Waste Management Plan
Strategic planning for a comprehensive waste management plan includes 10 essential steps to either creating or enhancing your waste management program:
- Understand your waste streams. For each waste stream, understand all regulatory considerations; who is responsible for each internally, how is each handled, what are the policies and procedures, who are the waste haulers.
- Measure/baseline current waste generation. Establishing a baseline against which future reductions will be measured is an important first step in tracking progress. You cannot measure what you don't know you have, nor can you set reasonable goals or report on successes. Data measurement and management are essential components of a sustainable program.
- Complete a facility-wide waste operations assessment. Internally, assess waste and recycling container placement, color coding, and labeling. Poorly placed, unlabeled containers will ensure contamination. Externally, assess waste equipment utilization to maximize efficiencies and hauls to reduce costs and transportation impact.
- Build teams, get leadership support, assign dedicated resources.Creating a multi-stakeholder sustainability or green team with representatives from departments that share responsibility for the purchase, management and/or disposal of particular waste streams. (We also highly recommend dedicating resources toward a "waste coordinator.").
- Set targets/ goals It is important to set both short- and long-term reduction goals for waste minimization and integrate them into a meaningful and achievable waste management plan. Target setting allows an organization to establish reasonable, SMART goals that are consistent with a basic, intermediate or advance approach. Finally, the target goals will inform which performance improvement measures to implement to achieve the goals.
- Develop strategic action plans for improvement. The Roadmap performance improvement measures list is designed to help you pick and choose projects to help you meet your goals.
- Ensure regulatory compliance across all waste streams. It's no easy feat, but it is not optional.
- Adopt integrated waste management policies and procedures for each and every waste stream.
- Track, measure, and report. It's important to begin to track waste reduction measures for several reasons: (1) to verify they are meeting the intended goal, (2) to track cost and operational savings, (3) to monitor staff satisfaction, and (4) to report on all of these successes, or failures, to inform your next steps and give you traction as you prepare for the next project. Use newsletters, regular reports to leadership (a quarterly sustainability dashboard report card works well), e-blasts and other communication channels to keep staff and the community informed of your commitments and progress.
- Train, educate, and celebrate. Users must be educated of the reasons for any changes, trained on work practice changes, and informed with ongoing feedback to how the action plan’s progress is meeting the goals. Training and education is both formal, with specific learning objectives, (compliance or policy-related training should be documented), and informal with educational materials that includes posters, information sharing in newsletters, e-blasts, and a variety of media. Informed staff are engaged staff. Recognizing individual and collective efforts through awards or other recognition programs also provides opportunities to celebrate and communicate the valuable work being accomplished. Don’t let a success go unrecognized.