The Importance of Education in Waste Management
Before we can help the planet, we must be well-equipped to make informed decisions about how our actions can have a positive impact. As waste and recycling experts, Smart Waste emphasizes education from a holistic perspective; if every employee, student, or community member knows the correct methods for individual waste disposal, the ripple effect can be significant.
As a company, Smart Waste focuses on education as the first step to any successful waste management program. The verticals that receive education services are comprehensive; whether the business is high tech, real estate, construction, food services, manufacturing, or school systems, every industry can benefit from improved waste management plans and smarter zero waste initiatives.
So, to begin: what is a waste management program, and what does zero-waste mean?
Waste management focuses on every aspect of trash, from equipment leases to full program implementation for waste sorting, recycling, hauling, and trash removal. Depending on the industry, the amount of waste and the type will be vastly different; whether it be proper disposal of electronics or simply knowing what can be recycled, awareness is the first step to positively impacting the environment.
Education affects the perception of waste within an organization, which ultimately leads to zero waste programs; this involves recycling and composting and considering the entire life cycle of a product. By keeping resources in the supply chain through reusing and recycling, waste management programs become increasingly simplified and economically attractive. Studies find that, in general, trash disposal costs a lot. By implementing three different waste streams and avoiding contamination, organizations will save money, move towards zero waste, and positively impact.
Smart Waste’s education services teach the whole organization how to dispose of waste properly and why waste management is a critical practice. Once organizations know how to compost, recycle, and practice zero waste initiatives, waste management programs run themselves; the time and money spent on thorough education quickly pays for itself. Although proper waste disposal can save companies thousands of dollars on contamination fees, pickups, and correct bin sizing, the benefits of becoming more educated extend far beyond an organization’s bottom line. Education in waste management programs enables better planning for the long-term and effective implementation of comprehensive programs.
Waste Management Education: What goes where and why?
Waste management education aims to reduce solid waste and increase diversion through recycling and composting. To better understand how a waste management program can impact your organization, data must be collected on the different recycling and composting programs in your area, current invoices and contracts must be reviewed, and site visits should be conducted to perform audits. This information is then presented to the organization with recommendations for best practices and contracting improvements.
Best practices include knowing what goes where; this requires education and awareness. The organization can be creative about generating continuous awareness through the creation of sustainability chairs or green teams, diversion contests, award programs, or hosting information sessions on items that can be diverted from the landfill through the practice of composting and recycling. Contracting improvements include identifying compatible waste, recycling, and organics services that favor the organization over the hauler. Bringing in an expert like Smart Waste can help facilitate these changes and develop better waste management practices.
Our world is a fascinating place, and having a deeper understanding of the waste we produce is key to preserving the planet’s health. Education can come in many forms; one of Smart Waste’s initiatives is through a podcast channel. Trash Magic covers plastic pollution, paper products, clothing and textiles, food waste, and even complex products like batteries, lightbulbs, and paint. In each episode, the discussions address questions that every person eventually asks themselves: where does stuff come from, and where does it go when I throw it out?
The podcast also covers a significant player in proper waste management called Material Recovery Facilities, or MRFs. The significance of MRFs is the impact they have on reducing the amount of material that enters a waste stream and lessening the demand for raw materials. These facilities sort municipal trash and recycling programs to ensure every item is entering the proper stream; whether an object takes up space in a landfill depends on MRFs and individual consumption, use, and disposal.
Creating a circular economy, where resources are kept in the supply chain, depends significantly on individual and collective action. Once people understand the impact of their actions, they are more receptive to eliminating single-use items and adhering to an organization’s waste management efforts. As a collective, becoming aware of the use and management of resources helps people reduce their consumption and support waste diversion. The greatest capacity for change within any waste management program falls under the influence of education; awareness improves processes, leading to smarter waste management programs that support a circular economy.