B3.11 Waste Minimisation


As outlined in the Principles of Waste Management section, not producing waste to start with is the first step of the Waste Hierarchy. Where it is inevitable that waste will be produced, it should be reduced as far as possible. Less waste equals less of an environmental impact and less problems associated with waste management.

There are numerous techniques available to minimise waste in the workplace. Their application will depend very much on the type of activity and processes involved. For example, a food manufacturing company will employ different techniques to a construction company.

The nature of the production process will present different challenges and opportunities. A good place to start is to look at what waste is being produced. Whilst any steps to reduce waste are commendable, they will have more of an impact on the Organisation’s Management if you can demonstrate exactly how much waste has been reduced (preferably quantifying it economically to show them how much money has been saved). Remember that waste may be referred to as waste, by-products, defects, offcuts, packaging, effluent etc.

To implement a Waste Minimisation programme, you will need to discuss operations with a variety of different employee functions.

Production Managers will know how the production processes work. These functions are termed loosely, as the principle is the same: On a construction Site it is the Construction Manager / Site Manager / Site Agent that will be aware of the ‘production processes’ on the site; in an office it will be the Office Manager.

The Production Managers should be able to explain the processes that occur. Through their knowledge of the processes, you should be able to identify where improvements can be made. For example, look at any off-cuts. Are the off-cuts re-used or disposed of? Is there a reason why the off-cuts are at the length they are? Would using different length pieces produce fewer off-cuts (or off-cuts that are long enough to be re-used)?

The Buying Department will also be a useful source of information. They might be able to provide information on the packaging that is used on items purchased. Once you start reducing your waste, they may play an important part in reducing the amount of packaging you receive through specifying different products with less packaging, packaging that is easier to recycle (cardboard rather than plastic) or through using any bulk buying power to insist the supplier make such changes.

The Quality Assurance Manager may be able to help identify where defect materials come from. If the processes can be changed to reduce the amount of defects produced, there will be less defects to dispose of and therefore less waste.

The Waste Manager (or Environmental Manager, or whoever is responsible for such issues) will be able to provide information regarding the volumes of direct waste produced, through waste invoices, Waste Transfer Notes and weighbridge tickets.

The Accounts Department may also be able to provide information on direct waste costs, taken from invoices received.