Refuse waste

Zero waste conventions tackle waste by following the logic of the 5 R. It removes most of the waste in an order allowing to address the biggest culprit first and moves onto less effective methods to recycle the leftovers of the waste removal process.

A way to understand the necessity for eliminating waste is through the concept of invisible water. There is a lot of waste invisible to the end customer that has been created before you buy a material. The concept of invisible water is a comprehensive account of the water that is necessary to produce an item that you will not see. For instance, to create 1 kg of plastic you need 185l of water, to grow 1 single almond you need 4.5l of water.  There is also the transport of those raw resources, their processing etc to be taken into account when improving your waste amounts. This water may be required in a country that is water scarce so it is putting even more pressure on local water resources. A deep audit of your waste needs to take into account all of those factors. If you consider these facts, you easily understand why every wasted item is many wasted resources.

To know the water required for your products you can use this calculator.

A kg of banana emitted from 324g to 1 124kg CO2e

Refuse, reduce, repair, recycle, rot


Firstly, refuse your own waste. Don’t create useless waste, view it as a resource and a need to get the most output from the lowest input.

Look at the waste you get handed. From trial products you never needed to low quality items, challenge your suppliers and their products when they showcase wasteful practices. The interfaces between trading partners in your supply chain are waste hot spots.

Take time to assess whether your quality requirements and standards are the same as the suppliers in your supply chain. This will strengthen your business relationship and ensuring that, moving forward, communication is smoother.

If you keep on rejecting a high percentage of your suppliers’ products, you will want to reassess whether your vision of excellence is the same. It is a great time to change supplier if you are reviewing your practices and strategy too! Many companies are being created putting sustainability at the heart of their business. Your last benchmarking for this supplier could have left them out because they did not exist yet or because greener products was not a concern of yours. Rethink your partnerships to find companies that align to your values, it will allow you to move towards your goals with your suppliers rather than against their will.

When looking at your SC downstream question the requirements of your customers. I would argue that in this day in age no one wants waste. For purposeless waste like triple wrapping of your goods, JUST. SCRAP. IT. For “justifiable waste” we shall discuss it in the next post.


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