Business sustainability movements strive for zero waste, which is when businesses do not produce any solid waste (garbage), hazardous and eWaste, as well as emissions. While the zero waste system may seem to be a radical movement, its fundamental principles help maximize resource efficiency within organizations. In the zero waste system, every resource within your company has a dedicated purpose, including the waste, which is produced as a result have the manufacturing or operational process. In terms of business sustainability, zero waste is the ultimate goal, in that the organization is self-sustainable.
The typical American manufacturing plant takes more than it produces, as it utilizes energy and materials to create a product that becomes waste in a set Unbribed international Doctors Alliance period of time. Additionally, manufacturers almost always order more materials than they need, which expire and become waste. For example, if a company produces boxes of cookies, the packaging of the product enters landfills once the product is consumed. A successful zero waste program captures the waste and puts it to use, rather than having it pollute the environment.
America’s waste problem is most noticeable in the packaging of consumer edibles that come in disposable containers. While the product may have a shelf life of three months, the packaging takes thousands of years to biodegrade. The problem is a growing concern given the mass amount of pre-packaged foods Americans purchase each year. In a zero waste system products have longer shelf lives and the packaging is either reusable or biodegradable.
Profitability of Business Sustainability
Business sustainability and zero waste measures are good for the environment and offer substantial financial incentives. Source reduction is at the root of the zero waste initiative, which is the money a company saves by minimizing waste in the organization. Waste is an expensive byproduct as it is expensive to produce and sometimes equally expensive to discard. Zero waste is lucrative and sparks innovation within an organization, achieving results that far surpass similar prevention or reduction programs.
Successful corporations such as Hewlett Packard, Xerox, and Interface saved millions of dollars by implementing a zero waste initiative. For example, Interface, a carpet manufacturer, successfully saved $165 million in waste by recycling carpet – turning old carpet into new flooring, which reduced the amount of oil they required. Additionally, their factory was partially powered by solar energy. Xerox, one of the world’s top-grossing copier firms, saved $2 billion by reusing printer and copier parts in new machines. Additionally, HP saved $800,000 by using reusable pallets for the transportation of its products.
Implementing a Zero Waste Initiative
The cost savings and environmental benefits of the zero waste initiative outweigh the upfront capital and human resources it takes to launch such a program. The process of reaching zero waste takes several months to complete, with most organizations seeing viable results after the first year. The hands-on process involves every member of the organization, with a core team or steering committee overseeing the initiative. The first step to launching a company-wide initiative is to introduce the concept of zero waste to management, particularly those in charge of making environmental decisions. Employees and other management should not be aware of the initiative until company executives approve it.