Waste guidelines point to wider role for corporate waste managers

New Guidelines for Company Reporting on Waste have introduced standards for corporate waste management which the Government hopes will lead to improved environmental reporting. If implemented, the guidelines could see companies seeking increasingly sophisticated data on waste as well as equipment capable of weighing and segregating waste.

Michael Meacher, UK Environment Minister, announced the publication of Guidelines for Company Reporting on Waste at Environmental Technology 2000, in Birmingham. The guidelines on waste follow those for reporting on greenhouse gas emissions. Guidance for reporting on water use is scheduled for this autumn.

The waste guidelines argue that improved reporting on waste will allow companies to know more about their waste production and management, providing them with the opportunity to improve their systems and save money. “Companies often underestimate how much their waste costs them,” states the guidelines.

The guidelines suggest an eight-step plan for improving waste management. The steps are:

  • choose a person with authority as ‘waste champion’ to identify waste streams, collect data and create a waste management and reporting strategy
  • categorise waste produced according to sector – the guidelines provide a list of the “most significant waste streams by industrial sector”
  • measure waste – here the guidelines point out that contracts with waste managers can be negotiated to include detailed information about waste weights and contents
  • review what is being done with waste, focusing first on the waste streams with a significant environmental impact
  • set targets for improvement – these can be reductions in waste production, reduction in waste going to landfill. The guidelines suggest companies use a forthcoming benchmark tool from the Environment Agency, which will provide “lists of the types of waste produced by similar companies” as well as information on the cost of other waste management options
  • identify the benefits of changes – the guidelines suggest that the greatest benefits are likely to be reductions in purchase costs as raw material consumption becomes more efficient, and lower waste management costs through lower tonnages and less hazardous waste production. The guidelines are realistic about the likelihood of companies making money from their waste, stating only that “it may be possible to establish a market for materials which you would otherwise have to pay to dispose of”
  • report on the outcome of the changes – the Government wants to see improved corporate reporting on waste and points to award winning environmental reports (see related story)
  • repeat the cycle

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