Where there's waste, there's opportunity: 10 waste management strategies from SWRnewstar
The way a business manages its waste is not simply about supporting environmental best practice, it can help drive commercial sustainability too. But only if it’s approached in the right way.
It’s all about changing our mindset.
10. Challenge the common model
Typically, UK companies’ waste management strategies focus on the cost of removing the waste generated. But the real opportunity comes from focusing on the processes in the business that lead to waste being generated in the first place. If this can be minimised then, not only will upfront purchasing costs reduce, but the cost of disposal also decreases.
9. Encourage behavioural change
By analysing their supply chain organisations can identify where they are generating waste. Shifting thinking from ‘waste to dispose of’ to ‘resources to manage’ can be useful. Education around the recycling process can help ensure items are segregated correctly. Food is a good example, many people don’t realise that any food left in packaging contaminates the paper and cardboard in the recycling bin leading to that whole bag of material going in landfill.
8. Incentivise/reward good practice
Often the message “that it’s the right thing to do” isn’t enough to engage all stakeholders with recycling schemes. An additional way to help get more people on board, especially over multiple sites or in multi-use properties is to share the recycling results and compare performance. Integrating messaging about recycling into internal communications channels champions those who are doing well.
Numbers and statistics help to bring the campaign to life. For example, if one floor within an office building has segregated waste well and has increased recycling rates, organisations can apply monetary values to demonstrate the cost savings and circulate the messaging. However, once there is the initial engagement, it’s important to be consistent with the approach so that initial enthusiasm to make positive changes is maintained.
7. Regularly re-evaluate
A proactive approach is important to ensure ongoing improvement. The re-evaluation of recycling strategies presents companies with an opportunity to not only eliminate wasteful practices and lower costs but also boost profitability.
6. Look beyond the price-per-lift
There’s a common tendency for procurement teams to benchmark providers on a basic metric of ‘price-per-lift’. This creates tendering processes that are narrowly focused on disposal costs and that typically culminate in contracting the provider with the lowest price-per-lift.
There are other ways to reduce waste and recycling costs. For example, reducing the overall volume of waste produced leads to lower disposal costs. Focus on diversion from general waste; recycling collections for glass and food are cheaper than disposing of these resources into general waste. For businesses handling large quantities of valuable materials such as metals or high quality card introducing processes which effectively segregate these can generate rebates. Partnering with a waste management company that looks beyond ‘lift rate’ can bring significant benefits.
5. Seek flexibility
Flexibility is another quality to look for in a waste management partner. The price of lifting a half-full bin is no different to the price of lifting a full one, linking collection schedules with the times that most waste is generated is the best option. A waste management partner who is flexible will build a recycling solution which is custom-designed to fit your business irrespective of location, waste type or collection restrictions.
4. Leverage partnerships
Making the most of partnerships can be pivotal to the success of a waste management campaign. Local authorities, charities, other local businesses and suppliers all have a potential role to play. One example of an innovative way of leveraging partnerships is working with local charities who can make use of things like furniture and fittings when properties undergo renovations.
3. Talk about plastic
With climate change and sustainability continuing to dominate the news, collaborative work is required across all stages of the supply chain including; packaging manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, as well as consumers, waste collectors and recyclers.
Plastic remains a serious challenge, particularly single-use plastic. In April 2022, the government will introduce The Plastics Tax. The tax will apply to plastic packaging that is made from less than 30 per cent recycled material. DEFRA’s current consultation is reviewing exactly which products will be covered; it’s proposed that bio-plastics and compostable plastics, not just the petroleum-, polymer-based plastics will be covered.
While 2022 may sound far away, it is not actually that long for retailers and manufacturers to change their packaging production and internal processes.
2. Review the wider business agenda
A number of countries are placing restrictions on the recyclable materials they will import. With China and India leading the way, the UK faces a conundrum of not knowing how or where we can move their plastic, cardboard and other materials. The most viable option is to build more domestic infrastructure to be able to reprocess the recyclable material whilst proactively reducing the volume of material being created.
This two-stage approach can also be adopted by businesses. Firstly, to identify avoidable waste and implement processes to minimise it. Secondly, maximise recycling of unavoidable waste.
Shifting legislation is going to change the agenda around recycling over the next few years and businesses have an opportunity to get ahead early.
1. More flexible circular models are emerging
The government along with many businesses and consumers are working to build a truly circular economy, starting by designing out as much waste as possible. This affects more than just the waste and recycling sectors – it impacts manufacturers, product designers, and procurement teams. Focussing on ways to reduce, reuse and recycle is becoming relevant for more and more people.
Waste management can no longer be seen as a low priority utility or narrowly defined as an exercise in corporate social responsibility. By assessing the route of the problem, organisations can make informed choices and implement changes that reduce costs. A useful mantra is ‘resources not rubbish’.
SWRnewstar is recognised for delivering its innovative range of waste management and recycling services to some of Britain’s biggest businesses, whilst being the only waste broker to manage and encourage behavioural change throughout its customers’ internal teams.
NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience
Joey Dean, the man with the coolest name ever and Managing Director in the healthcare consulting practice for NTT DATA and is focused on delivering workplace transformation and enabling the future workforce for healthcare providers. Dean also leads client innovation programs to enhance service delivery and business outcomes for clients.
The pandemic has shifted priorities and created opportunities to do things differently, and companies are now looking to build more resilient supply chains, none needed more urgently than those within the healthcare system. Dean shares with us how he feels they can get there.
A Multi-Vendor Sourcing Approach
“Healthcare systems cannot afford delays in the supply chain when there are lives at stake. Healthcare procurement teams are looking at multi-vendor sourcing strategies, stockpiling more inventory, and ways to use data and AI to have a predictive view into the future and drive greater efficiency.
“The priority should be to shore up procurement channels and re-evaluate inventory management norms, i.e. stockpiling for assurance. Health systems should take the opportunity to renegotiate with their current vendors and broaden the supplier channel. Through those efforts, work with suppliers that have greater geographic diversity and transparency around manufacturing data, process, and continuity plans,” says Dean.
But here ensues the never-ending battle of domestic vs global supply chains. As I see it, domestic sourcing limits the high-risk exposure related to offshore sourcing— Canada’s issue with importing the vaccine is a good example of that. So, of course, I had to ask, for lifesaving products, is building domestic capabilities an option that is being considered?
“Domestic supply chains are sparse or have a high dependence on overseas centres for parts and raw materials. There are measures being discussed from a legislative perspective to drive more domestic sourcing, and there will need to be a concerted effort by Western countries through a mix of investments and financial incentives,” Dean explains.
Wielding Big Tech for Better Outcomes
So, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, leveraging technology is another way to mitigate the risks that lie within global supply chains while decreasing costs and improving quality. Dean expands on the potential of blockchain and AI in the industry.
“Blockchain is particularly interesting in creating more transparency and visibility across all supply chain activities. Organisations can create a decentralised record of all transactions to track assets from production to delivery or use by end-user. This increased supply chain transparency provides more visibility to both buyers and suppliers to resolve disputes and build more trusting relationships. Another benefit is that the validation of data is more efficient to prioritise time on the delivery of goods and services to reduce cost and improve quality.
“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is another area where there’s incredible value in processing massive amounts of data to aggregate and normalise the data to produce proactive recommendations on actions to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of the supply chain.”
Evolving Procurement Models
From asking more of suppliers to beefing up stocks, Dean believes procurement models should be remodelled to favour resilience, mitigate risk and ensure the needs of the customer are kept in view.
“The bottom line is that healthcare systems are expecting more from their suppliers. While transactional approaches focused solely on price and transactions have been the norm, collaborative relationships, where the buyer and supplier establish mutual objectives and outcomes, drives a trusting and transparent relationship. Healthcare systems are also looking to multi-vendor strategies to mitigate risk, so it is imperative for suppliers to stand out and embrace evolving procurement models.
“Healthcare systems are looking at partners that can establish domestic centres for supplies to mitigate the risks of having ‘all of their eggs’ in overseas locations. Suppliers should look to perform a strategic evaluation review that includes a distribution network analysis and distribution footprint review to understand cost, service, flexibility, and risks. Included in that strategy should be a “voice of the customer” assessment to understand current pain points and needs of customers.”
“Healthcare supply chain leaders are re-evaluating the Just In Time (JIT) model with supplies delivered on a regular basis. The approach does not require an investment in infrastructure but leaves organisations open to risk of disruption. Having domestic centres and warehousing from suppliers gives healthcare systems the ability to have inventory on hand without having to invest in their own infrastructure. Also, in the spirit of transparency, having predictive views into inventory levels can help enable better decision making from both sides.”
But, again, I had to ask, what about the risks and associated costs that come with higher inventory levels, such as expired product if there isn’t fast enough turnover, tying up cash flow, warehousing and inventory management costs?
“In the current supply chain environment, it is advisable for buyers to carry an in-house inventory on a just-in-time basis, while suppliers take a just-in-case approach, preserving capacity for surges, retaining safety stock, and building rapid replenishment channels for restock. But the risk of expired product is very real. This could be curbed with better data intelligence and improved technology that could forecast surges and predictively automate future supply needs. In this way, ordering would be more data-driven and rationalised to align with anticipated surges. Further adoption of data and intelligence and will be crucial for modernised buying in the new normal.
These are tough tasks, so I asked Dean to speak to some of the challenges. Luckily, he’s a patient guy with a lot to say.
On managing stakeholders and ensuring alignment on priorities and objectives, Dean says, “In order for managing stakeholders to stay aligned on priorities, they’ll need more transparency and collaborative win-win business relationships in which both healthcare systems and medical device manufacturers are equally committed to each other’s success. On the healthcare side, they need to understand where parts and products are manufactured to perform more predictive data and analytics for forecasting and planning efforts. And the manufacturers should offer more data transparency which will result in better planning and forecasting to navigate the ebbs and flows and enable better decision-making by healthcare systems.
Due to the sensitive nature of the information being requested, the effort to increase visibility is typically met with a lot of reluctance and push back. Dean essentially puts the onus back on suppliers to get with the times. “Traditionally, the relationships between buyers and suppliers are transactional, based only on the transaction between the two parties: what is the supplier providing, at what cost, and for what length of time. The relationship begins and ends there. The tide is shifting, and buyers expect more from their suppliers, especially given what the pandemic exposed around the fragility of the supply chain. The suppliers that get ahead of this will not only reap the benefits of improved relationships, but they will be able to take action on insights derived from greater visibility to manage risks more effectively.”
He offers a final tip. “A first step in enabling a supply chain data exchange is to make sure partners and buyers are aware of the conditions throughout the supply chain based on real-time data to enable predictive views into delays and disruptions. With well understand data sets, both parties can respond more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.”
As for where supply chain is heading, Dean says, “Moving forward, we’ll continue to see a shift toward Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to optimise the supply chain. The pandemic, as it has done in many other industries, will accelerate the move to digital, with the benefits of improving efficiency, visibility, and error rate. AI can consume enormous amounts of data to drive real-time pattern detection and mitigate risk from global disruptive events.”