Tailoring Earth Works: presenting the course in the workplace
This document aims to help Earth Works organisers and trainers adapt the course content and style for running the course in a workplace. There are two typical situations in which this might happen. As a trainer or organiser you might:
- decide to approach your managers about running a waste minimisation course tailored to the needs of your own workplace
- be asked (or apply) as a consultant to run a course in a workplace.
This guide aims to help you in both situations.
Running an Earth Works program may follow an environmental review or be part of implementing an Environmental Management System (or Plan). However, the Earth Works program will not necessarily be suitable for every workplace. The nature and style of an Earth Works program for the workplace will be determined by:
- the nature of the organisation, its type and level of waste etc.
- levels of commitment from management and staff to achieving outcomes and targets in waste minimisation. These might be established during initial discussions about running a course or through the company undertaking an environmental review or audit
- in larger organisations, the extent of cooperation across sections or teams
- the extent that people responsible for the building, organisation and waste management will cooperate to enable systems for separating waste to be set up
- level of commitment to an organisational ethos of continuous improvement (awareness of how the organisation can do better, use of incentives, awards, other motivators)
- the level of interest and commitment to waste reduction within the industry sector to which the company belongs
- staff time available for outreach (in the workplace the outreach component could be implementing changes in waste management procedures).
Before undertaking an Earth Works program, many organisations will require a brief overview of waste issues and staff training about waste avoidance and management.
Back to top
Special aspects of the workplace context
A growing number of organisations have saved money by introducing waste minimisation policies and programs to cut their energy use, water use and solid waste. Many industry sectors are implementing 'cleaner production' approaches (minimising waste and pollution at source), and the benefits for individual organisations and the environment are substantial. (See Specific resources for examples.)
Link between work and home behaviour
It is important to create a link between people's behaviour at home and at work because many people are better at minimising waste at home than they are at work. Composting, recycling and other waste minimisation practices are often the norm at home, but at work they are often the exception. Trainers should try to draw out and question this inconsistency at every opportunity. Links between home and work behaviour could emphasise positive practices. For example, in order to raise the awareness of their work colleagues, people committed to changing work practices have taken food scraps home with them for composting.
Back to top
The NSW Government's Waste Reduction and Purchasing Policy (WRAPP) was announced in September 1997 and affects all NSW government agencies. (It doesn't apply to state-owned corporations or local government.) The policy requires that all NSW government agencies develop and implement a Waste Reduction & Purchasing Plan to reduce waste in the scheduled areas of paper products, office equipment and components, vegetation material and construction and demolition material. It also specifies that priority must be given to purchasing materials with recycled content where they are cost-effective and meet performance criteria. Nearly all NSW government agencies submitted Waste Reduction & Purchasing Plans to the Environment Protection Authority for approval between May and September 1998.
Industry waste reduction plans
To date, four industry-wide waste reduction plans have been developed:
Dairy Industry Waste Reduction Plan
This plan commenced on 1 May 1998. It covers milk packaging material from its point of manufacture through to point of sale, and its subsequent recovery through kerbside recycling or other systems.
Tyre Industry Waste Reduction Plan
This plan commenced on 5 June 1998. It covers the management of used, unwanted and reject tyres in New South Wales.
Beer and Soft Drink Industry Waste Reduction Plan
This plan commenced on 5 March 1999. It covers beer and soft drink packaging waste.
Used Packaging Materials Industry Waste Reduction Plan
This plan commenced on 29 September 2000. It supports the National Packaging Covenant by making non-Covenant signatories responsible for recovering and using post-consumer product packaging.
These plans have increased industry understanding of waste issues. It is likely there will be increasing demands for Earth Works type programs in industry, in the future.
Back to top
Organising an Earth Works course for the workplace
The following questions may help you plan an Earth Works course for a workplace:
Commitment to the course
- How and when should management be approached?
- To what extent are management and other staff interested in minimising waste in the workplace? It is essential that senior managers are well informed about the program and give it full support.
- Will the organisation support organisers, trainers and participants throughout the Earth Works course and subsequent waste minimisation program?
- Is there a core of interested staff who will help set up waste minimisation systems and spread the word through outreach activities? Can you form a workplace committee with them?
- How will participant's outreach activities be encouraged?
- How will the organisation maintain participants' (and wider) enthusiasm over time? Incentive schemes, regular feedback and support meetings etc.?
- How can the organisation's public relations/marketing staff get involved, to sell this program as a positive for the company?
- Has a waste audit or review been conducted in the workplace?
- What are the major types of waste in the workplace, and what are the quantities generated? (For example, look at paper, cardboard, glass, office supplies, energy use, water use, organic waste, hazardous waste. Any others?)
- If these levels are not known, can an audit or review be conducted to gauge volumes of these wastes and the effectiveness of the current waste management system?
- What procedures and systems can be put in place to minimise these wastes?
- How will procedures and systems be maintained once they are set up?
- How can the course information be tailored to the major waste issues in the workplace and to the participants' interests?
Running the course
- How can the course be structured to make best use of people's limited time?
- What are the most appropriate times and places to hold meetings?
- What is the best means of advertising the course (email, staff noticeboard etc.)?
Back to top
Delivering the course
Adults learn best when:
- they understand the course aims, desired outcomes and processes
- the learning is related to their experiences and needs
- they are actively involved in the learning process
- their experiences and self concept are valued
- it is recognised they have different learning styles
- the learning environment is secure and non-threatening
- there is an element of fun.
Tips for trainers
When planning and conducting a workplace course:
- seek interest from management in waste minimisation principles and practices
- involve management in the processes in an active way, e.g. make sure they are represented on any committees you establish
- determine the specific purpose of the course and adapt the Earth Works program accordingly
- be prepared to negotiate a course structure and content which reflects the needs and climate of the workplace and addresses the key competencies of Earth Works
- research major waste types and volumes in the organisation by conducting a waste audit
- run a brief introduction to the course (e.g. in a lunch hour or other suitable time for interested people). This should include a segment on outreach and set some realistic goals for minimising wastes
- include the 'why' as well as the 'how'
- hold a meeting for participants interested in investigating how to set up systems for the materials identified in the waste audit. Work as a group, involving management
- organise follow-up meetings of participants (e.g. form a committee) to look at what can be achieved
- promote outreach â€” this should start during the introductory session. It is an important part of 'spreading the word' about waste minimisation and why the organisation is supporting it
- hold a fun event such as a low-waste lunch or staff barbeque
- provide the group with regular feedback on progress
- work with management to determine how the organisation should acknowledge staff who are successful at outreach.
Back to top
Evaluating the course
Some possible performance indicators include:
- number of participants joining and completing the course
- number of participants undertaking outreach activities
- range of outreach activities
- success in establishing waste minimisation systems in the workplace
- increased staff awareness of waste minimisation principles and practices
- success in meeting set goals for minimising waste
- extent to which waste minimisation is integrated into operational procedures
- impact on the environmental policy of the company.
Back to top
Participants who take part in the course need to be given official support to promote waste minimisation goals. Time for outreach, at work, is an important part of this concept.
Participants can also include community outreach in their activities. Not all outreach must occur at work.
In some companies, outreach might mean involvement in company marketing efforts. This should be encouraged.
If the trainer is 'in-house' she or he will need to hold regular support meetings for participants so they can discuss their outreach work. If the trainer has worked as a consultant it is a good idea to invite them to come back in a couple of months to run a refresher meeting.
Back to top
Useful phone numbers and websites
BP Amoco Australia, 1998, Environmental Improvement Programme: Triple Bottom Line Performance, Audit Report and Recommendations, report available from author by emailing email@example.com
Compaq, 1998, Environmental Action: Composting in your workplace, website: www.compaq.com.au/composting
Environment Australia's website: www.erin.gov.au
NSW Environment Protection Authority, 1998, Food Sense: a guide to reducing waste in the hospitality industry. For printed copies of this booklet contact Pollution Line, Phone 131 555
NSW Environment Protection Authority website, Environmental Information for Small Business: www.epa.nsw.gov.au/small_business/
Page last updated: 27 February 2011