Edward Pigg, Managing Director of Axil Integrated Services, explores how businesses can support their bottom line and sustainability goals.
It’s no secret that the cost of living is having an unprecedented impact on business margins. In fact, Barclays revealed recently that three quarters (75%) of small and medium businesses are worried about the impact of rising bills and inflation on their ability to do business.
Meanwhile, our research has found that sustainability remains high on the agenda, with 98% of businesses surveyed saying they are actively looking at ways to reduce their scope one, two and three emissions.
The challenge, then, is continuing to make progress on sustainability goals whilst still supporting your bottom line.
From realising the economic benefit of your own waste materials to the impact of even the smallest (and less glamorous) innovations such as continuous bin liners, there are several ways businesses can marry sustainability and efficiency.
So, what five key steps can businesses take to both support their bottom line and ensure they are maintaining momentum on crucial sustainability ambitions in such a turbulent economic period?
1. Audit your waste
Knowledge is power and gaining a greater understanding of your business waste streams can help reduce costs and increase recycling rates.
Working with experts to analyse your waste streams and understand how waste is collected and moved throughout your facilities is an important step to saving both time and money in the long-term.
Undertaking a waste review will help businesses identify opportunities to improve processes and drive out costs, as well as highlight any potential compliance issues which could prove costly if left unchecked.
2. Make the most of rebates
Consider whether there is any value in your waste. Recycling isn’t just a more palatable way of disposing of waste – your materials should be seen and treated as a vital and valuable resource.
Many businesses overlook the opportunities for their waste to support the circular economy through reuse and recycling, and don’t consider the financial rebates available to them.
In fact, research has revealed that less than half of UK companies receive rebates for their waste, and a quarter (25%) of those that do don’t think they are getting the best value for their materials.
Through rebates, organisations can reduce waste management costs by generating value through their recycled materials. Not only does this help businesses with their bottom line, but it also further incentivises companies to get a handle on their recycling. For example, Whirlpool recently saw a £200k increase in rebates generated through waste.
3. Embrace the 3 ‘Rs’
We’ve all heard of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, but when it comes to applying it to your business practices, there is always more that can be done. The 3 Rs are there to help you understand where recovery methods can be built into your processes, making waste disposal a last resort.
The culture around waste is crucial within a business. Encouraging employees to reduce consumption of single use plastics where possible and introducing products such as re-usable coffee cups and stainless-steel water bottles on sites has helped to remove 158,000 single-use coffee cups and 56,000 plastic bottles from Whirlpool’s canteens.
4. Focus on small innovations
Don’t overlook the smaller, less glamorous innovations!
Simple solutions, such as using continuous bin liners that take less time to fit, can really help with time efficiency, productivity, and waste reduction. Such innovations produce less plastic waste than a normal bin bag and have helped Whirlpool reduce plastic use by 80%.
Improved segregation of materials can also help you get the most out of your rebates, which can be supported by small steps like introducing colour-coded bins and additional signage.
Separating recyclables from general waste is the first key step before separating waste streams further to maximise value – copper and aluminium is worth far more than mixed steel. In fact, LEVC has seen a 212% increase in metal rebates through improved segregation.
5. Reduce transport costs
Reducing the transport movements of your waste simultaneously improves your carbon footprint and your bottom line. Using local services where possible can significantly reduce a company’s carbon footprint, fuel costs, and directly support the local economy.
For example, Birmingham Wholesale Market installed an on-site general waste compactor to reduce transport movements and costs – reducing the number of collections by 60%, whilst Birds Eye saved £24,000 in transport costs by introducing on-site baling equipment, for compressing a range of waste materials.