The CABA blog post last December, “Small Business Needs to Engage in Paris and Beyond” stated a clear call to action for small businesses to join the efforts toward reducing their impact on climate change. However, the achievement of sustainability goals can sometimes seem overwhelming to small companies – there are drastic measures that need to be taken in order to reach the goals set in Paris at COP21.
While the path for large corporations and countries may be clearer because of the economies of scale that come with controlling large amounts of waste generation, collection, and processing, the question becomes for small businesses – “How can I take action to reduce my environmental impact when I don’t generate large amounts of waste?” This is the basis for a “Micro-Waste Impact Strategy.”
For commercial consumers of waste removal services, there are several ways that waste haulers help small businesses reduce their overall impact – these include alternative fuel trucks, investing in more efficient and effective recycling facilities, investing in food and plant-based material recycling facilities (such as compost and anaerobic digestion), as well as many others. However, these initiatives require millions of dollars of capital expense, as well as the right mix of business justifications and legislative environments. The result is that not all of these benefits can be universally utilized by small businesses (these are “Macro-Waste Impacts”).
Drafting a Micro-Waste Impact Strategy for small businesses can be difficult. The biggest challenge is around gathering specific information that is reliable enough to justify actions. This becomes inherently difficult for small businesses that have recurring weekly waste and recycling services. Generally, small businesses can only measure waste generation by the size of the container and the number of services per week – therefore the data only changes when services change.
This is where companies like Enevo can help. By taking hourly measurements of waste fill levels in waste and recycling containers, and measuring the volumes and times of collection, small businesses can create a baseline of how much waste they generate based on actual readings, rather than assuming the container is full every time it is collected (or trying to manually measure that information). The automated aggregation of this data makes measuring improvement across all waste types (trash, recycling, and compost) as businesses strive to reduce total waste and increase total landfill diversion. That information can also be used to identify what levels of service are needed, whether there is one location or thousands, which means small businesses can reduce the financial burden associated with waste services, and allocate those funds toward business-critical needs. This becomes especially important as new waste collection services are added, for example adding a food waste collection service, as is important in Massachusetts this year.
The strategies associated with a Micro-Waste Impact plan are best paired with a data-driven structure to establish a baseline of current waste generation, and a continuous improvement process to measure performance toward goals set around that baseline.
Originally posted on CABA, Climate Action Business Association