How your company can support the circular economy

How your company can support the circular economy

2021 / 06 / 23

Food waste or food loss refers to food intended for human consumption which is discarded without being eaten, where organic waste generally refers to biodegradable, compostable waste from homes, businesses, institutions, and industrial sources. Examples include food scraps, yard and garden trimmings, food-soiled paper products and biosolids.

Avoidance is the first step in the waste hierarchy, according to EnviroServ Waste Management’s Ryan van Heerden.

“We find it easier to begin with waste minimisation, so producers need to measure all waste streams and generation points, classify all waste streams, cradle to cradle reporting and sustainability reporting to understand the net impact of what you are producing as an organisation. Record your benchmarks and set your KPI’S. With continuous feedback comes continuous improvement.”

Moving down the waste hierarchy, the next step is ‘reuse’, which can be done both internally and externally, through reworking and alternative uses. Thereafter you can dsicuss with your suppliers, other industries and even look for enterprise development opportunities.

Recycling begins with sampling of waste, analysis and classification for both hazardous and non-hazardous waste to ensure it is being managed in a compliant manner. “EnviroServ offers our clients compliance, assistance with correct licenses, all of which gives peace of mind,” van Heerden said. The company has over 200 on-site recycling operations at customer sites nationally. 

There are many alternatives to landfill, just some of those offered by EnviroServ include animal nutrition, composting, waste to energy, liquid treatment plants, and manufacture of bricks and furniture. There is a host of opportunities at the moment with regards to recycling of hazardous materials, said van Heerden.

“There can be challenges involved, such as licensing issues, geographic spread, volumes of waste streams as well as financial feasibility. There must be a balance between your sustainability targets and financial constraints. Sometimes there are no alternative solutions and waste has to be landfilled. Here the company should look at what they can do to reduce the production of these waste stream.”

On-site waste management allows companies to take ownership of their own waste, resulting in brand protection while waste is separated at source, preventing cross contamination, job creation, a reduction in carbon footprint, recyclables trading and return logistics. All this results in cost reductions and allows you to move towards a circular economy.

“Zero waste to landfill is always our ultimate goal – and with more than 37% of EnviroServ’s revenue derived from alternative solutions to landfill,  we really walk the talk, diverting over 10 000 tons from landfill in South Africa each month. There are a lot of simple solutions and opportunities.”

There is a need at many companies to conduct awareness and behavioural training, to move employees into a circular economy mindset, at all levels of the business. “It’s a collaborative effort,” said van Heerden. “Companies just need to get started – measure, look at compliance issues from a legal, ethical and moral standpoint, plan for the future and collaborate.”  



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