Changes in consumer behaviour
Since customers have become more sustainability-conscious in their purchases, waste management has begun to play an even more important role in South Africa’s retail sector. Retailers need to adapt their waste management policies to the changes in consumer awareness and behaviour.
The financial implications of inefficient waste management
Waste management costs continue to rise, and inefficiencies in your waste stream can lead to massive financial losses. From the costs of getting rid of waste products to the tax related to a heavy carbon footprint, the high expense of ignoring sustainability issues cannot be denied.
The need to improve waste management is more than just a feel-good endeavour. There are clear economic benefits that can also assist in your marketing and communication efforts. Along with saving costs, you can build a better reputation as a brand.
Smart steps towards improving waste management in the retail sector
Customer-focused recycling initiatives
Retailers can lead the way and encourage customers to recycle their products when the active life cycle of the product ends. Sometimes, these recycling initiatives are far-reaching and can make a difference on a global scale.
To start, your company can offer customers incentives for participating in recycling programmes. A brilliant example is the Adidas “Give Back” recycling programme. This giant footwear company encourages customers to bring their old shoes into their stores, regardless of brand.
Customers benefit in that they get a discount on Adidas products. The shoes are then used to make new shoes or processed to produce energy. Everyone wins!
Examples of energy used in the programme include powering cement kilns. Waste is reduced through the smart implementation of the programme and many concerns are addressed through this Sustainable Footprint programme.
Nespresso is another company that has a global recycling initiative. They provide their customers with recycling bags for their used coffee pods and request them to return their filled bags when they come back to the store. The used pods are then collected, washed and recycled.
E-waste take-back programmes
Consumer electronic devices, for example, television sets and computers, create e-waste. Proper disposal of e-waste is problematic in South Africa as it is illegal to dispose of any e-waste in landfill. The reason is that most contain highly toxic materials, therefore it’s best to get a reputable and certified waste management company to collect and properly dispose of all electrical and electronic waste. Mpact Waste Management offers e-waste management as part of its waste solution programme, and even takes large appliances.
Another way to ward against these hazardous materials leaking into the environment lies in how ‘Take-Back’ retailers have created programmes to minimise their impact. An example of this is Apple’s Trade-In Programme. Consumers can return their used Apple devices (phones, laptops, desktops, etc.) and get in-store credit on eligible devices. If the device isn’t eligible for instore credit, Apple will recycle the device.
Cut back on e-commerce packaging
We live in a modern world where almost every retailer, whether large or small, has an online presence. Shopping online leads to plenty of packaging. Packaging plays an important role in ensuring goods arrive at their destination in good condition. Its key role is to protect the contents from getting damaged.
Most e-commerce waste comes from the over-packaging of products. Products bought online often arrive in large boxes filled with plastic that’s filled with air or a too-large box for a smaller item.
Products are protected, but the waste generated is often excessive and unnecessary. Retailers can make a huge difference by encouraging consumers to recycle this packaging.
Reduce food waste in the food sector
Globally, food wastage amounts to a full third of the world’s food production. This represents an immense quantity of wasted resources that includes water, energy, labour and land.
Much food wastage takes place on arrival at supermarkets. Spoiled food is often thrown out in truckloads. A large percentage of food produced in South Africa goes uneaten.
Some reasons for this include overstocking, low standards and incorrect sell-by-date labels. Wastage of food also produces carbon dioxide emissions. By addressing these gaps in your supply chain, you can reduce the amount of food that goes to waste.
Repurposing of food that would otherwise be thrown out could address the problem of families going to bed hungry at night. Many retailers have begun initiatives that distribute food to underprivileged families and communities. These initiatives help solve the issue of prevalent hunger and massive amounts of wasted food.
Mpact Waste Management’s range of services includes food and organic waste management, which facilitates practical and sustainable solutions for the recycling, reuse and disposal of organic waste. This includes sending it to composting or alternative energy facilities.
Cut back on packaging waste in the food sector
Wherever possible, in accordance with food safety standards in South Africa, retailers have a responsibility to drive the change of packaging for food items from non-recyclables to recyclable materials. By doing this we have the potential to reduce the amount of food-related packaging that ends up in our oceans and landfills.
Retailers can relook packaging design that reduces the amount of packaging needed for the food item while ensuring design for circularity principles.
Use modern technology to solve ancient problems
One way to tackle waste and divert recyclable waste away from landfill is by getting on-site waste management for retail stores in South Africa. Through an on-site programme, we are tackling inefficient waste systems at the source.
With updated technology and innovative modern solutions to age-old problems, Mpact Waste Management can revolutionise your waste stream for good and help you keep costs down. Today’s retailers face many challenges. To survive and thrive, they need to think creatively and adopt new solutions so that they can make a positive difference that will ensure continued, long-term success.
We offer the retail sector a full on-site solution that is customised to fit the specific needs of individual companies. Our on-site waste management audit is free. This will enable us to assess your waste generation and help address the challenges unique to your situation.