In a corporate environment, waste comes in many forms. From valuable resources that end up in landfills, to excessive energy consumption that can be avoided or minimized, many organizations underestimate the power of culminating a Zero-waste strategy.

So, what is Zero-waste? Zero-waste eliminates inefficiencies across all organizational levels. From employee to resource management, pursuing Zero-waste initiative means identifying opportunities to generate positive impacts on our environment, communities, and economies by reducing the costs and risks related to material, energy, and water consumption.

Current unsustainable practices and rates of resource consumption can easily creep into our daily lives. Research shows that sustaining the current rate of U.S. resource consumption would require over four planet earths1. Our culture of waste contributes significantly to threatening environmental trends such as climate change. Although there have been plenty of operational advancements since climate change was first identified, there are still many businesses and agencies compromising a green future by not implementing a Zero-waste methodology. Wasteful companies may quickly find themselves struggling to keep up with evolving regulations and competing with the lean profit margins of their more sustainable counterparts. This trend has already begun and is likely to continue, because profitable opportunities are missed whenever materials are, mistakenly, never used again.

What is considered waste in one industry may be an advantage to another. Discarding valuable resources puts our planet in peril, and doesn’t make financial sense. We currently live in a society where “waste” can be transformed into a building (such as when fly-ash, a by-product of burned coal, is repurposed into brick, cement, or thousands of other unexplored possibilities), and even the building itself can be even further broken down, recycled, and salvaged. This Zero-waste initiative introduces flexibility into resource management. It retains the product’s economic value instead of spilling it into static, environmentally damaging waste. Facilities, companies, and government agencies that learn to effectively manage resources embody the concept of Zero-waste, can become well positioned to improve their profits and can save hundreds of millions, and even billions of dollars2. Striving for Zero-waste helps eliminate environmental and social impacts, enhance brand/reputation, and mitigate future risks.

“We are entering a new era of corporate responsibility—one that values a culture of Zero-waste integrated into our everyday…”

While creating environmentally friendly business practices is an excellent mission to accomplish, these practices also give businesses a major competitive edge far beyond “green-branding”. As climate change progresses and as regulations become more stringent, agencies executing a low carbon intensity will be ahead of the curve. Entities that embrace a Zero-waste philosophy are well positioned to thrive in a resource constrained future. In fact, companies that better manage environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors consistently outperform their less sustainable counterparts (see figure3 below). Studies have shown that companies who are good stewards of the environment have a better ability to attract and retain top talent. A recent Cone Communications study found that 65 percent of millennials will not take a job from a company with poor corporate social responsibility (CSR)4. We are entering a new era of corporate responsibility—one that values a culture of Zero-waste integrated into our everyday work environments.

The good news is that eliminating waste of all forms has massive financial benefits. At Zero Waste Solutions, Inc. (ZWS), we are experts at identifying “waste” practices and developing strategies to drive them away from costs, and towards sustainability. By thinking outside-the -box, we help our clients use innovation to jumpstart their Zerowaste processes. At Keesler Air Force Base (KAFB), ZWS identified opportunities for continuous improvement in resource efficiency and increased waste diversion through reuse, recycling, composting, and using waste- to-energy conversion, among other
initiatives. In March 2012 alone, KAFB diverted over (sixty-two percent) 62% of their waste from being landfilled to generating an additional $11,522 in revenue. Completing their diversion mission successfully, they also generated an additional $16,377 in recycling revenue in June of the same year.

Zero Waste Solutions, Inc. aims to introduce a dialogue of corporate stewardship, to design strategies that create value and optimize resource management at every level.

Typical operational management

Zero-waste management

From our perspective, we believe there really is no waste in nature. ZWS exists because we realize that greenwashing and cutting corners in the industry does not create true value, and instead pushes the responsibility of efficiency to the next generation. Our organization chooses to help businesses and governments practically align their operations to eliminate waste and optimize the use of precious resources. We understand that when properly managed, environmental stewardship is simply good business.

Authors:
Shavila Singh, President & Jai Sharma, VP of Business Relations

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