Waste is generally defined as unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use. (Wikipedia). There are few people who do not agree we should try to eliminate waste where we can as part of a larger environmental concern and many of us recycle at home and are more conscious of how we use everything from carrier bags to energy.
In a business context, eliminating waste means using only the resources absolutely required of the business to perform successfully. This can be applied to everything from office lighting being on with no one present, to printing copious minutes for meetings with few attendee,s to unnecessary product packaging across the supply chain. In other words, there is no longer an organisation which should be without measurable targets to eliminate waste.
At a global level, as a planet of 195 nations we seek to manage and sustain our resources for the good of our societies through a set of agreed UN (193 nations) Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) otherwise known as Global Goals. This is then devolved to nation states which provide a national big picture approach via the 17 key overlapping sustainability goals, which are themselves underpinned by targets.
Within a nation state, it becomes the matter of need for organisations to underpin national and therefore global sustainability goals through practical and tangible sustainability actions and policies that match and meet the targets of the SDGs.
A nation state cannot realistically have any chance of meeting SDGs if the businesses within its borders are themselves freely operating in an unsustainable and wasteful way. Businesses are generally populated with workers, these workers themselves must assist in ensuring their businesses are sustainable and as waste-free as possible if goals are to be achievable.
In every aspect of our business life, organisations are starting to look at whether they are a sustainable business and yet the actual day-to-day approach to reducing business waste sadly remains largely ignored or at best only applies to the most visible or monitored aspects of business life. There are a number of potential reasons for this including.
- The elimination of waste is not underpinned by core business strategy nor seen as critical
- Boards are slow to develop a viable core sustainability strategy
- Sustainability ownership is either in the hands of a singular role and isolated to only targeted business operational areas or else is distributed too thinly across management teams and lacks coordination and quantification
- Manufacturing and engineering are slow to adapt to change due to immediate supply chain requirements or lack of investment
- Sustainability compliance and its policies are yet to be developed that affects all business areas
- Policy compliance remains an occasional tick-box training task that employees have little vested interest in
- Shared buildings devolve waste ownership away from the hands of a single organisation
- Manual processes have yet to become digital and continue to waste resources
- Employees are unable to identify common activities and the environments in which they operate as wasteful when performing daily duties
There are of course many other reasons as well. The overall effect is to say to an employee, well if no one else is bothering why should I.
To make the point, walk around any town or city centre of a night time and look at the amount of active office lighting. In major cities the business areas are illuminated almost all night with only cleaners present. Walk through any office and look at the piles of unwanted print-outs abandoned by printers. Take a look at the waste in offices from coffee cups. That is before we go anywhere near business activities themselves. In other words, business waste is ubiquitous and it remains largely unmeasured.
The big picture regarding waste elimination is where Sustainability Development Goals play their part. However the practical detail in achieving those goals is down to how employees support their sustainable organisations on a daily basis – not annually as many organisations currently treat employee compliance. Therefore success in eliminating waste lays in consistent and constant business sustainability compliance where policies regarding all aspects of the daily elimination of waste are critical.
Currently a great deal of organisational compliance activity can be wasteful including but not limited to manual and outdated training methods. Moving to digital compliance for sustainability and waste elimination will help drive change rapidly across the organisation. This can be achieved by the following:
- Move to a cloud hosted digital compliance solution
- Provide new and updated sustainability compliance policies digitally with emphasis on waste elimination
- Leverage an active read and comply solution that confirms digital acceptance and adherence via real-time reporting
- Move to digital sustainability / waste reduction training content and align with the digital compliance process
- Ensure that sustainability digital compliance is ubiquitous, highly visible and daily accessible
- Move from annual sustainability compliance to continual digital sustainability compliance with real-time reporting
- Benchmark waste elimination targets as quantifiable values
- Measure employee sustainability compliance statistics to refine digital training content and then measure again
- Measure and and quantify employee digital compliance against the waste reduction targets across a wide range of business areas
- Report quarterly to all staff on the progress of waste reduction and how each employee is contributing to the core sustainability strategy
Eliminating waste helps the bottom line of an organisation and ensures better use of resources but it cannot occur purely from grand ideas and big picture concepts – it requires digitization of the employee compliance process with constant measurement and reporting and the time to start is today. No one said it was easy to become a fully sustainable business but that is no reason not to change. With the latest digital compliance solutions such as Orchestra Read and Comply® it has never been easier to drive sustainability policies forward and start to eliminate waste.
Get in touch to find out more about how Orchestra Read and Comply® by Signarus can help your organisation eliminate waste through digital policy compliance. Call us on (UK) 0207 788 9445 for a demonstration.