Feeling inspired by Waste month in October? Want to keep the momentum going and decrease your Office waste every month?

Well, you have come to the right place! As many organizations plan their return to office workspaces, we collectively have a unique opportunity to implement new, more sustainable business practices. A sustainable future is important to the global economy, and waste reduction and diversion play a major role in achieving sustainability!

How composting works

When food waste ends up in a landfill, it produces greenhouse gas emissions that have harmful effects on the earth. Composting is an easy way to prevent this. It begins with turning food waste and other organic waste into rich fertilizer. Microorganisms decompose the waste and create a natural fertilizer that can be used to enrich soil. This process produces almost no greenhouse gases –  much better for the environment!

Why should you compost at the office?

Beginning to compost in your office can be an exciting new way to become more sustainable while also helping your business grow. When a business decides to take a step into creating a more sustainable workplace, it becomes more attractive for both existing and potential employees. Green initiatives can be used in your organization’s marketing strategies which could actually help you land more clients or customers, especially in the wake of a global pandemic when the public is looking to businesses to “build-back-better” and invest in more environmentally and ethically sound business practices.

Every business wants their workplace productivity to increase, and composting may be the key to that success. A study completed by Dr. Chris Knight of Exeter University explained that adding one houseplant per square meter of the office space can increase workplace productivity by up to 15%. Composting within the office can help these plants grow and flourish because you can turn food waste into fertilizer for your workplace greenery. This will keep your office plants nice and healthy, which has the added benefit keeping productivity levels high. To be even more sustainable, the extra compost can be used for outdoor plants as well. Producing your own compost can cut down on costs that would take to maintain these flowers, while also giving employees an opportunity to feel more connected to their workspace.

Saving your business money while saving the environment is always a win-win. Composting can save a significant amount of money in disposal costs of regular waste within your organization. Global waste is a growing problem in our world and is expected to increase from 3 million tons of waste to 6 million tons per day by 2025. On a local level, an organization of just 20-25 staff generates, on average, over 600 pounds of organic waste in just one year! 

Waste haulers often charge by volume. Introducing a composting program will decrease the volume of waste sent from your organization to landfills, resulting in cost savings. Since it often costs to collect and haul organics as well, businesses can look into partnering with local farmers or gardeners. This creates a mutually beneficial relationship since they spend less money on expensive fertilizers, pesticides, water, and irrigation. It has also been shown that compost has a higher yield rate and can produce more crops and create more jobs in the community. 

Where to start

Not sure where to start? Regional Sustainability Members have access to support for waste assessments, and waste diversion target setting. By assessing your current waste footprint, and tracking your current waste sent to landfill prior to implementing a composting program, you can monitor the true impact of your waste diversion efforts, and make continuous improvements and targeted reductions. As you plan your return to office, we are here to help your organization understand your waste data and set a realistic target for waste diversion going forward.

Tips for success

  • Understand your current waste footprint with a waste assessment
  • Check your contracts with current waste haulers to determine if an annual waste assessment is included in your fee
  • Set a waste diversion target to help keep your reductions on track and report publicly on your successes
  • Get multiple quotes from organics haulers or look into free partnership opportunities with local farmers or community gardens for a low cost disposal option
  • Ensure employees are engaged and aware through broad communications about your proposed target and the launch of any new waste diversion streams
  • Ensure employees and anyone using the waste disposal system are aware of your hauler’s organic collection dos and don’ts
  • Ensure proper signage is present near the new compost bin, clearly identifying what can go in and what cannot
  • Ensure maintenance and operations staff are aware of the new changes
  • Find ways to incentivize participation and encourage employee engagement throughout implementation 
  • Have fun with it!

About the author:

Katherine KyrkosKatherine Kyrkos is an intern supporting the Waterloo Region Sustainability Initiative team.