Waste management involves the planning, monitoring, and implementation of activities to reduce and manage unwanted materials. These unwanted materials may include industrial, organic, household, municipal, biomedical, and radioactive wastes, among others. The goal of waste management is to minimize the impact of these materials on human health, the environment, and planetary resources.
The best way to manage waste is to prevent it from being generated in the first place. This is known as waste minimization, and it can be achieved through a number of strategies including the use of environmentally conscious manufacturing techniques, chemical neutralization technologies to reduce reactivity, and water saving systems for material storage.
Another form of waste management is reusing items rather than disposing of them. This can be done through the repair, refurbishing, repurposing or recyclability of products, packaging and appliances. For example, replacing paper plates and plastic utensils in the employee kitchen with real ones could significantly cut down on the amount of trash created each day. In addition, using cloth napkins and reusable cups instead of disposables can also have an impact on overall waste reduction.
Composting is a type of ecological waste management, and it uses the natural process of decomposition to turn organic waste into soil. This reduces the need for raw materials, and it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Another ecological method of waste management is incineration, which uses heat to convert solid waste into ash and other useful products. This is also popular in countries with limited landfill space.
Other forms of waste management include recycling, which turns unwanted materials into new ones for a specific purpose. For example, turning paper, glass, metal, and plastic into new products cuts energy usage, reduces the need for raw materials, and protects the environment. Other types of waste management include resource recovery and plasma gasification, which converts organic waste into gaseous fuel for heating or electricity.
The most effective way to improve waste management practices is to set clear measurable goals and track progress through data-driven tools like dashboards and performance reports. This allows teams to identify areas for improvement and celebrate program milestones. A good way to set goals is by looking at past tracking data to establish a benchmark, and then using that data to inform the creation of new measurable targets. For example, if the company is currently recycling less than 50% of its waste, it can set a goal to reach 70% by next year. This will give everyone a specific, attainable target to work towards and can help keep recycling initiatives top of mind.