By Marinus van Vollenhoven, Manager at Mpact Waste Management
Compelling reasons to get a waste management plan in place
If you own or run a business in South Africa you know that generating waste is part and parcel of your operations, no matter what industry you’re in. Unfortunately, because it is still relatively inexpensive to dispose of waste at South African landfills, there are still businesses that are under the illusion that it’s fine for their waste to go to landfill.
Here are 3 reasons why every business owner in South Africa has a responsibility to include sustainable waste management in their operational strategy and to minimise their waste to landfill.
South Africa’s looming landfill crisis
South Africa is fast running out of landfill space. There is simply no more room for non-recyclable waste, let alone recyclable and organic waste. The looming landfill crisis is threatening to push up the costs of waste disposal for companies and individuals alike. So, a waste management plan is not a “nice-to-have” but is a must for every business, whether big or small.
Every individual and business is legally compelled under the National Environmental Management: Waste Act 59 of 2008 to dispose of and manage their waste responsibly. The Act also outlines procedures to improve waste management practises.
If any company is seen to be irresponsible with its waste management, those in charge risk being fined or could even face imprisonment for serious infractions. Apart from criminal liability, this could damage a company’s reputation irreparably. Mpact Waste Management helps companies to comply legally and generates reports to track and trace your waste.
A sustainable waste management plan is cost-effective
The assumption is that a waste management plan will be costly and is therefore a waste. However, Mpact Waste Management offers a cost-effective solution because we work on site, which keeps efficiency up and costs low. We have also helped some of our clients to earn an income stream from their recyclable waste.
Information is key to a successful sustainable waste strategy. A lack of information results in higher (and unnecessary) costs. We offer a FREE waste audit so that we can get this critical information and tailor a plan to your business.
3 Steps to including sustainable waste management in your operational strategy
Understanding the numbers
There is often a lack of dedicated budgets to support sustainability strategies because of limited information regarding the costs of a waste management system. However, with the right information, correct plans can be put in place and costs can be mitigated. See what we did for one of our happy clients here.
It’s clear that in order to pursue effective waste management goals, there needs to be an understanding of the financial impact of these plans that then informs a dedicated budget to ensure its success.
For example, if a company planned to dispose of its waste at a diversion plant, such as a waste-to-energy or composting facility, as opposed to the closest landfill site, there would be logistic costs associated with this decision. Ongoing funds would need to be made available for this plan to be followed effectively.
Without detailed knowledge around the financial aspects of operationalising any sustainability goals, the follow-through is often difficult.
Understanding your waste streams
It’s important to understand the details of your company’s various waste streams (recyclables and/or non-recyclables), and overall waste generation. This coupled with an understanding of disposal/recycling technologies available could mean that your business decisions may change.
In our experience, when it comes to waste, a large portion of the contents of a company’s waste stream is consistent but there will always be variable waste components, and this must be taken into consideration when planning strategies and budgets.
For example, a few years ago, long-life milk and juice cartons were not recyclable. However, thanks to Mpact’s Liquid Packaging Recycling Plant located at its Paper Mill in Springs, today it is recyclable. This means that companies that manufacture this type of packaging material can now encourage the collection and recycling of their products.
Understanding that there are no short-term solutions to long-term challenges
As long as your company is operating, it’s generating waste. Therefore, waste management is an ongoing function and requires dedicated resources to ensure that it’s done effectively. If all organisations partnered with a reputable waste management company to operationalise their sustainability strategies, both the short and long-term effects would be significantly positive. In the short term, we would see more room in landfills for materials that can’t be diverted and much-needed relief for the environment over the long term.
The solutions that we implement now will impact future generations. If we do not implement effective and sustainable waste management strategies now, we will set a disastrous precedent for future businesses, consumers, and industries. This in turn will negatively impact South Africa’s economy and environment. By looking at and implementing our planet-first strategies, we give the earth a chance to regenerate, we give future business leaders an easier environment to step into and we give a better future a chance to unfold.
About the author:
Marinus van Vollenhoven is the Manager at Mpact Waste Management and spends a significant portion of his time working with companies to develop the right solutions to succeed in their path to sustainable waste management.
Marinus has been with Mpact since 2014, guiding and developing the Mpact Waste Management team to become a major contender in the waste management services industry sector. During this time, he has gained in-depth knowledge and understanding of the recycling industry and its implementation in business, which brings a wealth of insight to this necessary topic.