kind permission of our collaborative partner Isonomia. The original article can be viewed at this link