Going green is all about saving – but don’t worry, we don’t mean that in a preachy way. Yes, going green will save the planet. But most people are more interested in the bottom line than in being an ecological caped crusader. Going green will save your business money.
Doing the right thing will make you more profitable.
This comes about in a number of ways. You can reduce your waste disposal costs, which brings down your running costs. You can turn some of your waste into cash, increasing your profits. And once the word gets out that you are genuinely green, your reputation within your community will improve, bringing in new customers and cementing existing customer loyalty.
When we at CEC helped The Maryborough Hotel in Cork achieve zero waste to landfill, there was a profitable side-effect. They reduced their total waste by more than a third. Think of that in terms of your own business. What do you spend annually on waste disposal? Take a third of that and move it from loss to profit. That is how you save your business money.
Innovative cost saving ideas
Waste management can be expensive. On an average it comes in at around 4% of turnover. But in some sectors, such as grocery retail or hospitality, this can shoot up dramatically. So careful management is needed to bring it under control.
It begins with a proper waste audit, so that you know exactly what you are disposing of, and in what quantities. Armed with the data, you can come up with a plan.
Landfill is expensive, so your first step is to see if you can reduce or eliminate your waste to landfill. This means looking at recycling. Your food and organic waste can be composted. The compost can be sold or donated. Then separate out your recyclables. The initial cost of recycling is dearer than landfill, because recyclables have to be processed, whereas landfill is just buried unsorted. But the long term cost of landfill grows, because the dump site has to be monitored for years or decades, with the gasses of degeneration being vented, and toxic waste leaching into the soil having to be dealt with. In contrast, there are no ongoing costs associated with recycling.
Perhaps some of your waste can be reused. You could even sell on unneeded but still useful bits of equipment. Old office furniture might be your junk, but could be someone else’s treasure. And if heavy equipment needs to be scrapped, metal fetches good money in scrap yards. A bit of imagination can turn dross into dosh.
Going paperless is a great cost-saving tip. A memo can be printed and dropped on every desk, or just emailed to employees. Reports for meetings can be read on screen as well as put into costly folders. It’s all about making choices that save you money. If you can turn that 4% of turnover into 2.5%, that goes into your bottom line.
How can a large company save money?
With a large company economies of scale come into effect. A small business with a handful of employees can buy one box of biros at wholesale cost to get through the year, rather than buying new biros every time one is needed. The savings will be in coppers. But if a multinational with thousands of employees bulk buys their stationary at reduced cost, their savings will be significant. And the savings to the environment will be ramped up. A few deliveries a year as opposed to several small deliveries every few weeks, and less packaging.
A large company also has the option of separating out combustibles and using those as a source of biomass to generate heat or power. Waste then becomes a raw material for energy production, a move towards a more circular economic approach.
Large companies can build their premises using the most modern architectural approaches to produce passive buildings that take no energy to heat. They can invest in a fleet of electric vehicles to keep fuel costs down. If the planning is done from the start, huge savings can become the norm.
A good place to start is the low-hanging fruit. Go for easily achievable objectives that produce an immediate saving. Many companies have a centralized purchasing system for office supplies. They recognise that a large chunk of waste comes from office supplies. With a central purchasing system you can limit the purchase of supplies, and reduce redundant purchases, bringing down overall costs.
Then store the supplies in a central location where staff can easily access them, and leave them back when they are finished with them. This is important. You don’t want to buy a paper punch every six weeks, because it has been lost in someone’s drawer. Staff have to seek out supplies in the central store, and can only submit a purchase order if the item required is not already on the premises.
If every member of your staff is committed to the process, you will find you spend less on new purchases and reduce the waste your business produces.
Does it work? Fairview Health Services, a Minnesota healthcare company that runs two hospitals and two office buildings, saved over a million dollars in office supply costs in two years, and a further $300,000 in office furniture costs. They also reduced their waste by seven tonnes a year. So yes, it works.
How can waste disposal save money?
A good waste disposal strategy will reduce the amount of waste you produce. This will have an immediate effect of reducing your waste disposal bill. But that is just the start.
Once you are in control you start reusing items instead of just dumping things that are still useful. That will reduce the amount of new supplies you need to purchase. More savings.
You will also find that some of your waste is actually saleable. You can make money from it. So you are reducing costs, saving money, and making money. Each of the changes you make might only produce a small improvement in your bottom line, but all the small improvements add up.
Every business owner understands there are two ways of making money. The sexy way is to indulge in wild speculation and strike lucky. But the sensible way is to manage your business so that you don’t leak money through bad management. Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.
Call us at CEC and we can help you get started, by doing a waste audit, then using our specialized software to stay on top of your waste disposal. It is one area where you can really save your business money.