The international container terminal operating company APM Terminals implemented global waste management standards across all of its operations one year ago.
The first tangible results from the company’s head office are now available and provide a clear indication of the significant impact this is having on reducing the company’s environmental impact.
APM Terminals issued new Waste Management Standards across its global operations in September 2018. The standards not only provide clear guidance on how waste can be treated or disposed of in a more environmentally sensitive manner, but more importantly, help identify opportunities to prevent or reduce waste, re-use it, or recycle it.
A focus on waste prevention at the company’s head office in the Hague, for example, resulted in individual bins being removed from each desk, with one central waste recycling point for each area. In just one year this simple action has resulted in 91,000 fewer plastic bin bags being used. This is enough plastic to build a path around 60kms long.
Since the introduction of the standards, more than 90% (180 tonnes) of the waste removed from the company’s head office is now recycled.
The key to the success of the standards is that they are not overly prescriptive. Around 50 waste streams commonly found across the company’s operations were identified and the three most environmentally-friendly management methods for each waste stream were applied.
These methods were determined based on the waste management hierarchy, which starts with preventing or reducing waste if possible, followed by re-using or recycling, and landfill or incineration as a last resort. The 50 waste streams ranged from used cooking oil to energy efficient bulbs, and from metals to paint.
For each waste stream, the most suitable method for on-site collection was identified. The standards also included clear guidelines for waste signage using a standardised colour coded system to make the waste type, stream and hazardous nature clearly recognisable.
The standards don’t only cover waste management inside the company’s terminals and offices. They also stipulate that waste contractor sites should be regularly inspected and that the chain of custody of waste from APM Terminals to the final point of disposal is confirmed.
Going forward, the emphasis for the company’s terminals will move to ongoing use of the waste hierarchy to identify additional ways to eliminate waste streams, as well as finding options to increase reuse and recycling of waste streams through local contractors.