Every day Welsh businesses are literally throwing away profit due to the waste they
produce. Many businesses are unaware of how significantly this impacts on their profitability. Others just don’t know where to go for practical confidential advice to help them make better use of their resources. A better understanding of the waste hierarchy will help you identify actions that can be taken to become more resource efficient. This guide is designed to help you understand what measures you can take based on the waste hierarchy that will help you to identify cost savings.
The Waste Hierarchy
Article 4 of the revised EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD Directive 2008/98/EC) sets out five steps for dealing with waste in order of priority. These steps form the basis of the waste hierarchy and illustrate the order of priority you should apply when making decisions about the resources used and the waste generated by your business. The five steps are:
- waste prevention (no waste – no problem)
- preparing waste for re-use – reuse, refurbish or repurpose
- recycling – segregate recyclates at source
- other recovery – for example food waste to anaerobic digestion to produce energy
- disposal - landfill
Understand what waste you are generating
Unless you know exactly what waste you are generating you cannot implement actions to apply the waste hierarchy, reduce waste and save money.
Start by walking round your site and observe items of waste in skips and bins. Talk to those responsible for emptying bins from your office or workshop to determine where the biggest waste streams are generated. Speak to your finance or office manager to gain details of costs associated with waste disposal and recycling, this should give you an idea of how much material is being generated and from that how much is sent for disposal or recycling.
If numbers aren’t readily available then you will need to develop a monitoring process over a fixed period of time to provide an accurate record.
Once you know how much waste you are generating and how much it costs you need to identify opportunities for reduction. Mapping exercises can help you to identify the key areas and activities that generate the most waste in your organisation. Avoidable waste can be due to one or more of the following problems:
- manpower – insufficient training, instruction and guidance for staff to avoid waste generation
- methods – no written procedures or signage for staff to follow to enable segregation and recycling
- materials – lower specification of raw materials leading to increased breakages, losses
- machinery – frequent break downs, change over or ‘warm up’ periods
Undertake the on-line BOSS training module for a step by step guide to identifying and reducing waste.