Property managers already know that there’s one particularly unglamorous part of the job that takes up more than its fair share of time—waste management. Whether it’s a single, multifamily building or an entire portfolio of properties dotted throughout a city (or even state), managing the challenges surrounding the effective and efficient disposal of waste requires input at all stages of the chain and must include all stakeholders.
However, while these challenges may, at times, seem insurmountable, there are in fact, a few elements that can be implemented to ensure waste management is less of a headache and something that everyone can be involved with. Here then, we take a look at five best practices that can be integrated into any property management operation to encourage better waste management for all stakeholders.
Understand Your Buildings
Whatever the size of your portfolio, or the mixture of tenant types, understanding the “habits” of individual buildings and the types of materials generated is key. Often, this will mean creating a profile of each building’s habits, then dropping down another level to identify the habits of each tenant type.
These profiles should include the volume of waste, the types of waste, and how these are currently being disposed of or recycled. Additionally, you should include facts such as container placement and building access, allowing you to identify where and how materials are disposed of and collected. If you cannot manage this alone, then there are other options available to ensure you can quantify your sustainability goals and understand where you currently stand.
Introduce Better Material Management
Today, waste management is about much more than simply dumping trash into a single container. We now split materials into multiple trash cans which are then collected by separate haulers at different times. With this in mind, optimizing material management and its routes through your building/s is critical to building an efficient system.
Color coding schemes that clearly identify where and how waste should be disposed ensure all stakeholders are on the same page—allowing the efficient separation of materials by cleaning teams, tenants and building managers. Additionally, ensuring everyone is aware of collection days so that waste materials can be promptly disposed of is also very important, bringing greater efficiency when removing materials from the premises.
Reach Out to Stakeholders
The bottom line is that stakeholders are waste generators and engaging them in the process of waste management is a great way to increase management efficiency while also reinforcing stakeholder responsibility. Visit your stakeholders and speak to them about their current habits and how they might be improved. Ask them about how disposal and recycling can be made easier for them, and always open up the floor to new ideas or thoughts.
There are numerous benefits to this approach. Firstly, stakeholders feel heard, allowing them to have a say in how they inhabit the buildings. Secondly, following that feeling of empowerment, recycling rates are likely to increase. Finally, there can be commercial benefits too, with a reduction in waste weights essentially driving down the cost of waste management for everyone involved.
Today, managing waste streams within the property management industry is made all the easier by the development of new technologies designed to track and report on waste generation and distribution. Put simply, data-driven insights give you the tools you need to identify where waste can be reduced while at the same time providing metrics on where waste is delivered so you can meet local sustainability legislation and goals.
Regular reports here are key, giving you a holistic overview of your building’s needs and where improvements can be made. Additionally, detailed metrics can give you insights into where materials are delivered, ensuring recyclables make it to the right facilities and allowing the organization of things such as food, clothing, or furniture donation.
Spend Time On-Site
If despite the introduction of these best practices your waste management targets are still not being met, then either visiting your respective sites or appointing a “waste guru” can make a significant impact. This individual can take responsibility at all stages of the chain, either spending more time educating tenants or, at the other end of the spectrum, simply ensuring waste materials are correctly cleaned and sorted.
On-site management is among the most effective approaches when reducing waste, but it also provides an opportunity for tenants to give and receive feedback on a face-to-face basis. Clear communication across all sites and for all tenants is often enough to push things in the right direction, and even if you do have to spend some time on site, this is unlikely to be over long periods.