A waste management plan is an important part of any facility’s environmental responsibility and sustainability goals. But it can be difficult to reach these goals in practice. To help, we’ve outlined steps that will enable facilities to make substantial progress toward their recycling, reuse and disposal goals.
1. Start with a base of data.
In addition to establishing baselines for current waste management practices, your facility should also set waste reduction or recycling targets for its operations. These goals should be realistic and challenging, but achievable. For example, your facility might target to reduce waste disposal volumes by 20% or to see no compliance violations in six months. Tracking your facility’s progress toward its targets will help it establish a consistent record of success, while providing a useful benchmark for future improvement.
2. Identify local recyclers and waste disposal facilities.
It’s vital to understand the recycling and waste disposal options available in your community, region or state before an incident occurs. This includes identifying the types of waste your facility generates and understanding what local recyclers and waste disposal facilities are capable of handling. Your waste management partner should be able to provide you with this information and help your facility work toward its sustainability goals.
3. Choose a waste management partner that has experience with your specific types of waste.
If your facility produces hazardous materials, it’s critical to find a waste management partner with the expertise and resources to handle this type of material safely. This could include specialized chemical waste services, which can prevent toxins from leaching into the environment. Choosing a partner with this level of expertise can also make it easier for your facility to work toward its sustainable goals.
4. Communicate your waste management plan with your facility’s employees.
It is crucial to communicate your waste management plan with the individuals who will be involved in separating, transporting and disposing of your facility’s waste after an incident. Whether they are private carters, recycling or reuse centers or waste management facilities, it’s important for these individuals to understand your company’s plans and how they might impact their work following an incident.
5. Set and achieve waste management goals.
As your facility continues to develop its new processes, it’s essential to regularly measure and compare the cost of your operation against its sustainable goals. Using this information, you can adjust your costs as necessary and make the changes required to ensure consistent achievement of your goals. For example, you may decide to hire a full-time recycling coordinator to manage and supervise your facility’s new waste processing systems or invest in additional recycling and recovery equipment.
In New York City, for instance, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has been adjusting its waste management system to transition from a truck-based waste export system to one that relies more on barges and rail. This is intended to improve geographic equity in the distribution of sanitation infrastructure and reduce the number of sanitation trucks on the streets.