Waste is a sign of inefficiency. This was the key message of the presentation by Remi Cesaro, founder of Zero Waste City, a consulting business specialised in waste reduction for industrial and large commercial facilities, at the Facility Management Conference 2018, in Singapore EXPO.
The Facility Management Conference was organised by the Singapore Institute of Building Limited (SIBL) and Sphere Exhibits Pte Ltd and gathered speakers from different industries. Presentations covered a wide range of technologies and processes to make facilities more safe, efficient, reliable, and sustainable. One of the presenting companies, Zero Waste City, dedicated its presentation to the costs and risks related to waste management and how they can be minimised while improving productivity, employee engagement, and environmental impact.
Zero Waste City highlighted the benefits and the method for businesses to implement Zero Waste Programs in their facilities. Zero Waste is a goal and a strategy. The goal is to ensure that over 90% of all materials discarded are diverted from landfill or incineration. The strategy focuses on the reduction, reuse, and redesign of materials before recycling. Companies that implement Zero Waste Programs are more sustainable and resource-efficient, save money and generate new revenue streams, and, add significant value to their organisation. From shopping malls to food suppliers and car manufacturers, several examples and real-life case studies were presented to show how waste was reduced and the financial savings that were achieved.
The method for implementing a Zero Waste Program can be summarised with the following five steps:
- know your waste (zero waste audit),
- get the upper management committed,
- get the staff involved,
- implement projects, and
- monitor, review, and celebrate success.
Identifying and implementing the most relevant opportunities can be challenging and time-consuming and can require a strong commitment from internal staff and the support from external consultants. Once an opportunity has been identified, any regulatory requirements and access to a possible government funding must be assessed. In Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) supports businesses in reducing waste generation through the 3R fund.
In 2017 only, in Singapore, the non-domestic sector sent 1.4 million tonnes of waste to the incinerators (does not include recyclables). If we were pilling up all these trashes together, it would be a mountain almost as high as Marina Bay Sands (187m high versus 207 m high for MBS). Waste takes space, resources, manpower, and money. As resources are depleting, the price of materials is increasing, as well as the cost of managing waste. Going zero waste addresses the triple bottom line of any responsible businesses (Profit, People, and Planet); and the earlier they start their zero waste journey, the more competitive they will be.