Our current system of manufacturing places the responsibility of the disposal of products with the consumer. Instead of the end-of-the-line disposal of products, the Zero Waste principle focuses on a “whole system” approach to waste management.
A whole system approach is one where manufacturers take on the responsibility for the life and disposal of their product rather than leaving it solely to the consumer.
What is Product Stewardship?
Product stewardship (also called Extended Producer Responsibility) places more focus on the “front-end” by encouraging manufacturers to be responsible for how a product is made, packaged and disposed. Manufacturers are also encouraged to produce products made from recycled materials and to design products to have a long life-span and to be easily recycled or reused.
What are the Benefits of Zero Waste Manufacturing?
- Reduces waste disposal fees.
- Contributes to the sustainability of your industry.
- Creates a more efficient production process.
- Saves money on production costs.
- Generates positive public relations image for the company.
How can my Company Become a Zero Waste Manufacturer?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides resources to implement Zero Waste in your company, please review The Lean and Green Supply Chain: A Practical Guide for Materials Managers and Supply Chain Managers to Reduce Costs and Improve Enviromental Performance.
The Guide to Green Purchasing
The purchasing department of a company plays a crucial role in the elimination and diversion of waste. Purchasers make decisions about what types of materials are brought into a facility and work closely with suppliers. Here are some suggestions to assist purchasers to strive toward Zero Waste:
- Work with suppliers to use reusable shipping containers.
- Work with suppliers to return shipping pallets.
- Work with suppliers to utilize reusable, washable cloth rags for maintenance and production.
- Steer clear of materials that are hard to recycle or do not biodegrade easily such as polystyrene (a.k.a. Styrofoam).
- Use bulk storage methods to eliminate the use of packaging materials.
The Packaging Problem
Packaging can be made more sustainable by applying Zero Waste principles. This means:
- Eliminate toxic constituents.
- Use less material.
- Make packaging more reusable.
- Use more recycled content.
- Make packaging more readily recyclable.
Educate Your Customers
Let your customers know the steps your company has taken to go Zero Waste. Being a socially and environmentally conscious company can help to promote your business.