What do waste management consultants do? Waste management Consultants are involved in waste auditing, creating a waste minimization strategy and implementation of that strategy. They usually work for large firms, large office buildings, shopping malls and municipalities. They are engaged to help their clients reduce the amount of trash that gets created saving them money in waste disposal costs and decreasing their impact on the environment at the same time. The savings usually cover the cost of hiring them many times over.
What is waste minimization?
Waste minimization is about categorizing types of waste and working with each category to reduce the amount of waste from the most harmful to a less harmful category. This is illustrated well in the hierarchy of waste pictured below, where you can see the most harmful and least desirable category at the bottom of the pyramid is landfill, and the most desirable and least wasteful at the tip of the pyramid is prevention. So a decision in the design process of a product where less materials or packaging will be required in its ultimate production would be an example of prevention because the resources that might otherwise have been brought into the consumptive process with alternate design choices are prevented from being used. On the other end of the scale are choices around how landfill is treated where modern landfills are routinely set up to capture the inevitable release of energy from that waste in the form of methane capture for use in the energy sector. Clearly while both efforts make a difference in terms of benefit to the environment and reduction in waste, the first is obviously more significant because it stops waste being produced right at the beginning of the life cycle of a product and therefore reduces its impact the entire waste minimization hierarchy. Waste minimization when it’s done properly takes into account the life cycle of all the resources involved, from when and where they’re first obtained whether that’s from mining or farming and what’s involved to get it out of the ground or grow it in the first place, then all through its useful life to where it’s ultimately finished its life cycle, what is referred to as cradle to grave analysis.
What is involved in waste auditing? Well it’s a dirty job….
Auditing involves taking a days worth of trash, laying it out and sorting it into categories, weighing it and documenting the results. Auditing is done both at the beginning of the job and after a waste minimization strategy has been implemented.
Waste Minimization Strategies.
A waste minimization strategy usually involves implementation of a combination of education and physical resources for example better signage, more bins for recycling and campaigns for specific issues such as plastic use once water bottles and disposable coffee cups, which account for a significant proportion of waste and are relatively simple to replace with more environmentally conscious alternatives.