Waste management is an essential environmental component of business operations. Companies have started working on their waste management under the vision of ESG (Environmental Social and Governance). To achieve your ESG vision, you need measurable goals, insightful and well-structured reporting, and, most importantly, accurate and transparent data. Through our two years of transforming the waste management systems and behavior for our client companies, we have identified some common pain points that all companies can learn from.
2020 was particularly a year of tremendous challenges, but even in this difficult situation, our team at GEPP was working side by side with companies to improve their reporting and driving better results.
Despite this year’s challenges, 55% of our clients have been able to keep their recycling rate over the benchmark of 35%. And the biggest change we found is a company that has improved its recycling rate from 11% to 58% within less than a year. This is clear evidence that managing waste toward zero landfills is possible — you just need the commitment to take action!
This type of change can seem daunting, but we have learned that you just need to break down the process into three clear stages — Start, Maintain, and Report.
Start: When you are getting started on improving your waste management operations, you’re likely to encounter three key problems:
1. Lack of knowledge in waste segregation. Many companies tend spend a lot of time on deciding how bins should look like instead of how best our staff can sort waste.
2. Challenges in finding the right collector or service provider. Once your waste has been sorted, you may find it hard to find a reliable collector or you may need more than one collector to satisfy all your special collection needs.
3. Limited resources: Companies have many ESG goals that they have to accomplish in one year with so many projects at hand, but their sustainability teams are often understaffed or under resourced.
Maintain: Once your project has gotten started, you need to do even more to maintain the momentum to achieve your final goals:
1. Setting targets and delivering. As companies start to take waste management seriously and want to set up their measurable targets, they often lack information and make it hard to set clear commitments about the numbers they will be able or should achieve.
2. Communication. Most companies fail to communicate regularly enough (usually by the start and end of the campaign), may not communicate directly to the right audience, or don’t know what data they should use.
3. Crisis situations. COVID-19 has inevitably impacted all businesses, as well as all stakeholders in the recycling chain. Some collectors stopped their business because of the crisis, which in turn interrupts offices’ ability to sort waste and recycle their waste without this essential service.
Report. Trust building is such a fundamental driver in engaging all stakeholders. Oftentimes, companies tell the “too good to be true” results that bring more questions than appreciation.
1. Data tracking. Companies are often overwhelmed by the amount of waste management data they need to track, especially when faced a shortage of resources and only manual tools for tracking. Discipline can do so much without the right tool and automation.
2. Target setting. Most companies don’t know which data to use to set relevant targets that truly measure environmental impact that make a difference for their businesses.
From our engagements, we have identified that the most essential factor that comes across in the three stages is your ability to manage your waste data and in a way that it can serve the different purposes as your project progresses. Reliable and auditable data set gives insight and shapes up the right purposes of your transformation program. It begs the right questions while gives the right answers towards sustainability.
GEPP Sa-Ard is the owner of GEPP waste segregation standards and GEPP IoT-based waste data management platform that help companies achieve real results and impact in their efforts to reduce waste. Please feel free to contact us for product inquiries at [email protected].
Dome is the Co-founder and CMO of GEPP. He is passionate about building a better world through better waste management thinking method. He is specialized and experienced in implementing waste management goals, infrastructure change advisory for better waste management.