This is the last in a six-step series of posts diving in-depth into the RUBICONMethod, a proven system for building a successful waste and recycling program within any business, large or small. Over the past six weeks, readers have successfully worked through Step 1: Determine, Step 2: Initiate, Step 3: Vocalize, Step 4: Eliminate and Step 5: Roll-Out. The sixth, and final, step addresses how to track and report on the progress of your new program, as well as how to make continuous improvements.
If you’re just now tuning in, take a look back at earlier posts in the series, or simply download the full guide to work through each step in more detail and access the checklists and worksheets provided.
For those of you who are ready to start tracking, let’s dig in.
Step 6: Track
Whether your waste reduction plan is designed to save money, divert more waste from landfills, or achieve an ambitious zero waste goal, it’s important to track and report progress regularly. Data helps to engage and retain the support of stakeholders while allowing for continuous improvement.
Let’s get started…
Recycling rates and contamination
If the objective of your plan is to divert waste from landfills (and recycle more), you’ll likely see early signs of success as the most obvious solutions are implemented. But proving success can often be harder than achieving it.
*Quick Tip: New waste plans often see the greatest results in the first 6 months to a year of implementation.
Fortunately, certain waste partners offer verified sustainability reporting platforms that track detailed waste data from source to disposal site, allowing you to see exactly how much waste your business is producing (by location) and where it is going. Some platforms even provide real-time diversion and carbon data, as well as customizable reporting dashboards. Check with your waste partner to ensure the appropriate data and reporting systems are set up for tracking the success of your waste reduction program.
Next, every plan has room for continuous improvement…
Ongoing program adjustments
No new plan is perfect, and breakdowns that result in the contamination of waste streams will occur. Identifying such weaknesses is not a mark of failure, but rather an important step in continuous improvement.
Understanding and Identifying Contamination
Contamination occurs when materials are put in the wrong bins, thereby degrading the contents and rendering them non-recyclable. To understand where the breakdown may be occurring, it’s important to conduct regular waste characterizations, assessments and audits with help from your waste partner. These detailed reports can help you set baseline diversion numbers, identify weaknesses, and evolve your plan going forward.
Updating Services to Match Your Evolving Business
You may find that other changes at your site require adjustments to your waste and recycling services. Perhaps you add a significant number of new employees, add compost service, or make upstream adjustments that reduce your waste – all of these changes may require you to adapt your service and frequency. Making these adjustments over time ensure that you are receiving the right kind of service and can sometimes create cost savings. Ask your waste partner about new technology that uses artificial intelligence to run fast, efficient virtual waste assessments.
Sustainability goals and reporting
While some businesses simply aim to recycle more, other businesses choose to set defined sustainability goals. Programs such as the TRUE Zero Waste Certification system are designed to help businesses and facilities of all types define, pursue and achieve their zero waste goals.
When a business sends less than 10% of its MSW stream to landfills or incinerators (also considered a 90% diversion rate), it has achieved zero waste.
*Did You Know? Zero waste is achieved by sending 10% or less of MSW streams to landfills or incinerators.
Whether or not you are ready to declare a zero-waste goal, consider the other partners and certifications listed below, or set your own clear targets.
Your waste partner or third-party sustainability partner can help you determine how to structure goals that make sense for your business and define what success means for your organization.
From examination and planning to communicating and eliminating, and finally, to roll-out and reporting, the RUBICONMethod offers a comprehensive, step-by-step system for implementing a successful recycling and waste reduction program. Thanks for tuning in, and congratulations on working through a new program framework that works for your business.
For the complete step-by-step guide to implementing a successful waste and recycling program, click here.