Rail, air and shipping


While the waste generated by the transportation industry as a whole is extremely diverse, depending on the particular sub-sector in which both private and public sector organisations operate, it is the diversity that actually indicates what the best waste management strategy is.

Whether you are dealing with secondary materials such as concrete, plastics, and paint or primary materials such as steel, aluminium, copper, and fuels that have a high value and can be hazardous, managing the range of wastes in silos negatively impacts the efficiency of your organisation as a whole.

Logically, therefore, the more integrated and holistic your approach is to your enterprise’s waste streams, the more you can cut costs and effort out of all your other business disciplines.

This goes beyond looking at your waste in terms of the waste hierarchy. Clearly, wherever you can reduce, reuse, or recycle, your organisation benefits in terms either of reduced costs or new revenue streams. It’s a useful approach, but it’s tactical in nature, limiting the benefits you can pass through to your bottom line.


By contrast, if you can address waste management proactively at all levels – planning, construction, operations, and maintenance – then it becomes a tool rather than an operational liability.

Making use of an environmental management system (EMS) is one way to achieve coherence across your waste management activities and, thereby, stimulate continuous performance improvement across the business. It creates a best practice means to build environmental and waste management into your day to day activities. It makes waste management business as usual. So, an EMS based approach is what we recommend to large transportation organisations such as airlines, shipping lines, and rail companies.

These are the kinds of companies that have the technology infrastructure and resources to capture, analyse, and report on waste management data and adjust their activities accordingly to prevent or remediate impacts on the environment and society.

For smaller organisations, usually within the broader transportation value chain, a full EMS may too big an ask. But there are still ways to optimise waste management as a business discipline.


Large or small, all organisations should look at waste management from a sustainability perspective. This means the sustainability of their own business as well as that of the environment.

For instance, the success of metals recycling and reuse depends on the availability of a reverse logistics system that enables the collection of materials and transportation to processing plants – as well as markets that are ready to absorb the materials. Scrap steel, aluminium, and copper, for instance, have positive resale value and steady demand.

In the absence of such facilities, you need be innovative.

In fact, innovation is key to all aspects of waste management in the transportation sector. Legislation is changing constantly, as better waste management options become apparent. New technologies are improving options for reuse and recycling. The simple shift in mindest to encouraging transportation organistions to use brownfield instead of greenfield options when building new facilities is a case in point.

Of course, all changes call for new management approaches, many of which will be too new to have been fully trialed or proven.


Best, therefore, whatever the size of your organisation, to consult specialists like us who have been pro-actively managing transportation industry waste for more than thirty eight years and are up to speed on best practice. We can save you time and money while keeping your reputation intact.

Also, although you will need to embed waste management best practice into your operations, including creating awareness among your stakeholders of why effective waste management is critical to the organisation’s sustainability, it is perfectly possible to outsource the bulk of the practical aspects of your waste management.

This gives you access to our economies of scale and prevents your needing, inhouse, the expensive resources and expertise needed to keep you abreast of global waste management developments,

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​.