Where We’re At
When the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce first started to reach out to businesses about implementing impactful climate initiatives, it became clear that proper waste management has been and remains a challenge for our business community.
Since the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) moved to a new recycling program with RecycleBC, recycling is no longer being accepted for the Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional sector, with the exception of flattened cardboard.
For the institutions, industry and big box stores in the area that generate large quantities of waste, and already had agreements in place with private waste management companies for their recycling programs, this is not as much of an issue.
However, for the small local businesses who do not generate large amounts of waste and whose commercial recycling is in most respects the same as residential recycling, this has proven to be a real barrier to implement impactful climate initiatives.
The Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce is committed to supporting our local businesses to access recycling programs. We’re currently in the ideation phase for a collaboratively funded commercial mixed recycling bin to be housed at the RDCK Lakeside recycling depot.
Stay tuned for project updates on our social media accounts and website.
Although presently challenging, waste is often an overlooked opportunity to prevent greenhouse gas emissions, reduce business costs and improve an organization’s sustainability.
Additionally, with less waste making its way into our local landfills, we prolong their life, saving tax payers from the high costs associated with properly shutting down and establishing new sites.
How Can My Business Tackle Waste?
The first step a business can take to tackle the issue of waste is to think about how waste is being generated in the business and how it can be prevented or reduced.
Waste reduction strategies will vary from business to business based on their industry, and as such, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are some general practices that businesses can adopt to prevent and reduce the waste they generate.
Rethinking waste might involve a waste audit. This is a physical and methodical analysis of all the waste in your workplace that helps identify the type and quantity of waste that your business generates, and can inform an effective waste reduction and diversion plan.
Set Goals & Create A Waste Reduction and Diversion Plan
When developing a waste reduction and diversion plan, it is important to have clear and measurable goals so that teams have a shared understanding of what they’re working to accomplish and how they’re progressing.
Setting goals also helps to prioritize activities for preventing waste and expanding recycling programs. The Chamber recommends that you tackle the type of waste that makes up the bulk of the waste being generated by your business, as this will have the greatest impact in the near term.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure”
Tracking waste and recycling provides the key foundation for a successful waste reduction and diversion plan. You will only know if your plan is working if you’re measuring your progress.
If things aren’t going to plan, you may have to tweak the activities that your business is taking to prevent waste or to find ways to increase your team’s buy-in.
The Business & Climate Advisor at the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce is also available to support you in this process.
The most effective way to reduce your waste is to generate less of it in the first place. Waste prevention offers the greatest environmental and cost saving benefits.
- Reduce: Businesses can modify their current practices to reduce the amounts of waste generated by changing the design, manufacture, purchase, or use of materials or products. For example, your business could encourage employees to only print what they need and ensure that printer settings are defaulted to print double sided to save paper.
- Reuse: Reuse of products and packaging prolongs the useful life of these materials, thus delaying final disposal or recycling. Reuse is the repair, refurbishing, washing, or just simple recovery of worn or used products, appliances, furniture and building materials. For example, by encouraging employees or customers to use reusable coffee mugs rather than single-use, disposable cups, you don’t have to manage the disposal of a bunch of coffee cups.
- Donate: Businesses can donate products or materials to others who need and can use the items. For example, bakeries, restaurants and hotels could promptly distribute perishable and prepared foods to hungry people in their communities.
A Local Example of Repurposing Waste
Spent grains from the beer brewed at Backroads Brewery here in Nelson are donated to farmers and repurposed as animal feed or to build up soils. This arrangement benefits both the farmer and Backroads Brewery.
The farmers drive to the brewery to pickup the spent grains, so Backroads saves money that would otherwise have been spent on the hauling and tipping fees associated with disposing of their waste, and the only cost to farmers for accessing the grains are the costs associated with driving to pick them up.
This is a perfect example of two local businesses collaborating to repurpose and divert waste in a mutually beneficial way that improves their bottom lines, and demonstrates that taking climate action does not have to come at a high cost.
Recycling saves energy, helps keep materials out of landfills and incinerators, and provides raw materials for the production of new products. When waste cannot be prevented, recycling is the next best option.
Recycling is more than extending the life of landfills. It is about making the best use of the resources we have available and conserving those resources for future generations. It is about conserving water, energy, land and raw materials.
Composting is recycling for organics. It converts organic materials, like food waste and yard trimmings, into a valuable soil amendment that contributes to soil health and keeps organic wastes out of landfills, which in turn reduces the amount of methane being emitted from these sites.
Businesses that currently do not have access to commercial composting can soon take advantage of the RDCK’s Organic Waste Diversion program which is currently under development. Organic waste will be diverted to a local processing site in Salmo and turned into high quality compost. For more information about this program, please visit the RDCK website.
How the Chamber Can Help
Not sure where to start? Looking to collaborate with other businesses on issues of waste?
Contact the Business & Climate Advisor at the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce.
The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce Business and Climate Advisor Program is presented in partnership with The Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership and supported by Nelson & District Credit Union.
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