Zero waste programs mean minimizing waste in everything an organization does. Before setting out on implementing a program, facility cleaning executives will want to take the following three steps to set a strong foundation of success for the initiative.

1. Look at the waste stream. It’s about eliminating waste and saving money. Steve Ashkin encourages facilities to do a Dumpster dive and sort through the garbage as part of sales training events — donning proper PPE is essential. Once everything has been pulled out, it should be easy to identify what’s in the waste stream.

“If the vast majority are paper towels from the bathroom, then that highlights a major project to work on,” says Ashkin.

2. Understand that trash is local. Talk to area waste management companies and peers to understand what types of recycling, composting, waste diversion and monetary compensation options are available.

Talk to many different waste haulers and encourage competition. By shopping around for the best rates for aluminum, white paper and other commodities managers can get staff excited and engaged in the process.

3. Set goals and report progress.

“Once you embark on your zero waste journey, you can get a real marketing benefit, in addition to savings,” advises Ashkin.

Once cleaning managers have a baseline and know how much waste is produced, they can really set goals to reduce it. These goals should be not only diversion-focused, but also financial.

After a goal has been set, let everyone within the organization know about it. For ASU, that goal is a huge element of their zero waste success.

“We have a goal that everybody looks to and in setting that goal, we draw out strategic plans that almost look like that reverse flow of materials,” says Levine.
Remember that the success of any waste program depends on the engagement of every building occupant and staff member.

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