One way to deal with the issue of waste is by reducing waste by increasing efficiency. Another approach is changing how we think about waste – could it be used elsewhere? Would someone else consider the waste from our production a commodity?
Environmental specialists at our production facility in Mørdrup in Denmark began to bring this kind of thinking into our waste management processes. Traditionally, we pay waste handlers to take our waste and then it’s out of our sight. Some is recycled but most is incinerated. However, to break with tradition, we made a tender for handling our waste that had a 50/50 weight on environmental and financial performance - normally, the environmental performance would weigh 5-10%.
As anticipated, this encouraged the waste handling companies to recycle more. If they were able to reuse the waste elsewhere or extract raw materials from it, they could make a more competitive bid. The company that won the contract managed to do just that. For instance, they were able to extract silver from waste generated by our wound care production. This way, the silicone that had previously been considered waste now became a commodity that could be of use somewhere else.
The results of this process were significant. After rethinking waste handling, the production facility at Mørdrup was able to reduce costs per tonnes of waste by 35% in one year. In addition, the total recycling of waste increased by 67% from the financial year 2012/13 to 2014/15.