Did you know that the US produces about 292.4 million pounds of municipal waste annually? This means that every person disposes of about 4.9 pounds of garbage daily.
Managing waste through recycling and reusing can reduce the amount going into landfills. It also supports sustainability and preserves nonrenewable resources for future generations.
Creating a sustainable waste stream is an ideal way to reduce waste. Still, this process is tricky since many people don’t know how to develop one.
Here is the ultimate guide on building a sustainable waste stream via a circular economy.
The History of Sustainable Waste Streams
Before learning how to create a circular economy, you should understand who started the zero-waste movement. It’s also vital to know how the practice evolved over the years.
The zero-waste movement is one of the most popular reuse and recycling concepts. Since the idea resulted from ancient practices, it’s hard to trace its origin to specific people or organizations. Still, some critical contributors like Daniel Knapp boosted awareness and spearheaded such campaigns.
Starting a Zero-Waste Strategy
The first step to building a sustainable waste stream is basing it on a zero-waste strategy. Design practices for managing garbage while considering specific aspects. Such include:
- Hazard level
- Treatment methods
- Recycling possibilities
- Recovery potential
As you create a waste strategy, ensure it follows a sustainable hierarchy. This aspect means you should focus more on preventing waste using various methods.
For example, cut the volume of raw materials used when creating products. On the other hand, encourage people to reuse items if you run a business or apartment complex.
Another tip for avoiding wastage when creating a zero-waste strategy is using less hazardous materials. If possible, opt for products that will produce less pollution. Besides, use raw materials that aren’t toxic when recycled or reused.
Once you create measures to lower waste, find ways to manage it. This process will include various steps based on the materials you handle. For example, you must check your systems if you run a manufacturing company.
This measure will help identify systems that generate significant waste. You may then fix them to improve sustainability. Alternatively, identify recycling methods that will create a circular economy.
Some options to consider are:
- Incinerators with energy recovery
- Anaerobic waste digestion
After identifying ways to manage waste, select the most sustainable ones. This process will involve evaluating each option based on the hierarchy.
The best waste management method should be the most suitable for the environment. If none of the options meet this criterion, go with the process that significantly lessens the waste volume going into landfills.
Creating a Sustainable Waste Stream
Developing sustainable waste streams ensures materials are in use for the longest period. It also lowers pollution and the use of raw substances.
The primary pillar of a sustainable waste stream is a zero-waste concept. The idea revolves around ensuring people change their lifestyles. It also includes creating awareness to improve the use of sustainable natural cycles.
Revising manufacturing processes is one way to create a sustainable stream using a circular economy. Hence, companies should assess their practices for various reasons. The first is to ensure that the highest percentage of end products are usable and recyclable. The other is verifying the items have the lowest level of toxify possible.
Another vital step in creating a circular economy is understanding waste production. Check your company to identify the key sources of waste. After that, determine how employees treat it after disposal. This measure will help you identify reuse and recycle opportunities.
Other benefits of understanding and reviewing waste production are:
- You can save time and resources
- It may reduce your utility bills
- Your team can adopt sustainable waste management methods
- The process allows you to shift to efficient waste management methods
Educating employees will simplify building a sustainable waste stream. Ensure your team understands the effects of high garbage production.
Likewise, sensitize them on alternative sustainable practices. For example, you can advise using reusable water bottles instead of disposable ones. Besides, encourage the use of travel mugs to lower waste.
While educating employees on handling personal garbage is vital, ensure they also recognize the company’s waste reduction goals. Appoint a team to inform employees and guarantee they abide by the firm’s policies. Such may pertain to:
- Reducing water waste
- Avoiding the use of excess packaging material
- Using paperless systems
- Tracking waste production
Tips for Building a Sustainable Waste Stream
Using sustainable waste management methods can help you contribute to a circular economy. Further, it presents revenue opportunities and allows you to lower operating costs.
While the zero-waste movement can guide you when creating a waste stream, you must leverage other methods. For example, reward and recognize employees that abide by various policies. Such may include reducing electricity waste by turning off air conditioners when not in use.
Acknowledging employees that help the firm achieve a sustainable waste stream has many benefits. First, it encourages them to continue following these practices. Further, it can promote waste management policy adoption and simplify supervision.
Waste management practices change as new technologies emerge. Embrace a circular economy business model by reviewing your processes regularly. Likewise, follow up on waste management trends to identify efficient ways. It’s also crucial to use energy-star-rated equipment for improved sustainability.
More tips for building a sustainable waste stream are:
- Donate the items you rarely use
- Conduct regular waste audits
- Provide employees with utensils to reduce plastic usage
- Compost food waste
Recycling waste can be tricky if you don’t provide the necessary resources. Ensure that your company has separate bins for each waste category. After that, label the containers accurately to prevent confusion.
It’s also advisable to place educational posters near the waste area. This measure will prevent contaminating recyclable materials with toxins. Ultimately, it boosts the volume of reusable materials circulating in your waste stream.
Create the Most Sustainable Waste Stream in Your Company
Building a sustainable waste stream can be confusing if you don’t know where to start. Learning about the zero-waste movement and its primary concept can provide reliable guidance. It also allows you to identify the best practices and the systems to revise for improved efficiency.