February 28, 2017

Trimming our “Waste Line”

By Mariana Trusson

As part of our ISO 14001 and our One Planet Living drive we recognised the potential for improvements in terms of our waste disposal from the Edinburgh office. The idea is to reduce our waste to landfill by minimising office waste and improving recycling facilities.

When we moved to our new premises in 2015 we continued many of the good practises from our old place and adopted a range of new waste prevention and waste management initiatives. In particular, the new office has the space to separate clean waste so it can be recycled (previously just paper was recycled), so colour coded recycling bins are provided in the main common area.

Worth the weight
We recognise the importance of measuring what we discard to help us monitor if we are on track and whether we need to make any changes to the way we do things. To this effect, we asked our landlord to provide us with details of the waste removal for our office. We went into a relatively long deliberation and realised that the Landlords agent were in need of a detailed session whereby we explained our environmental targets and the importance of waste within these targets.

Waste collection is paid for through service charges and is not based on waste produced, rather area let, to this effect we measure waste on a pro rata basis (as opposed to fully weighing our waste).

The landlord provided the waste data we needed 11 months after we moved in. On first assessment, the data was not as detailed as we would prefer, however, they were figures we can use.

When the second set of figures arrived, two months later, we identified that the figures were identical to our first report, in fact it seemed that the figures had been unchanged for a while. We challenged this and helped the Landlords agents challenge this with the waste company. It seemed that we were the first to read their reports for the building since their appointment.

Currently, reports are issued promptly, and are more accurate than they have been. In addition, the landlords agents, and the other businesses within the building have a better understanding of the contribution waste makes to our environmental impact.

Most importantly, the other building tenants are looking to go for ISO14001 themselves and our “trash talk” was a one of the reasons this happened.

If we would look to improve anything, it would be:

  1. To have separate bins per business to allow for a better understanding of our individual contribution and breakdown. This is effective even if we do not pay for waste by weight/volume.
  2. To have more control over how figures are reported to us by the waste collection company.
  3. To have communication access to the waste collection company (currently we are not allowed to contact them directly and thus it is quite time consuming to see actions through).

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Sustainable Cundall

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