Zero Waste Benefits For Businesses

Zero Waste Benefits: Why It Is Crucial For Businesses

Waste is an alarming and expensive global problem, but there are solutions. The UNEP’s latest Global Waste Management Outlook 2024 spells it out.

  • Municipal solid waste generation is predicted to grow from 2.3 billion tonnes in 2023 to 3.8 billion tonnes in 2050, with annual cost of global waste management potentially doubling to USD 640.3 billion.
  • However, getting waste under control by taking waste prevention and management measures could LIMIT net annual costs by 2050 to USD 270.2 billion. And adopting a circular economy model could lead to a full net GAIN of USD 108.5 billion per year.

In this landscape, the pressure on countries and cities to reduce waste will bear down every business that operates around the world. Going Zero Waste is the key long-term strategy for businesses that want to remain competitive globally. It brings multiple benefits that are crucial and impactful. Take a look.

Zero Waste Business Benefits

1) Manage Rising Waste Costs 

Along with inflation, rising labor and materials costs, regulations, and other factors, the cost of waste removal is expected to keep rising.  

While the U.S. is not running out of landfills yet, some states are reaching capacity. For example, according to the BioCycle report “The State of Garbage in America,” Arkansas reportedly has enough capacity to last 600 years, while New York only has 25 years left. While more landfills can be created, the reality is that landfill tipping fees will be going up too. In 2023, there was a 6% rise in landfill tipping fees across the US. Waste is big business.

NYC businesses may also see upward pressure on prices due to a confluence of factors as the Commercial Waste Zones program rolls out in 2024, including:

  • Less competition due to only 3 haulers operating in each zone
  • Increased costs associated with the mandatory containerization of waste for all business through New York City
  • The expected implementation of congestion pricing in the Spring of 2024
  • In addition, NYC waste haulers are also asking for a 9% commercial rate cap increase.

Implementing Zero Waste strategies will not just work to lower waste and costs associated with waste removal, but it will also set in motion a fundamental shift in the way the business views waste, which will impact waste reduction at every level of the company, all along the supply chain. Better resource efficiency, means less waste generation, leading to potentially lower procurement and operational costs. A Zero Waste company culture will also influence employees, whose actions contribute to the success, or failure, of every business initiative.

2) Recover Loss Value

Waste = Loss Value.  Going Zero Waste will help businesses rescue the value in what they are landfilling. Materials have value and converting waste to income can help offset waste costs.

For example, cardboard can make up 50% of a retailer’s waste stream. If diverted from the landfill, cardboard can be sold as a commodity, and that can potentially lead to reduced waste costs for the business. Needless to say, the less you throw out, the less you pay for waste removal.

“The World Bank estimated that the world produced 3.5 million tons of solid waste per day in 2010, and that amount is projected to double by 2025. That’s not simply a lot of trash, it’s a lot of lost value – as much as $2.6 trillion annually in raw materials and residual worth. Landfill waste is a double loss: wasted product, and wasted natural resources to produce the product in the first place. The world can’t afford to use up water, forests, food, minerals, fossil fuels or any natural resource in this way.”Toward A Zero Waste Future, Walmart Sustainability Report.

3) Get Ahead Of The Competition

As more companies begin to realize the benefits of going Zero Waste, those that don’t will be left behind.

They will lose the value of what they are landfilling, pay higher costs in waste removal, incur a bigger carbon footprint, and suffer in their corporate social responsibility reputation as well as employee/customer goodwill. In the long term, they will slip behind in operational efficiency and become less competitive.

For companies and cities alike, Zero Waste is the future of waste management.

4) Lower Environmental Impact

Landfills release methane and carbon dioxide from the decomposition of organic materials, contributing to climate change. Less waste means less harmful carbon emissions. But even before trash reaches the landfill, damage is already being done.

“Thirty years ago, a bag of garbage dropped down a chute in Manhattan would have traveled just a few miles by barge to the aptly named Fresh Kills facility on Staten Island. (Until 1931, the city dumped most of its trash in the Atlantic Ocean.) Today, it would likely make an overland journey to Ohio, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia. One ton of garbage traveling 500 miles by train from New York to the Mountain State would generate 115 pounds of carbon dioxide. If New York City shipped all of its trash to West Virginia the commute would produce 760,000 tons of CO2 each year.”Go West, Garbage Can!, Slate.

Similarly, even recycling has environmental costs, incurred from transportation and processing.

In the drive to use less,  Zero Waste strategies directly contribute to resource conservation. Less materials used mean less resources need to be extracted, transported and processed, and then disposed of.

Start Reaping Zero Waste Benefits Today

Remember, it all starts with the decision to move TOWARDS Zero Waste as a goal. And the first step of that plan is to do a waste audit to understand what you are throwing away.

Want to start moving towards Zero Waste? It’s simple. Here’s how to move towards Zero Waste in 3 steps. Have more questions? Ask your Great Forest representative for help to get your started.

Learn more:

Zero Waste Toolkit for Businesses

What is Zero Waste? Myths and Meaning

Going Zero Waste – How Small Steps Add Up At The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco


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