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BTS’ War on Waste: Thinking globally; acting locally

Date: 02nd August 2017     Category: Blog



Of all the hot topic conversations around the world right now, the environment is pretty much top of the list. Whether it’s a personal or business viewpoint, acting responsibly when it comes to managing the waste we create is one area that should be a focus for us all.

My family and I have been watching a program on the ABC, War on Waste, which focuses on the amount of waste we create as a society. Some of the causes of this excess are just ridiculous when you think about it, however the search for solutions is also driving innovation and opportunities for business. The program has inspired me to write about the program we run in my company, Business Technology Specialists (BTS).


The journey starts with you


We’ve had a program focusing on reducing waste to landfill for 10 years at BTS. It all started from a discussion I had with a client. I was asked what our policy was on recycling and the environment as our client was looking to compare us with the market. When I explained our policies and practises, the feedback was that it wasn’t enough.

I did some research and what I saw was that a lot of companies were advertising manufacturers programs around the environment. While those programs are important they’re not locally focused.

I relayed this information to our client: He’s passionate about the environment and is well connected in the Geelong community. Using his connections he put us in touch with an organisation working with the City of Greater Geelong Council – Waste Wise.


Focus on local


What joining the Waste Wise program enabled us to do was to really understand the steps we needed to take to drive down waste, particularly around landfill. While our business has moved significantly into business process and information management, our traditional core business is still the supply of MFD’s, copiers, printers and Managed Print Services (MPS) to business. And that business creates waste in a variety of ways, including paper, cardboard, and polystyrene. We took the approach of starting from scratch with our own war on waste and decided to tackle to problem head on. We started by looking at three major points: What could we reduce, reuse and then last recycle from our business waste?

We made reducing waste a business wide initiative, with our program, which we called Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, focused on what we can do in the Geelong region. As a management team we set up the right environment for it to happen: We created processes that enabled our team to easily reduce our waste as part of their daily operations.


Not just our waste


The interesting thing in our business is that’s not just our waste that we take care of but our customers too. A huge percentage of the waste we collect comes from a customer’s site. This can be in the form of used spare parts, waste toner bottles, packaging, and used toner bottles.

We utilise the Close the Loop/Planet Ark recycling initiative to recycle all out customer used toner/waste toner bottles. It’s a great program and a highly successful one too.

With spare parts, we know that when we service a machine, it’s likely that there will be some part changes. Rather than simply dumping those parts and the associated replacement part packaging in a clients’ rubbish bin, we return this material to our depot. It then goes through our internal recycling programs.

The best part is that by recycling all of this we’re ensuring that our customers’ waste is also kept out of landfill.


What do we reduce, reuse, and recycle?


Our Thinking Globally, Acting Locally program covers a variety of areas:


Paper and cardboard


We worked with a local social enterprise, St Laurence, to handle all our paper and cardboard recycling to eliminate wastage in this area. The program is now run through a contracted organisation and it’s been crucial to helping us tackle this area.


Polystyrene


While people may not know it – this stuff is actually recyclable! We work with a local organisation, GDP Industries, who won a Government grant to purchase a compacting machine to shred polystyrene. This shredded product is then used to manufacture lightweight pavers to be used in construction projects. The end product is lighter and cheaper than many other alternatives. Most importantly is takes polystyrene out of landfill and sees it reused in a sustainable way. GDP are a great partner in that they’re a not for profit who’s main aim is to improve the lives of people with a disability by offering employment opportunities. We think this is fantastic and something we wholeheartedly support.


Toner bottles/spare parts/packaging


As mentioned earlier, this forms a big part of our recycling effort and as such is a core area of focus in our program.


Metal, plastic and timber


For any metal waste we ensure that this is reused and recycled through a local partner Sims Metals.

With plastic, we manage this waste in a few different ways. For hard and soft plastic, we work with GDP again to recycle this.

We have a unique challenge around timber pallets: Our print devices are delivered on two different types. One type is a composite product, which makes it hard to recycle, so we work with another local business that re-uses these pallets in their operations. The other type is timber based and we provide it free as firewood to be used locally.

The point of all this is was to target all the possible areas of waste within our business that would otherwise have ended up in landfill and where possible, support other local businesses in delivering environmental and social initiatives.


It will deliver an outcome


For BTS we’ve found it makes perfect economic sense: Reducing, recycling and reusing is actually cheaper than sending waste off to landfill.

More importantly, it’s become a core part of our culture. We made sure to get buy-in from our team when we started this 10 years ago. We came up with a variety of reasons why it was important to the business, but the reality was our team jumped on-board pretty quickly. The general feedback was: We do this at home, so why not at work? All we had to do was focus on providing the tools and processes to make it easy.

My advice to think globally; act locally. Its on all of us to join forces in the War on Waste, it really will make a difference to our businesses, our communities, and our future.

Author: Stan Corner