In recent years, organizations looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact have turned their focus to facility waste management.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), commercial and industrial facilities generate about 7.6 million tons of waste yearly. Managing all that waste efficiently and cost effectively can be a challenge. As such, facility managers must find ways to reduce the waste their buildings produce. Fortunately, there are many things they can do to achieve this goal.
This article suggests three key steps: conducting regular waste audits, analyzing your facility’s existing approach to waste management, and working to reduce the level of waste that goes to
Understanding waste and facility management
The way an organization handles its waste is closely related to the overall effectiveness of its facility management. Good waste management practices can help a facility save money, reduce its environmental impact, and improve its image.
The first step in effective waste management is understanding the waste types generated at a facility. Waste can be classified as either solid or liquid, and each kind of waste presents unique
- Solid waste: According to the EPA, solid waste is any garbage, refuse, or other discarded material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations. This
waste can harm the environment if it’s not managed correctly, so facilities need to have a plan for properly disposing of it.
- Liquid waste: Industrial and municipal facilities generate large amounts of liquid waste, including sewage, stormwater runoff, and processed wastewater. Liquid waste can contain harmful pollutants that could contaminate water supplies and harm the environment.
Once a facility understands the predominant waste types it generates, the next step is to develop a plan for managing that waste. Facility managers can follow five tips to reduce waste and improve
their facilities’ environmental performance.
1. Conduct regular waste audits
By identifying the areas where your facility produces the most waste, you can focus on finding solutions. Start with finding and addressing the root causes of your facility’s waste. Even simple
changes, like using more recycled materials, can make a big difference.
Regular audits will help you keep track of your progress and ensure that your efforts have a positive impact. Many facilities find that conducting waste audits is one of the most effective ways to reduce environmental impact.
2. Analyze your current approach
To analyze your current approach to waste management, consider the following:
- The type and amount of waste produced
- The source of the waste
- Environmental and financial costs of managing the waste
- The potential solutions for reducing waste.
With these in mind, facility managers can develop a waste management plan tailored to their facilities. Let’s say you want to reduce the amount of paper waste your facility produces. You can do this by switching to digital documentation and communication. The change would require an initial financial investment, but it would save money in the long run.
3. Implement a waste-reduction plan
After conducting an audit and analyzing your current approach to waste management, implement a plan to reduce waste. This plan should include specific goals and objectives as well as strategies for achieving those goals.
As previously mentioned, switching to digital documentation and communication could be one solution. Other solutions might include:
- Recycling: Setting up a recycling program for paper, plastic, and other materials
- Composting: Implementing a composting program for food waste
- Reusing: Finding ways to reuse materials instead of throwing them away.
These are just a few examples; there are many other ways to reduce waste. The important thing is to find solutions that work for your facility.
4. Educate your employees
Educating your employees on the importance of waste reduction is essential to the success of your plan. Employees should be aware of the goals, objectives, and strategies used to achieve the plan.
Make sure to ask employees for their input on the plan. This will help ensure that everyone is on board and increase the chances of successful implementation. When employees are invested, they are more likely to make an extra effort to reduce waste.
Suppose you plan to reduce waste using a technical solution. In that case, train your employees about the latest technology and how it can help reduce waste. Encourage them to attend workshops and seminars on waste reduction.
5. Monitor your progress
Monitoring your progress is essential to ensure that your waste reduction plan works. Track the amount of waste produced and the costs associated with managing that waste. Periodically conduct waste audits to follow your progress and stay on schedule with your objectives.
If you are not making progress, it’s crucial to identify why and make appropriate revisions to your plan. Sometimes, changes in technology or processes can help you achieve your goals, while other times, they might stimulate the need to make adjustments.
For example, if you cannot reduce the amount of waste produced, you may need to increase your recycling or composting efforts. Overall, monitoring your progress and updating your facility management strategy is essential to the success of your waste reduction plan.
Reap the benefits of your efforts
Reducing waste can seem daunting, but it is achievable. You can see accurate results by auditing your facility’s waste production, implementing a waste reduction plan, and educating your employees on the importance of reducing waste. And don’t forget to monitor your progress—this is essential to ensure an effective waste management plan.