About Zero Waste
What is Zero Waste?
The definition of zero waste according to the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) is as follows:
“Zero waste: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”
At its core, zero waste takes aim at our “take, make, and waste” approach to production and consumption, encouraging a more circular approach to the way we use resources. On its most basic level, this means that the goal of zero waste is to push economies towards the target of sending no waste to landfill, incinerators, and the ocean. (www.zerowaste.com)
Is Zero Waste possible?
Zero waste is not merely an end goal, but a set of guiding principles that strive towards eliminating waste at any and all stages of the chain. From resource extraction through production to consumption and management of discarded materials, the aim is to close the loop, redefining the entire concept of waste and ensuring resources remain in use for as long as possible before being returned to the earth with little to no environmental impact. (www.zerowaste.com)
What are the advantages of Zero Waste for my business or organisation?
The advantages of going Zero Waste are multiple. Here are a few benefits that Zero Waste can bring your business or organisation:
Improved brand image
Healthier workplace through limited exposure to toxic substances
Employee engagement, attraction and retainment
Development of new revenue streams
Donor and investor attraction
Less time, money and efforts spent on waste management
Reduced running costs
Network of like-minded people
Awareness-raising of the general public
Why is Zero Waste better than recycling?
The goal of Zero Waste is much broader than recycling, aiming to reduce or eliminate waste at the source rather than deal with it later. It also aims to increase circularity across production systems, making everyone involved with a particular product (or service) responsible for potential waste and its integration back into the loop.
In essence, Zero Waste focuses on product design, examining where waste can be eliminated through a hierarchal set of principles: “Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”—In that particular order.
Recycling is a part of the Zero Waste hierarchy, though low on the list of priorities since the Zero Waste concept aims to eliminate waste rather than deal with it. Recycling still has a big part to play in the way we manage waste—both now and in the future, with recyclable materials playing their part in reducing waste and valuing resources.
Recycling systems and composting are designed to take waste products and turn them into something useful. As a concept, it’s an excellent idea, helping us to reclaim materials after use, however, the sheer range of different materials and products in use today means that recycling has inefficiencies and operational challenges, especially here in Cambodia.
In terms of recycling, resources are also expended at both ends of a product’s lifecycle, i.e. those used in manufacturing and those used during end-of-life-processing. This stands in stark opposition to the Zero Waste concept that aims to conserve resources at the manufacturing stage and then integrate them seamlessly back into the loop—completely avoiding “end of life” wherever possible.
In short, recycling is behind in its capacity to deal with both waste already in existence and of that being created daily. (www.zerowaste.com)
What is greenwashing?
Greenwashing is essentially when a company or organisation spends more time and money on marketing themselves as being sustainable than on actually minimising their environmental impact. It’s a deceitful advertising method to gain favour with consumers who choose to support businesses that care about bettering the planet. Greenwashing takes up valuable space in the fight against environmental issues, like climate change, plastic ocean pollution, air pollution and global species extinctions.
I am interested in joining the Zero Waste movement but I do not know where to start as an individual or as a company/organization….
As an individual, I would recommend to consult the numerous internet resources that are available to get started with Zero Waste.
If you are lost, you can always apply this methodology: first, analyse and quantify your waste output and identify which waste items are the most recurrent: these are the ones that you will need to find alternatives to as a priority. Also identify the waste items which you know you could get rid of easily without much effort, these too will be your priority. Then, take each waste item separately and ask yourself: is this product really important to me or can I do without? If not, are they ways I could reduce this kind of waste by changing the way I shop or by switching to a more eco-friendly alternative for example? Are there any reusable items that could avoid having to generate that kind of waste? If not, are they ways I can reuse this kind of waste for something useful instead of throwing it away, or could someone else use it? If you are not able to eliminate that particular waste type, then it’s time to look for recycling or composting option in order to keep it out of the landfill.
As a business, the method is the same, but often businesses do not have the time and human resources necessary to conduct such an analysis and to research eco-friendly alternatives and recycling options. If this is the case, you can count on us as we’ll be able to get you on the path to Zero Waste in no time and with long-lasting results.
About Little Green Spark and our services
Is it easy to start doing business with Little Green Spark?
Very easy! Just drop us a message through our website, email address, Facebook or Linkedin page and we’ll get back to you, suggesting a first meeting or assessment visit. Following this meeting or visit, we will develop a tailored quotation for you. If you accept the quotation, we’ll discuss the best time for the intervention and get started as soon as possible!
Is little Green Spark working in other countries ?
No, for the time being, Little Green Spark is only active in Cambodia. If you however have a business or organisation outside of Cambodia, try to see if there are Zero Waste consultants or organisations working in your country. If this isn’t the case, you can always reach out to us and we will try to find an arrangement.
Can you cater to companies and organisations all over Cambodia?
Yes, we are able to intervene in businesses and organisations all across Cambodia. However, as Little Green Spark is originally based in Phnom Penh, travel and/or accommodation fees will be applied for interventions outside of Phnom Penh.
My business is in a fairly remote location in Cambodia (i.e Koh Kong or Ratanakiri). Can I still expect to collaborate with Little Green Spark ?
Yes, we can cover all areas of Cambodia. Just remember that housing and transportation fees will apply.
Are you able to cater to any kind of industry?
Yes – our clients include a wide variety of organisational structures, from hotels, restaurants, schools, NGOs, international organisations, tourism destinations, the service industry as well as manufacturing. Zero Waste and its guiding principles are applicable to any kind of industry.
Are they any requirements on the part of the company or organisation that chooses the one-month coaching package?
Yes, the company or organisation will need to constitute a “Green committee” who will be in charge of the implementation of the project in the long run and who will be Little Green Spark’s main interlocutor for the duration of the consultancy. We recommend to constitute a team of three to fifteen people maximum (depending on the size of your structure) who are interested in the subject of waste and motivated in contributing to implementing changes within the structure. Participation in the “Green committee” should therefore ideally be voluntary. The people chosen to constitute this team should be a mix of management and staff including support functions such as finance, HR and purchasing.
How much time would I be expected to dedicate as client of the one-month full package ?
For the duration of the consultancy, the “Green committee’s” presence and availability is required for key activities, especially for trainings and for the planning workshop. In total, the “Green Committee” should be available for the equivalent of about 3 full working-days over the one-month consultancy period.
Following Little Green Spark’s intervention, the Green Committee will need to continue the implementation as well as the monitoring of the project. Depending on the extent of the project and the options chosen, the “Green Committee” will need to spend on average the equivalent of one half-working day on the project per month.
Can you make a tailor-made service package ? I want to collaborate with Little Green Spark but I am not sure if any of the four solutions perfectly suit my diverse needs.
Of course. All our services can be adapted to your needs and motivations. We will be able to discuss these during our first meeting or during the first assessment visit and based on our discussion we will prepare a tailored quotation for you.
I already have extensive experiences and capacities in the Zero Waste journey but I want to go even further. What collaboration may I consider with Little Green Spark ?
For businesses and organisations which are already somehow advanced on their Zero Waste journey, the real value of Little Green Spark’s services lies in the extensive research we have conducted to apply Zero Waste principles in the Cambodian context and to constitute a directory of local eco-friendly businesses as well as of recyclers who will be able to help you to reduce your waste generation and to keep more of your waste out of the landfill.
Why aren’t any of your services prices online?
Because they depend on the size, needs and nature of the enterprise or organisation. In order to determine the price of the service, we will first have to conduct an assessment visit in order to evaluate your company’s or organisation’s needs. It is only on the basis of the results of the assessment visit that we will able to tell you exactly how much the service will cost.
Do you have any educational background on Zero Waste?
As the demand for Zero Waste services have started to increase only in the last few years, only very few trainings and certifications are available as of today. However, I have been certified Zero Waste Associate of Zero Waste Canada and am also a certified TRUE advisor by the Green Business Certification Inc., which allows me to assist businesses and organisations wanting to undergo the TRUE certification.
Will you be able to provide references of local suppliers for eco-products and recyclers?
Yes, Little Green Spark has constituted a national directory of local recyclers and eco-friendly businesses, which can help you reach your waste reduction and diversion objectives. These contacts will be shared with your business or organisation as part of the serviced offered in the one-month coaching package. A formal introduction can also be arranged.
Are you able to deliver any Zero Waste certificates?
We are as of today unable to deliver any internationally-recognized Zero Waste certification. However, our services can help you prepare for a variety of sustainability certifications as they will help you to improve your waste generation and management practices and therefore to become compliant with certification standards on waste. We also have a specific service for companies wanting to be come TRUE-certified.