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In 2022, businesses in all sectors are expected to contribute toward building a sustainable future, and vital to this are the approaches we take to make our waste work for the planet. Of the waste produced each year in the UK, over half still goes to landfill sites. Waste disposal methods like landfill are a huge issue for the environment, contributing to greenhouse gas generation and the leaching of toxins into our water supplies.
To avoid these consequences, we should prioritise sustainable waste management instead. This involves processing and making use of our waste products prior to disposal. This way, we can minimise the volume disposed of by methods that cause unnecessary environmental damage. Cost-effective environmental initiatives can be a challenge for any business, but thankfully there are solutions to process and manage waste sustainably.
The waste management hierarchy
There are various approaches to guide businesses in sustainable waste management, but the waste management hierarchy is particularly comprehensive. This tool suggests a series of steps that we can follow to efficiently manage our waste, outlined below.
The journey to sustainability begins before a product is even made. Firstly, we should aim to rethink our practices and reduce the amount of waste created in the first instance by avoiding consumption where possible. For example, many companies encourage reusable cups and containers, offering discounts for bringing your own.
Reuse and recycle
Where waste is still produced, businesses may endeavour to reuse and recycle these byproducts. McDonald’s recently made headlines with the announcement that it would employ a ‘circular solution’ in oil use, by treating used cooking oil for use as biodiesel fuel. This fuel will go toward powering its vehicles, used for goods transportation and distribution. Initiatives like these can cut waste and emissions alike, and help to gain public favour as consumers continue to go green in their purchasing habits.
Intelligent technologies can also separate usable materials out from waste, allowing recyclables to go on and be used for other products. This is what happens at our solar-powered Lea Riverside facility.
For waste products that can’t be reused or recycled, energy recovery aims to release the usable energy bound up in materials. Techniques such as the combustion of Municipal Solid Waste are not ideal, as burning may release further pollutants, but these can generate usable power. This means that fossil fuel consumption can be reduced, as well as the amount of waste going to landfill.
Finally, any residual products that remain can be treated and prepared for the safest possible disposal by landfill, as a last resort in managing waste output.
Why is sustainable waste management so important?
Old-school waste management by incineration and landfill contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and declines in air and water quality. UK industries are responsible for in excess of 500 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year, thought to significantly contribute to global warming.
As a result, the UK government has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 78% by the year 2035 to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change on the natural world. Through similar sustainability policies, neighbouring European countries like Norway have reduced emissions and preserved their stunning natural landscapes, keeping fjords and oceans clean of litter. The UK can follow in these footsteps if all businesses do their part to sustainably manage their waste.
What is bywaters doing to manage waste sustainably?
Bywaters offers a variety of sustainable waste management solutions to suit client needs nationwide, for sectors including construction, hospitality and healthcare. We pride ourselves on prioritising reuse, recycling and recovery — steering clear of the bottom rung of the waste management hierarchy, and sending zero waste direct to landfill.
Want to check if your operations adhere to the waste management hierarchy? Our team of Green Gurus serve as our in-house sustainability experts, available to audit your business’s operations for optimal economic and environmental payoff.
Whatever your business, get a quote for your sustainable waste management needs here.