On a chilly winter morning, waste warriors from Ratio and Sustainable Solutions Now got together in an empty bike storage room. They laid down a tarp, pulled on their gloves and rolled up their sleeves. One by one, they tipped the office bins into the ground and dug into a week’s worth of waste associated with the daily work of town planners, urban designers, transport engineers and environmental consultants.
In an office setting for a large team located in the heart of Cremorne, general waste and commingled recycling are the typical waste streams you can expect to find. For our intrepid and passionate ‘wasties’, a certain waste landscape began to take shape. Mountains of paper towels from the handwashing stations in the bathrooms and kitchen areas emerged. Food scraps and cardboard boxes from the last catering event stacked up. Misplaced coffee cups and plastic bottles appeared. There were even leftover painting canvases from a social event awaiting collection.
From the tipping of the first bin, our team started digging out a trove of Lost Treasures (items suitable for another chance at utility). Up to 45% of items in the general waste bins have missed out on the opportunity to be recycled and get a second lease on life. A whopping 27% of the materials in the red general waste bin was food waste, from lunch leftovers, peels, and cores galore. Unexpectedly, 19% of general waste was office paper coming from the desks of our busy planners.
By the time the team finished digging through the treasures belonging to the last bin, two things were clear: there was plenty of scope for improvement, and the commitment to our zero-waste mission was renewed amongst our team.
The best findings of the day did not turn up in our waste stream: the best findings were the conversations sparked by our in-house waste audit.
Every level of the company wanted to contribute to our circular economy mission and identify opportunities to do better ‒ by finding a new home for Lost Treasures or raising the idea of worm farms.
With the waste audit complete, Ratio and Sustainable Solutions Now are excited to share their learnings with clients, colleagues and friends who may join in on this zero-waste-to-landfill journey.
If your organisation is keen to scope out similar opportunities and unsure where to begin, reach out to our waste management team at firstname.lastname@example.org.