We always recommend that our customers attempt zero waste. Not because zero waste is necessarily possible, but because a zero waste focus always ensures that you optimise your operation’s materials value, minimise your overall environmental footprint, and develop the potential for additional revenue streams from recycled or recovered waste.

Because manufacturing operations and product output are so diverse, no single waste management strategy is applicable to all organisations. There are, however, some best practice approaches and procedures that will help you clarify and prioritise your waste management needs and indicate what baseline implementation activities you must undertake.

It’s important to start with understanding what waste management initiatives will improve your organisation’s sustainability. These will then have to be aligned with applicable legislation and general waste management and manufacturing sector best practices.

Ideally, you would opt for integrated waste management, simply because it offers the highest number of operational, balance sheet, stakeholder, and reputational benefits at least cost.

Least cost because an integrated approach automatically enables you to rationalise and streamline processes, equipment and materials.

At its simplest, integrated waste management results in:

  • Waste reduction
  • Improvement of resource efficiency
  • Better yields and efficiencies
  • Cost savings
  • Lowered environmental impacts
  • Greater safety for workers
  • Minimised impact on surrounding communities
  • Improved awareness through empowerment of workers and communities.

Another major consideration for manufacturing companies is emissions to air, water, and the environment. 

To a large extent, these will be governed by legislation for the industry. However, compliance is usually a defensive process, begrudged by many organisations whose bottom line is under strain. Organisations tend to forget that they also have pro-active, productive options, such as earning revenue from carbon credits granted for reduction of emissions.

Choosing to take a positive approach to waste management also means deciding where in the waste hierarchy you want to position your company. So, you would need to look at having a waste reduction policy along with a waste minimisation policy and waste prevention initiatives.

These will dictate whether you separate your waste on site and re-use or recycle waste internally or externally. What recovery practices do you need or would you like? Do you need a chemical inventory control system? Can you replace toxic chemicals in your production value chain? Can you change packaging, product design, and manufacturing processes to reduce hazardous waste? Are you prepared to buy equipment that reduces waste?

Into your integrated waste management plan, you will need to build your decisions on, among others, your energy consumption. This must include not only your own energy consumption needed for production, packaging, and marketing, but the energy consumption of your suppliers. Some of your criteria for choosing suppliers must centre on their waste management effectiveness.


None of these are easy decisions to make without knowing what best practice is, what others in your sector are doing, and how much of what you need to do can be outsourced to companies like us and, thereby, reduce your overhead burden and your risk.

Which is why we offer an advisory service that helps you identify your needs and create appropriate plans around them. Because we have been serving the manufacturing sector for more than three decades, we know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to waste management delivering business value in terms of safety, performance, and cost reduction.

We also have the equipment, facilities, and expertise to help you implement proven waste management programmes on site or to outsource your waste management to best effect.

If you would like to find out what options are available for your organisation, please contact our Customer Care Line on 0800 192 783 for South African enquiries and click here for the contact details for enquiries across Sub-Saharan Africa​.