Updated 10 October 2019
In October 2019, Officeworks was named as a Banksia Sustainability Award finalist for improving recycling rates across the WA region.
The Banksia Sustainability Awards are the longest-running sustainability awards in Australia aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of global goals to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and protect the planet. Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency, Sydney, on Tuesday, 3 December 2019.
Learn more about the award here.
Two years ago Officeworks began working with Cleanaway for recycling and general waste services for 170 sites, including retail stores, distribution centres and support offices. Officeworks already had recycling services in place, however in 2017 only 64% of all waste generated was being recycled. In just two years, through tailored waste profiling informed by waste audits and close engagement with Officeworks’ management, staff and Cleanaway resource recovery specialists, Officeworks increased their recycling rates to 88% in the WA region, and at the same time decreased the amount of waste sent to landfill by 16.3%.
How did Officeworks get to 88% diversion?
Underpinning Officeworks’ progress is their commitment to working towards zero waste to landfill, which is part of their Positive Difference Plan 2020 that was launched in 2015. Recycling rates have formed part of the company’s strategic objectives each year, including achieving 85% recycling rate by June 30, 2019.
In order to achieve the long-term target, finding a strategic partner was crucial. “We needed to work with a waste and resource recovery partner that understood what we were trying to achieve, that had the strategic capability to help us get there and was able to be responsive to our changing needs” said Ryan Swenson, Head of Sustainable Development.
Back in 2017 when the partnership began, Cleanaway Resource Recovery Specialist, Manny Manatakis, worked with the Officeworks team to learn as much about Officeworks’ waste profile as possible. This included store walk-throughs, interviews with store managers and staff, and visual bin assessments to identify waste sources, disposal behaviours and opportunities for better waste management.
After the initial site assessments, Manny worked with the Officeworks team to implement changes that were able to quickly shift behaviour practices resulting in improved outcomes.
“After analysing store data and profiles provided by Cleanaway, we made the decision to reduce the collection frequency of general waste bins across a number of stores. This had the immediate impact of driving better choices about waste disposal as our team had less opportunity to fill the general waste bin. Our teams quickly saw their recycling rates lift 12 percentage points, into the 80%.” Swenson explained.
The Cleanaway customer service team played a role in facilitating all service schedule changes, which is an ongoing process as stores continue to reduce their general waste services as recycling rates increase. Likewise, stores are now reviewing their general waste bin size to reduce it to sizes that better reflect the needs of the stores.
“We have some stores now that are considering moving to a 240lt general waste bin, as they are recycling well into the 90%. We are constantly assessing and reviewing the service schedule profile and bin infrastructure to execute this efficiently, and we need a waste provider that can support this level of service and change.” Swenson says.
Cleanaway Resource Recovery Specialist Manny Manatakis with National Account Manager Ryan Chhajed and Officeworks’ Head of Sustainable Development Ryan Swenson
The journey towards zero waste
Following the service schedule changes, Cleanaway and Officeworks set about developing a waste and recycling workshop, which involved Officeworks team members spending a day at a Cleanaway facility. The objectives of the workshop were to:
– Obtain insight into store waste and potential for improving diversion
– Position teams to achieve 90% diversion in 2019
– Build knowledge among employees to help stores align with Officeworks strategic goals
Cleanaway Resource Recovery Specialist Manny Manatakis, and National Account Manager Ryan Chhajed, worked with staff and regional managers from Officeworks stores around Perth to sort through eight general waste bins. While some Officeworks stores in WA were already recycling above 80%, the workshop was designed to show teams how diversion of 90% and above was easily within reach.
The teams were asked to evaluate results, including reasons why recyclable material like cardboard, white and shredded paper, polystyrene, clear LDPE plastic film, commingled waste, stationery and furniture were found in the general waste bin, and what should be done differently in the future to improve recycling.
The employees demonstrated great enthusiasm during the workshop and many were surprised to discover how much waste could actually be recycled. In one example, an audit of a 3m general waste bin resulted in only three 60L tubs of waste collected and everything else was recyclable.
The team now plan to move to 1.5m general waste bins to increase recycling and better match their service to their requirements.
Phil, Officeworks Joondalup Store Business Manager said, “It was great to attend the recent Cleanaway workshop, it further opened my eyes up to recycling.”
“In store this morning, I did exactly what we did at the workshop. The cleaner had five large bags of rubbish to be disposed of, so I donned the gloves and eyeglasses and went through each bag. At the end of the exercise there was only half a bag that went into the general waste bin, the rest was recycled.”
The staff that participated in the workshop felt inspired to make a change in their stores and personal lives. More than just sorting waste, it was also a great team building exercise. Participants took back what they learnt to their own stores and reflected on opportunities to do better in their recycling efforts.
Cleanaway will continue to work with Officeworks to identify opportunities to increase diversion, improve recycling behaviours and optimise services, working towards the zero waste target for 2021.
“Involving our team in the waste audits help them to understand the opportunity for us to continue to reduce our environmental impact, which is supported with a target which all of us can work towards” Swenson says.
Is your business reaching its diversion targets? Contact us to learn how your business can make a sustainable future possible. Or read how we help our customers look at food waste in a different way.