Seeking better performance: Integrating waste diversion is a key first step for businesses

Waste as a term is sometimes misleading — a growing number of items can be reused, recovered or recycled, and don’t have to be “wasted.”

In Ontario, many businesses are required to operate recycling programs, conduct waste audits and develop waste reduction plans as legislated by Ontario Regulation 103/94 and Regulation 102/94.

While some businesses comply simply to meet these legislated requirements, an increasing number of businesses recognize the dollar value attached to solid waste.

While this trend is good news, there’s been slow progress when it comes to businesses focusing on waste reduction, waste diversion and capture rates.  Reducing overall waste generation is challenging, and differs significantly from one business to the next.

Recognizing the importance of an integrated waste diversion management program is the first step. In other words, businesses should consider the 3Rs hierarchy (reduce, reuse, recycle) in every aspect of their planning and operations. A strong waste diversion program begins with corporate commitment through procurement policies that are regularly reviewed by senior management. Policies set obligations — no matter what the size of business — and communicate to stakeholders waste reduction is to be taken seriously.

Purchasing decisions directly affect the type of materials that later need to be disposed of and in what manner.  A strong procurement policy for goods and services, followed by a site specific plan is key to waste reduction. Another important tenet to increasing performance is having an annual review of current waste diversion streams. What is currently being diverted? Where are the materials taken? What is the final destination? Due diligence may prove advantageous as new technologies and services become available – perhaps new materials have been added to your contractors list of acceptable recyclable materials.

Recognizing the importance of a holistic approach to solid waste diversion, and the need for comparable data from the institutional, commercial and industrial (IC&I) sector, Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) has developed 3RCertified waste diversion certification program. 3RCertified is a voluntary certification program that aims to recognize leadership while improving overall performance in the IC&I sector. Applicants answer online survey questions that probe at an organization’s waste diversion program’s management and delivery activities. Tackling the current lack of externally verified performance data for the sector, applicants also provide two years of waste audit information.  Depending upon the success of an applicant’s waste reduction and waste diversion successes, a business can become certified at the bronze, silver, gold or platinum level.  This certification becomes a public – and internal — testament to the business’ commitment to the environment.

With strong participation, RCO will be able to report on the IC&I sector’s performance (in aggregate) and help buinsesses benchmark themselves against their peers.

3RCertified will be fully launched in winter 2013. Already, four properties in Ontario — 135 St. Clair Avenue West (Ministry of the Environment), Cloverdale Mall (Bentall Kennedy LP), Canada Square (Northam Realty Advisors Limited), and Meadowvale Corporate Centre (Bentall Kennedy LP) — have been certified, demonstrating their commitment to waste reduction and diversion.

In Ontario, the majority of all waste generated is from the IC&I sector.  If more businesses embrace the 3Rs, and commit to waste reduction and waste diversion, there can be a tremendous benefit to our shared environment.  Is your business up to the challenge?

About this guest blogger:

Meirav Even-HarGuest Blogger

Meirav Even-Har
Guest Blogger

Meirav Even-Har is the Program Manager for 3RCertified Waste Diversion Certification program at Recycling Council of Ontario. With over a decade of combined environmental experience in corporate and grassroots organizations, she brings a unique approach to the institutional, commercial and industrial (IC&I) sector for which 3RCertified is geared towards. While at the Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR), she was the Corporate Social Responsibility Advisor and Membership Manager.

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2 Responses to Seeking better performance: Integrating waste diversion is a key first step for businesses

  1. GreenBizPays says:

    So many businesses have a great waste reduction story to tell. Maybe this is the way to go about getting the word out that not only does it make great business $sense$ to manage (and prevent) waste but a lot of innovative things are being done in some surprising areas in the industrial sector.

  2. Pingback: Improving waste diversion in the industrial, commercial and institutional sector | HaltonRecycles

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