Are you interested in lowering the carbon emissions generated by your business? Do you want to do things smarter and be a good corporate citizen?

Reviewing what’s in your business’ wastestream periodically is a useful exercise as waste can be a symptom of inefficient processes and not all waste is “rubbish”.

Using all resources efficiently reduces the impact on the environment and improves your business’ financial bottom line. How much money could your organisation save by rethinking the disposal of its rubbish?

Local services are available for collection of

Local drop-off for waste to landfill


  1. Printed matter – Immediately save 50% of your paper usage by setting your printer and photocopier default settings to double-sided printing. While you’re at it, set the default to black and white too.
    Share publications – set up a distribution list with relevant staff names on it. When an employee has read the publication they pass it to the next person on the list. Your organisation instantly saves on subscription costs and reduces the number of magazines going into the recycle bin. Find out if the publisher offers an email version of the publication.
    Request all invoices and statements from suppliers in email format.
    Recycle outdated letterheads and non-confidential printouts for in-house memos and notepads.
    Greetings! Send your favourite customers e-cards this festive season. Tell them about the donation you made in their name to a charity, with the money saved.
  2. Purchase products in concentrated form or in bulk – by purchasing products in concentrated or bulk form you are immediately reducing packaging waste and you may get a cheaper unit cost rate. Ask if the supplier will take back the containers for recycling. Choose environmentally-friendly products.
  3. Provide reusable cups, dishes and cutlery in your staff kitchen or cafeteria – while disposable cups and plates may make it easier to keep the kitchen clean, they are not good for the environment. Introduce washable cups, plates and cutler with a policy of “you use it – you clean it” and this will reduce your waste to landfill.
  4. Use a mulching mower – to eliminate the need to dispose of grass clippings from groundskeeping.
  5. Donate – used equipment, furniture and supplies to schools and charitable organisations. There are a number of organisations within Whanganui region that welcome all forms of equipment and furniture. Search the ReSource database.
  6. Recycle – implement systems within your organisation. Staff will be used to recycling at home and will find it easy to separate paper and cardboard, tins and cans, plastics and glass. Read about the business waste audits undertaken by Sustainable Whanganui Services.
  7. Reduce paper towel usage – show staff the “shake and fold” method. Here’s an excerpt from a TED talk (an oldie but goodie!).
  8. Talk to your suppliers – and discuss how they can help your organisation reduce waste by providing merchandise in returnable, reusable or recyclable packaging. Ask for electronic invoices, statements and credit notes etc rather than printed copies.
  9. Purchase recharged copier, printer and fax cartridges Check with the manufacturer to ensure the refillable cartridges operate in their product. While you have them on the line, check to see if they recycle their used cartridges.
  10. Compost – buy a bench-top composting system for the staff kitchen and start collecting food scraps from staff meals.



There’s nothing like a forensic investigation of your organisation’s waste to tell you what’s really happening!

Check out the Sustainable Business Network for resources and advice. The “SBN Carbon Calculator Resource Sheet” provides a useful overview, as does this article on calculating and reducing your company’s carbon footprint.

Here is link to a Do-It-Yourself “Business Waste Audit Guide

Locally, Sustainable Whanganui Services (SWS) has undertaken 11 business waste audits within diverse organisations in the Whanganui region:

  • Department of Conservation office
  • St John’s Club
  • New World
  • Axiam Plastics
  • Mitre 10 MEGA
  • Whanganui Girls College
  • Pacific Helmets
  • DML Construction
  • Wanganui Motors
  • YMCA
  • Whanganui District Health Board

These organisations were invited to participate in the waste audits, representing a range of business types: manufacturing, supermarket, hospitality, office, retail and medical.

SWS believes the business waste audits have been successful in the following ways by

  • raising awareness of the components of each organisation’s wastestreams
  • highlighting the volume of waste being sent to landfill which could be diverted
  • offering alternatives which these organisations may have been unaware of, or too busy to investigate themselves.

When calculating volumes for diversion from landfill SWS felt they erred towards a conservative estimate that between 10-50% of waste could be diverted by these organisations. Using a 240L wheelie bin as the common denominator this means collectively diverting 14,000 wheelie bins per year from these 11 organisations.

The process: The SWS team held an initial meeting with each organisation to learn about its operations, staffing and current situation regarding handling of waste, and to discuss the audit process.

A tour of each site was undertaken to meet with key staff, cover any health and safety considerations and see the location suggested for the actual waste analysis. The audit date was then set.

On audit day, wastestreams were analysed and photographs taken to capture representative volumes to inform the calculation of diversion from landfill and cost savings. An interim report describing the audit findings was then sent to each participant, with a followup phone call to elicit feedback. It was heartening to learn that SWS’ discussions and visits had already effected some positive change in a couple of these organisations. The SWS team then consolidated waste items into a research list with a view to finding as many opportunities to recycle, repurpose, re-use as possible, or finding environmentally-friendly alternatives to products being used. A final report was then sent to each organisation offering conclusions, and describing an estimated % volume saving of waste which could be diverted from landfill, and the concomitant reduction in wheelie bin/waste skip/compactor charges which could be realised.

Feedback: the final reports were well-received by the participants who offered the following comments.

“This (audit) report is a great resource. It has given us a lot of ideas which we would not have thought of on our own. I am environmental champion here so I will be following through on most, if not all, of the recommendations. (This process) would be a great help to many more businesses in Whanganui.”

“The report went into a lot more detail than I expected, and I appreciate all the research into alternatives with links to follow to information on the internet. It’s good having tools like the report to share with staff so they understand why it’s important to put waste in the correct bin. Waste reduction is a long term project for our organisation. Waste from all our departments, one in particular, has much improved. Both the interim report and final report went into more detail than I was expecting, and even the interim report was helpful on its own.”

“I am happy SWS has a good understanding of where (our organisation) is at. I accept we don’t do quite such a good job at the moment, but we are keen to do a better job if given the tools and help. I believe we could easily reduce our waste to landfill by 50%, possibly more.”

“There is value in having an independent report to present to staff to enable and encourage them to be more sustainable.”

“The report has highlighted some key areas we can make changes in terms of recycling … The suggestions in the recommendations around these areas was very helpful and will assist us in making a decision on how we implement change.”

“We feel the audit was a fair representation of the waste from our organisation, and the pictures where not surprising. We appreciate you noted that we send ex-displays and product to kindergartens and clubs to reduce waste, and your information regarding the repurpose centre here will assist in ensuring we continue to reduce the amount going to landfill.”

“Being a part of this feasibility study has made us more conscious of our waste disposal processes, it has opened up the discussion on ways we can be more sustainable and through this we are putting together a strategy to better improve our processes.”

Organisations wishing to explore business waste audit opportunities can contact Sustainable Whanganui Services at or on 021 02 333 863.