4 Planet and cost-saving tips for sustainable small businesses
National Composting Awareness Week 2 – 8 May
As little as a decade ago, many business owners would have dismissed the idea of zero waste practices and workplace composting as idealistic and put it in the ‘too-hard’ basket. Now, in 2021, we are all too aware of the devastating impact of unnecessary organic waste ending up in landfill.
Future-focused businesses with a target for sustainability are looking to drastically decrease their waste across all areas. By diverting compostable materials away from landfill, business owners can help reduce the organic waste they generate, simply by implementing better processes and educating their team on eco-aware practices.
Try some of the following tips to move your workplace towards zero waste.
1 . Reduce non-compostable resources
Prevention is better than cure, and an essential first step in the composting process is to reduce the amount of non-compostable resources your workplace consumes. This may include:
- Reusing or recycling office packaging materials.
- Using reusable water bottles, food containers and keep-cups.
- Transitioning to a paperless or paper-lite workplace.
2. Educate about compostable items
Did you know you can compost Post-It Notes? Educating and supporting your workforce in compostable practices will help reduce organic waste.
A few of the most common compostables found in workplaces are:
- Coffee grounds and loose tea leaves (tea bags are slower to break down)
- Fruit and vegetable scraps from lunches and catering
- Shredded kitchen and toilet roll cardboard
- Unwaxed food delivery and pizza boxes
- Used paper napkins and paper towels
- Shredded paper, receipts and anything on non-glossy paper
- Envelopes (with any plastic windows removed)
- Leaves, flowers and soil from office plants and floral arrangements
3. Use compostable bags to line organic waste bins
Using a compostable bag to collect organic waste items makes it easier and cleaner for all involved. BWC bin liners are certified compostable and will break down naturally in your office composting solution.
4. Start a composting practice
Five key factors to consider when starting to implement a composting practice are:
- Education: Gain employee buy-in through training on best practice, what can and cannot be composted and the benefits of composting.
- Signage: Email and place lists of compostables above the bins in your office.
- Location: Locate bins where the majority of organic matter is handled, such as the kitchen.
- Accountability: Consider appointing a Green Team to take responsibility for the program.
Tracking: Reflecting upon successes and improving processes maintains motivation.
There are two approaches to managing the organic waste created by your business. The best option will be determined by your workplace location, space and environment.
Organic Waste Collection
The availability of this option depends greatly on where your business is located, but as many councils are keen to support diverting organic waste away from landfill, the number of local councils offering commercial organic waste collection is slowly increasing. It is worth contacting your local council to see if this option is currently available in your area. This council service allows for a broader range of organic materials than if you are composting on a small scale in your own workplace. If your company is in a shared building it is usually cost and time-effective to combine organic waste bins and organise a shared pick-up.
If you are in the enviable position of having a garden in your workplace, then this option has many advantages. As with composting organic waste at home, a level of commitment and rigour is required to ensure the correct combination of nitrogenous and non-nitrogenous materials are included in your composting bin. Traditional composting involves bi-weekly soil pile turnover and allows for a narrower bracket of organic materials, whereas a small, convenient system such as the Bokashi Bin caters for a broader amount of material in small volumes, produced in a low-effort manner. Your workplace style and size will determine which is best for you.
No matter the scale, as a workplace which recycles organic matter you will be leading by example in the move towards zero-waste sustainable business practices.