Establishing zero-waste policies in a business might seem daunting, especially if it’s an established operation, has multiple sites or has a complex supply chain, but making small changes in the right direction is a great place to start and can reap many benefits.
Even companies that are already successful with a loyal customer base can benefit from changing policies and procedures to take a greener stance.
Here are the top five reasons why businesses should go zero waste.
Improve Your Brand’s Image
A recent survey by CGS showed that sustainability is top of mind for consumers – 68% of survey respondents rated sustainability as an important factor when making a purchase and 28% indicated they would be more loyal to a company with sustainable and ethical business practices.
In a crowded marketplace where consumers have multiple options to choose from, businesses are always looking for a competitive advantage. Adopting a zero-waste strategy can help set an organization apart from the competition.
Offering comprehensive and transparent information about the transition to zero waste can also help boost a brand’s image and reach a new environmentally-conscious consumer base.
Build a Network
One of the foundations of building a successful business is establishing a strong network. Having a network provides business leaders with multiple channels for guidance, materials, resources or even trustworthy employees.
Adopting a zero-waste strategy and philosophy extends a business’s networking options significantly. Many communities have grassroots movements intended to help businesses access information about zero-waste initiatives. There are several national and international organizations, such as Zero Waste International Alliance, Zero Waste Canada and Zero Waste Network, that were established to help companies increase efficiency through collaboration with professionals and other organizations.
Price-In Zero-Waste Measures
The CGS survey also showed that many consumers are willing to pay a bit more for products that are more sustainably produced. In fact, 35% of the survey respondents said they would pay up to 25% more for sustainable goods and services.
As consumers become more aware of the larger impact of their purchasing decisions, they also become more aware of the true cost of things. This allows brands to factor in the additional costs of zero-waste measures, such as FairTrade manufacturing or farming, using sustainable, renewable and organic materials, and other environmental considerations.
Discover New Revenue Streams
For manufacturing-based companies, going zero waste can open up entirely new revenue streams.
Companies that produce waste volume through a manufacturing process may be able to take advantage of the circular economy, leveraging their zero-waste network to find other companies that are willing to pay for offcuts or waste materials to use in their own products.
Or, in line with the “reuse” stage in the zero-waste hierarchy, companies may be able to develop new products using their own waste materials. The circular concepts surrounding the zero-waste philosophy are designed to place value on all materials. So, even materials traditionally deemed “waste” can be integrated into this model.
Create New Green Jobs
Adopting zero-waste practices opens the door for businesses to not only create new jobs but to create new green jobs.
At the outset of any company’s zero-waste journey, it is beneficial to have a dedicated team or employee, depending on the size of the operation, conduct a waste audit to identify waste streams both within the business and across the supply chains.
For larger operations, this could mean hiring a zero-waste consultant, while smaller companies may opt to work with a freelance consultant or another type of zero-waste business. Businesses also need to consider the impact that extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs will have on the operation and hire knowledgeable staff to both source and properly recycle materials according to guidelines in the region.