Good corporate environmental sustainability does more than save the planet.  It also saves money!  More New Zealand businesses could save millions by thinking strategically about the waste they create.

Effective corporate environmental sustainability starts by changing a business’s buying habits.

Unfortunately this message is not getting through. Our team collects heart-breaking amounts of perfectly serviceable office furniture, fittings and equipment that is destined for the dump. On one hand it’s good business for us when organisations want to get rid of items that are surplus to requirement. However, it gives us no pleasure to see how much money so many businesses are literally throwing away.

In one office clearance case, we were contracted to remove a huge – 24 m3 – consignment of brand new, high-quality point-of-sale displays, still in their unopened flat-packs. The eight-tonne load was enough to solidly pack a large shipping container and had originally been bought at a six-figure cost.

A sustainable waste removal expert loading a truck full of office furniture to be reused.

The company did not care what happened to the displays; it just wanted them gone.

As Auckland’s most sustainable waste management company, we do what we can to reallocate all the old office furniture, construction waste and other things we collect.  Where possible we donate goods to charitable partners and other environmentally sustainable channels. Only the worst of the worst is sent to landfill.

In the case of the unused displays, we gave them to several social sector organisations.  They are now in not-for-profit retail outlets nationwide.  

It was a good outcome for the recipients but a huge waste of money for the company that bought the displays. We see many situations like this. 

Money often wasted in office clearances

Too much of what we’re paid to take away are poor-quality products that haven’t lasted – the classic false economy trap. Businesses also miss the chance to re-use items elsewhere in the enterprise. It’s common for us to be handling products that have never been used.

The business waste problem often stems from penny-pinching procurement practices that don’t consider whether the purchase is necessary in the first place. Nor do people join the dots on what happens to items throughout their life-cycle.

Penny-pinching might look good in performance reports but it usually fails to take account of the purchase’s true cost to the company.  For example, bargain-priced office chairs aren’t a bargain at all when taking account of how quickly they break and need to be replaced.  Not to mention the added cost of storing and then getting rid of old and broken furniture.

Six steps to corporate environmental sustainability

Most businesses would save themselves many thousands of dollars – even millions – from applying joined-up thinking to all purchases, by:

  1. Considering whether the purchase is needed in the first place. If it is, then consider what quantity is viable from economic and environmentally sustainable perspectives.
  2. Buying well and buying once. Choose quality products.  These might cost more upfront but represent a better investment over time.
  3. Regarding every purchase as eventually being a waste product. Consider what will happen to it eventually, where it will go, and what the disposal costs will be.
  4. Reporting that ensures clear accountability at every stage of the product’s life-cycle. Do this by way of enterprise-wide KPIs, targets and incentives for waste.
  5. Identifying opportunities to re-use or re-allocate items that are no longer needed by their ‘owner’ within the business.
  6. Tracking unwanted item build-ups so that they can be disposed of sustainably. Avoid “waste emergencies” created by storage space, clutter, auditing or health and safety issues.

These principles apply from the most basic office supplies to the biggest fit-outs.  They are a financially and environmentally sound strategy for all types of business.  

If your business is starting a waste removal discussion with ‘I don’t care what you do with it, just get it out of here’, then we can guarantee you are highly likely to be throwing your money away – literally. And if that’s what you choose to do, then give us a call so that we can find new homes for your office junk, construction rubbish, etc.

Want to know more? See us commenting in Stuff.