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Five steps to waste efficiency

Step 1 – Measuring business waste

Visual waste assessment

Visual waste assessment

In business, it is impossible to manage something that isn’t measured. Establishing the types and quantities of materials in the business waste stream is commonly referred to as a ‘waste assessment’ or ‘waste audit,’ but the analysis does not need to be as onerous as it sounds.

The worksheets can help develop a quick visual waste assessment.

Using the worksheets (see availability) and conversion tables, a business can quickly determine the amount of waste it generates. For the quick visual assessment, go around to all the bins presented for collection just before the collection truck arrives and see how full they are. Don't worry if there are different sized bins; simply note down the sizes, an estimate of how full they are, and how often waste is collected. For example, there might be a standard domestic 240-litre wheelie bin that is 50 per cent full and collected once a week, thus equaling 120 litres of waste per week.

Once this information has been collated, the business knows how much waste material is produced within a given timeframe.

Step 2 – Reducing waste going to landfill

Following the widely accepted waste hierarchy, businesses can identify options to:

  • Reduce – can waste be avoided or reduced by the way the business procures goods and services or by changing the way it operates?
  • Reuse – does another local business have a use for the waste materials produced?
  • Recycle – what materials can be targeted for recycling?

A series of sample waste profiles have been prepared to help businesses understand what the likely composition of their waste is and what waste streams can be reduced, reused or recycled. Case studies are available to provide businesses with ideas for diverting useful materials from going to landfill, saving them money and helping protect the environment.

Step 3 – Identifying local collectors of recyclable materials

Planet Ark logo

Planet Ark logo

By knowing how much material the business produces over a period of time, and the types of materials that can be diverted from landfill, the business can identify the most suitable waste and recycling collection contractors.

The department has partnered with Planet Ark’s business recycling directory to help businesses find local resource recovery collection contractors.

The Business Recycling website and hotline lists both private and local government recycling services (including collection, transport or drop-off points) across Queensland and Australia. It allows businesses to search by type of material and location so that they can easily find the recycling services they want.

Step 4 – How to understand waste and recycling collection contracts

Businesses need to understand how to secure the most appropriate collection arrangement for the recoverable materials they produce. As part of investigating what can be recycled, businesses also need to consider what impacts their waste or recycling contract arrangements (see availability) are going to have on their ability to recycle.

The first contact should be the current waste service provider who may be a private operator or the local council.

Businesses should think about what their current contract offers and how this may affect their waste and recycling practices. Businesses also need to consider that a waste or recycling contract is a legal document and they may require independent legal advice.

Step 5 – How to implement material collection systems at business premises

Poster of recycle here for office paper

Poster of recycle here for office paper

Different businesses generate different types of recoverable materials. The bins emptied into the collection truck, typically wheelie bins and bulk bins, may not be the same bins used for collecting the material around business premises. How businesses separate materials will be determined by how waste is collected.

For example, if businesses have separate paper or cardboard collection services, then paper and cardboard will need to be separated from other recyclable materials, preferably at the point where it is generated. This requires clear communication and signage to be available to staff, cleaners and in some cases clients.

The department has produced free-to-download-signage to help businesses implement an effective resource recovery system.

Available from the library catalogue

The documents referred to on this page are available from the department’s online library catalogue.

Last reviewed
1 December 2015
Last updated
3 August 2012