Working with Employees to Achieve Zero Landfill Status

A company can become an environmental steward and leader in implementing and demonstrating sustainability practices. One way to do this is achieving zero-landfill status by implementing a business model that is both profitable and sustainable.

There are a number of ways that a company can minimize resource consumption, reduce its environmental footprint and eliminate waste throughout all aspects of its business.

Achieving zero-landfill status isn’t just an initiative that comes from the top. It comes from a desire on the part of the company and employees to be good environmental stewards. With this as a unifying goal through all levels of a company and across all departments, all employees are encouraged to help share ideas and promote responsible practices within their work areas.

Crown utilizes a five-step approach to help all involved – employee, customer and supplier – find opportunities for reduction of waste and streamline the process.

1. Analyze the facility’s waste
2. Organize internal communication with all participants
3. Develop a plan for improvement of waste management and reduction
4. Evaluate results to determine success
5. Offer benefits past the company’s bottom line

For all companies looking to improve their waste management, looking at the amount and types of waste being generated is a critical starting point. At first glance, there are obvious products that can be either eliminated, substituted or recycled such as packaging, cardboard boxes, paper and aluminum. But there are other items that can be evaluated, such as plastics including bottles and shrink wrap that may not immediately be obvious.

Besides the waste from warehouses or production areas, there is also paper, plastic and, perhaps, metal waste from a company’s kitchens, bathrooms and offices to be considered. When added together, this can generate a large amount of waste that could be disposed of in a more sustainable manner. By coordinating with employees from all departments and locations, who know best how their departments function, new methods can be found.

By knowing how much waste is generated as well as what kind, companies can better plan for the implementation of new waste management policies. A good start is to separate the different kinds of waste by material and determine what can be reused, eliminated or recycled.

For items such as plastics, which recycling programs may not always take, there may be a chance to engage with other local companies, which may be able to use those materials in their own production activities.

No zero-landfill facility initiative would be possible without the active involvement of all employees. When employees are passionate about sustainable business practices, they are more likely to encourage others not only to participate in current efforts but to generate new ideas. This enthusiastic involvement is an important part of any company’s success in the zero-landfill initiative.

Two key parts of the inclusion of employees is creating an environment that encourages creativity and contribution as well as a method for employees to put forth their ideas for consideration. Creating a continuous improvement program where employees can communicate suggestions to management can be an effective method.

Crown owes it to our communities, employees, customers and future generations to practice environmental responsibility by minimizing landfill space and our environmental footprint. While there may be financial savings generated from a zero-landfill initiative, there may also be new investments required along the way to continue its success. Regardless of these costs, sustainability efforts such as zero-landfill status are good for people, good for business and good for the environment.

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