A look at the zero waste to landfill initiative and how it can help reduce environmental impact.
These days, there’s a lot of incentive for businesses to operate in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. It really is a win-win: your business stays aligned with changing regulations, your reputation is strengthened, and your bottom line is improved.
For any company interested in long-term success, the motivation is there in spades. That said, setting unrealistic sustainability goals can lead to missed targets, decreased morale and diminishing efforts.
With terms like “zero waste” flitting around the sustainability discussion, it can sometimes feel like companies are up against unachievable benchmarks. This is why we at Antea Group feel it’s important to highlight concepts like “zero waste to landfill,” also known as “landfill-free”.
What is Zero Waste to Landfill?
Whereas “zero waste” is more useful as a philosophy than as a realistic goal, “zero waste to landfill” (“landfill-free”) is a relatively established initiative that signifies a business diverting 99 percent of its generated waste away from landfills. This means that all produced waste is either reused, recycled, composted, or converted to energy.
While there’s currently no official certifying body or regulatory driver for zero waste to landfill, the 99 percent metric associated with it gives companies an achievable, verifiable goal to work towards.
Why Is Landfill-Free a Worthy Goal?
In short, it’s one practical step towards the idea of a circular economy.
Financially speaking, using resources more efficiently and setting up systems to get more out of your materials naturally leads to cost savings. Consider also the fact that landfills are getting more expensive. As long as we are Earth-bound, land is a finite resource -- and the cost of dumping waste is expected to continue to grow as landfills continue to fill. This rising price of disposal is just one of the reasons why businesses today are acting on altering their waste outcomes.
There’s also the simple fact that the public demands companies be held accountable for pollutive practices, now more than ever. The lack of regulatory pressure centered around zero waste to landfill can actually be an opportunity for proactive action. It’s an impactful move: Your company may not legally *need* to divert 99 percent of its waste from landfills, but there are beneficial optics to doing it anyway. In the case that regulatory tides do shift toward tighter controls on waste disposal, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
How Can Zero Waste to Landfill Be Achieved?
Success here really begins with understanding the definition of “waste.” Waste is actually a pretty hard concept to pin down in terms of the legal definition -- the UK government even offers a 70-page guideline on how to do it. Broadly speaking, it’s any substance your company intends to discard.
This is important to consider because achieving zero waste to landfill requires getting familiar with your data, by whittling down the broad concept of “waste” into something granular and quantifiable. This goal should certainly be considered achievable, but it starts with a comprehensive understanding of what you’re dealing with. That means getting a big-picture view of your different waste types, treatment methods and output rates. From here, there are a number of context-dependent strategies that companies can use to make sure their waste doesn’t just take up space.
There’s no one single way to solve the puzzle- but take note that not all alternate waste disposal methods are considered to be in alignment with the landfill-free initiative. Incineration is controversially included in this discussion, with critics citing its expensive cost and abundant release of emissions as reason enough to exclude it from consideration.
Are You Ready to Take a Step Toward Being Landfill-Free?
Antea Group has decades of experience in helping companies achieve sustainability goals, and we use that experience toward leveraging every possible efficiency in a company’s unique scenario. We work with TRUE Zero Waste to complement our strategies with a holistic, whole-systems approach that can effectively modernize the way your facilities work, turning waste into additional income streams while significantly cutting down your eco-footprint. There are other zero waste to landfill certifications out there as well, including Green Circle Certified, NSF International, Underwriters Laboratory (UL), and the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC).
Reach out to us if you want to learn more about the practical roadmap for bringing your organization to a state of zero waste to landfill.
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