Last week marked the halfway point in our six-part blog series on how to build a successful waste and recycling program. This week, we’re on Step 4: Eliminate of the RUBICONMethod, a set of step-by-step instructions designed to make a sustainability program work for businesses of any size or industry. Tune in each week for information on each of the six steps to the RUBICONMethod, or download the full guide to work through each step at your own pace and access the checklists and worksheets provided.
Over the past three weeks, this blog series has worked through Step 1: Determine, Step 2: Initiate and Step 3: Vocalize. These steps helped you determine your existing waste landscape, initiate a plan forward and vocalize that plan to internal and external stakeholders. This week, we’re ready to start eliminating waste.
Whether it’s paper, plastic, organics or even non-recyclable waste – your business is likely throwing away something that could be reused, recycled, or simply eliminated from the start. And both your business and the environment are paying for it. Let’s see what kinds of waste we can eliminate.
Step 4: Eliminate
Not surprisingly, the best way to eliminate waste is to not create it in the first place. In this step, we introduce more sustainable options and methods for reducing everyday waste.
Let’s start with food…
Food waste makes up 50% of the material buried in landfills each year. This means that food is an incredibly impactful item to consider when looking at your comprehensive waste footprint.
Ways to Eliminate and Divert Food Waste
- Get a compost service to pick up food waste
- Be more careful when ordering catering (get an exact headcount, ask for specific food orders instead of larger platters)
- Encourage staff to take home leftover food
- Find a local organization who will accept leftover food or ask caterers and food vendors if they have a way to donate leftover food
Where there’s food, there’s tableware…
Disposable tableware and non-recyclables
Disposable tableware is a prominent waste material in many restaurants and business break rooms. Polystyrene (i.e. Styrofoam) cups, plates, and to-go containers, as well as plastic utensils, are rarely recyclable. Replace them with reusable kitchenware and reduce unnecessary waste material.
Disposable and Non-recyclable Items to Eliminate
- Disposable cups, plates, utensils (use durable goods or provide compostable ware if you have compost collection and do not have a dishwasher)
- Individual sugar packets/creamers (switch to bulk)
- Individual ketchup/mustard packets (switch to bulk)
- Plastic water bottles (provide reusable bottles)
Non-recyclable materials can include items such as packing peanuts, polystyrene molds, bubble wrap, potato chip bags, milk cartons, drink pouches, and more. Talk to your waste partner and procurement team to determine the best alternatives to materials used in your business.
Finally, look to buying in bulk…
Individually packaged goods
Replacing individually packaged goods with refillable dispensers reduces packaging waste. Examples include replacing individual coffee pods with a pot of coffee, plastic water bottles with a filtered water tap, individual creamers, and sugars with dispensers. Again, talk to your waste partner and procurement team to decide what’s right for your business.
Once you have eliminated these and other commonly avoidable waste products, you will be ready to move on to Step 5 of the RUBICONMethod.
For the complete step-by-step guide on implementing a successful waste and recycling program, click here.