Introducing a new monthly column by Jeanie McKillop (pictured) of the North East Waste Forum. Jeanie’s articles will help businesses reduce waste and save money …

North Coast businesses will be getting a lot of advice over the coming months on how to reduce the impact their businesses are having on the region’s environment. 

The North East Waste Forum, through its Business Waste Reduction Project, is aiming to raise awareness in the commercial sector of recycling, resource recovery and waste minimisation. 

Through the Far North Coaster, the project’s co-ordinator, Jeanie Mckillop, will outline simple yet effective ways to reduce your waste and improve your business’s environmental credentials.

In many cases, it can even save you money.

Reducing waste means reducing carbon emissions, so participating in this initiative and making just one simple change will have a positive effect on the region’s environmental footprint.

The topic for this month is one of the most common components of waste in many office-based businesses; paper and cardboard. 

Paper and cardboard is recycled across the region with collection provided by local councils or contractors through a 240 litre wheelie bin or a bulk cardboard bin. 

Putting cardboard or paper in with your mixed waste does not make economic sense as collection costs are far less for these products than your general waste. 

Unfortunately, many businesses in crowded central businesses districts do not have an opportunity to use a bulk bin or even share one with neighbouring businesses as there is no space available in some complexes and no rear access for a truck. 

This highlights how important it is to consider waste management when new buildings are designed.

The mantra of waste minimisation is reuse, reduce, recycle and then dispose.

There are many ways an office can reduce its environmental impact beyond simply recycling. 

The tips below outline just some of these.

Reduce the amount of paper by double-sided printing – if this isn’t an option, use single-sided waste paper as note pads.

Buy recycled copy paper – these days it is guaranteed to be as good as virgin paper and the cost difference is increasingly marginal. If you can buy Australian you support our recycling businesses and reduce the carbon emissions generated by shipping from overseas.

Send memos and correspondence electronically where possible.

Think before you print – you can always print additional copies as you need them.

Keep mailing lists up-to-date so you can minimise waste correspondence.

Australians used 1.23 million tons of paper in 2002 – that’s about 30 million trees. 

Producing a ton of recycled paper saves 32,000 litres of water, 4000 kilowatt hours of power, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4 cubic metres of landfill space and 27kg of air pollution.

It creates 8 ton of green house gas emissions to produce a ton of paper from trees and less than 2 tons to produce the same amount from existing paper products.

So choosing recycled paper means your business contributes enormously to a better environment and reducing the amount of paper you use saves you money.

The North East Waste Forum offers an extensive range of information on its website to assist business, event organisers, environmental educators and the general public.

* Jeanie can be contacted at business@northeastwasteforum.org.au