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Waste, up close and personal. By Graham Scott from WCRS
Following the publication of the Good Practice Guide to Recycling and Waste Management, Graham Scott, senior account manager of WCRS, which sponsored the guide, talks about how FMs can benefit from getting up close and personal with the waste generated on their sites.
With waste management forming some part of a busy FM professional's role, whether managed in-house or by an FM provider, as a responsible waste manager do you really know the contents of your waste and what happens to it when it leaves your site?
In my experience in meetings with clients and reviewing their waste management operations, those responsible for waste management understand who collects and carries their waste and in some part whether it is taken to a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF), incinerator or landfill. However, dig a little deeper to the actual end destination and how it is processed and it becomes a little sketchy. This is not always the case and there are some exemplary examples of waste management information available, however it is important to understand there is much to be gained from really knowing your waste DNA.
Conducting a waste audit can prove to be a very valuable exercise both in ensuring compliance with legislation and in managing your waste in a responsible and sustainable way.
Firstly, businesses and those responsible for waste management must be able to demonstrate that waste is being dealt with appropriately and in accordance with your Duty of Care (refer to Good Practice Guide page 10).
By conducting a compliance audit you can be confident you are fully meeting your Duty of Care obligations from when your waste leaves your site to when it is finally treated or disposed of. For businesses that have ISO 14001 it may be a requirement of your internal management system.
Your waste management provider will be able to help you conduct the audit, from providing you with all relevant certification to arranging a visit to any processing plants where possible.
Waste producers are also legally required to take all reasonable steps to apply the waste hierarchy, following the principles of (in order of preference) Reduction, Reuse, Recycling, Recovery and last resort landfill.
By understanding how much of the different types of waste is being produced, you can address what can be done at all stages of the waste hierarchy, firstly looking at where waste can be reduced and reused. This could be just as simple as setting printers to automatically print double sided to projects that involve auditing your suppliers to see where waste can be reduced through the supply chain.
Finally, many organisations focus intently on setting up a recycling system with a communications launch but, following the launch don?t necessarily conduct regular audits to ensure that the scheme is operating effectively.
There are many factors which can affect the success of a recycling scheme, such as positioning of containers, ongoing marketing communications, awareness training or lack of and signage. By conducting regular audits of the system you can assess what parts of the scheme are working well and identify any problems areas, enabling you to take action to improve the volume and quality of recyclable materials, which can bring both financial and environmental benefits.
When conducting an internal audit of the system there are many approaches that can be taken. For example, a floor-by-floor approach whereby internal containers are assessed to see whether there is any contamination of the recyclable materials and vice versa what recyclable materials are being placed in the general waste.
Likewise, if your general waste is being placed in a dedicated container such as a compactor, you can arrange with your waste contractor for an audit to be carried out at the site where the container is tipped to assess the potential recyclable content.By assessing the recyclable content of the general waste you can set an action plan and some targets for improvement.
Whatever type of audit you are looking to complete, here are some tips for making sure you get the most out of the exercise:
> Have a clear objective at the start of the process, understanding what you are looking to achieve from the audit.
> Work closely with your waste management partner, they will be the key to ensuring the audit is a success and will provide the gateway to the relevant information.
> If you receive management information reporting from your waste management partner, this will provide a good starting point to planning your audit.
> As well as recording facts and figures, take photographic evidence where possible.
Further informaton about auditing and management information can be found in sections 10 and 11 of the Good Practice Guide to Recycling and Waste Management.
A webinar discussing further topics covered in the guide, including changes in legislation, how to tackle your waste further up the waste hierarchy and tips for communicating your recycling scheme, is being held on Tuesday 28 March at 12 noon. Click here to register.
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