Nature does not create waste. Everything that lives and dies breaks down into its basic components and becomes part of the resurgence of new life.
Humans are the only species on the planet that create waste that is outside the cycle of life. (Does not break down and help to recharge our life system). All of this comes with a cost, but what can we do?
Sage Environmental Services, Inc. of Seattle, WA in partnership with PorterWorks, Inc. created a documentary in 2011 focusing on the future of Zero Waste as a key element of sustainable business. The documentary features interviews with industry leaders, policy-makers, activists, scientists and business professionals from the Pacific Northwest region, as well as functional tips for individuals and businesses to adapt.
There is a short streamer that contains just enough information to whet your appetite to know more. I recommend viewing the full 60-minute film and keeping it as a reference tool for training your employees. The investment of time pays off in the creation of a company culture that will save real dollars in operations and waste disposal.
Here are a few excerpts of interviews with Cascadia Consulting, University of Washington and several businesses:
Charlie Scott Principal, Cascadia Consulting/Resource Venture "If you have waste, you are inefficient, wasting money and there is an opportunity to reduce costs and increase profits. From a commercial standpoint waste represents an opportunity to be more profitable."
JR Fulton, Capital Planning and Sustainability Manager/Housing and Food Services, University of Washington said, "we need to look at the whole life cycle impact of products including impacts from transport, manufacturing as well as disposal."
Between 2004 and 2010 the University of Washington increased their recycling from 35% to 58% with a goal of 70% by 2020. Without recycling and composting they would have spent an additional $892,007 on waste disposal in 2010 alone.
We need only look at our own history for an example of a close to zero waste society. In the 1900's everything was reused. Even rags were collected and woven into rope or weaved into rugs. All food was composted, all packaging was used and reused until it was made into something else.
General Biodesel is a local company that helps businesses deal with waste oil and grease. General Biodesel is guessing that there could be up to 10 - 13 million gallons of used cooking oil in Seattle alone/year. Hoby Douglas, Vice President of Sustainable Development at General Biodesel asserts for those producing food for consumption, air ports, hospitals, shopping centers, corporate campuses, restaurants, "we provide them the solution not only to remove the waste grease for them but we transform it into something greater than just a land fill waste or an export product to a foreign nation."
"The clients we serve we take what is a waste stream and turn it into jobs, taxes and low carbon fuel."
A locally-owned restaurant Jasmin Thai, has built relationships with its community in order to solve its food waste problem and saved hard dollars in the process.
They have local farmers that take the food waste for their pigs. Other locals ask for their compost waste (items such as egg shells the pigs won't eat), meat scraps goes to their dogs at home. The program is so popular there is a waiting list of people who want to receive their restaurant waste.
Tori Dawson and Chantel Martin Co-owners Jasmin Thai say most of what they have done has saved them money. They were able to contract for a smaller waste bin saving them $150 a month.
For many businesses waste management is not large percentage of their cost of doing business, but according to Richard Conlin Council President/Chair of Regional Development and Sustainability Committee, Seattle City Council they (business owners) "are actually able to help foster an environmental ethic in their employees which every evidence that we have demonstrates that that improves peoples moral and makes people more cooperative more ready to work and it provides a marketing, an ability to market to the public as a company that really cares about the environment."
We talk about the economics in terms of how many dollar and cents your are going to save but really "the productivity of your employees and the ability of your company to move in the market successfully and have a good positive popular image is actually a much more important economic benefit."
Sage Environmental Services, Inc. continued commitment to education and development of the next generation of leaders and pioneers, this documentary is released under a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)