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Waste Minimization: 5 Source Reduction Tactics


Waste minimization is a buzzword in the EH&S community. Industry media is alight with supporters chattering over best waste minimization practices. Experts tout diversion and recycling. What about minimizing waste before you get to that point? What about cutting waste down at the source?

The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment estimates that the appropriate technology and adequate economic conditions already exist to reduce solid waste generation by 50 percent in the next few years.  Doing this would benefit the environment as well as your company. 

By taking part in source reduction, you’re directly saving your company money by avoiding waste collection transportation and disposal costs and decreasing your costs through decreased pollution control, liability and regulatory compliance costs. So how do you do it? Here are five tactics you can use to reduce waste at the source.

Measure It

Measuring source reduction and impact is absolutely necessary. Without analyzing where your waste streams need to be reduced, there’s no way of knowing what actions and tactics will be essential to your business’s success. Once you’ve measured your waste streams, tracked the source, and determined where your best bet for your ROI is, you can start to implement a program.

The EPA has developed calculators to help you determine the success of your minimization program once it's in place.  You can find these calculators here. 

Pay Attention to Packaging

Over-packaging or using disposable packaging can increase the total waste produced by your company. An easy way to fix this is to simply pay attention. Ask yourself if items you’re purchasing need packaging at all. When buying containers for hazmat shipping and disposal of hazardous waste, consider buying those that are reusable and recyclable. In addition to reducing your waste, this tactic will help you cut costs on packaging.

Selective Purchasing

The EPA suggests that you purchase products that are durable, reusable and repairable. Top tips for selective purchasing with the intention of source reduction is buying in bulk and avoiding buying single-use products. 

When selecting an item, consider the solid waste and toxicity produced from that item. Where you can, select less toxic options. Consider how the product itself will ultimately be disposed of. By seeking to minimize the waste a product creates before the purchase rather than after the waste is created, you’re not only reducing waste but saving time in the waste removal and minimization process post generation.

Policy Changes

Another way to reduce waste at the source is to reduce the need for waste generating products. A way to do this is by changing policies at your organization to ensure all products are getting optimal use. An example would be to encourage all paper printing be double sided and all mail sent electronically.

Make Your Equipment Better

Some of your waste isn’t generated because of what you’re purchasing; it’s generating because of the type of equipment you have. Even if the materials you’re buying are done with source reduction in mind, there’s no way you’re going to have the best results if your equipment is old, inefficient, and generates twice as much waste as necessary.

When you know a machine is being inefficient and generating waste, it’s time to assess the savings a new machine would give you in the long run. Once this ROI is determined, decide whether it would be most beneficial to retire a machine early or design the equipment for minimal waste generation. Whichever solution is best for your company, it will be beneficial to your source reduction and waste minimization plan.

 Want more information with your triple bottom line? Come to our upcoming webinar on waste minimization view the agenda in the link below.


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Or check out our case study examples on how we can help you reduce your waste.


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