Waste Not, Want Not: Edge’s Own Journey to Zero Waste

At Edge, we’re an organisation that very much tries to walk the talk. We’re a BCorp and have set our own Science Based Target (one of Australia’s first). Our team members are also personally committed to sustainability, taking a variety of different steps to minimize their own environmental impacts.

Hands-on sustainability & unanimously agreed best ever view for a waste audit by the team.

As part of our internal sustainability drive, we have had a long-standing commitment to waste minimization and recycling. Alongside all the normal recycling streams we also make an effort, for example, to recycle soft plastics at our local Coles, batteries at the Aldi across the road, and keep our worms well fed with organics. But how well are we doing in practice?

Taking full advantage of waste’s recent place in the sustainability spotlight, a few of the team were conscripted to sustainability’s dirty side and we undertook an audit our own week’s waste generation.  Cofounder Tom Davies led several team members to measure its composition and identify potential opportunities for improvement.

Our office of 16 generated a total of 8.62kg of waste/recycling (for week 18-24thJune), of which we recycled 91%. National average recycling rates in commercial offices are ~45%, while data from NSW EPA’s Bin Trim program and the National CitySwitch program indicates that a waste generation in commercial offices can be as much as 711kg/yr per 100m2, or 118kg/yr per person. In that light, our estimated 450kg/yr per 100m2 (30kg/yr per person) seems pretty good, right?

Total waste stream composition (co-mingled, organics, soft plastics and paper were recycled).

However, despite us being a team of committed sustainability professionals, 44% of our week’s general waste was found to be recyclable – i.e. was incorrectly disposed of by staff. Rogue elements included paper, items of soft plastic and food scraps. Whatever the reasons, there is clearly some room for improvement there.

EDGE’S ZERO WASTE CHALLENGE:

Spurred to action by our findings, and as a company always up for a challenge, we decided that we’re going to aim to remove our (one and only) general waste bin from the office on 1 January 2019 in a challenge to go “zero waste”. A simple enough-sounding goal, but one which actually requires a complex combination of changes to our procurement, staff education and behavioral change to come true.

We look forward to sharing our failures and successes with you, and we’ll keep our blog updated with progress. Our first challenge is creating a roadmap to improvement, and review the consumables procured for the office. Wish us luck, and let us know if you’re in the midst of anything similar: we’d be only to glad to share our experiences and to learn from others.

Edge’s everyday invertebrate miracle workers/industrial ecologists enjoying the sunset over the harbor.
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