• Teja Hudson

Waste Hierarchy: Meetings

The topic for this week was Meetings, and here is the week's roundup!

We took the Waste Hierarchy Pyramid and used it to identify opportunities in the workplace for approaching consumption differently. As always, the idea of the Waste Hierarchy is to work through the levels in order, but ultimately for all levels to work together at the same time to prevent and minimise your waste.

Remember, it's ok to take it in stages, to focus on your quick-wins first and then move towards deeper change as you gain confidence.


Many workers say they're sick of meetings but like them or not, sometimes they're an inevitable part of workplace culture.

Waste in this area mostly comes down to paper use, catering (sandwiches, cakes, coffees and water) and transport to get to remote meetings. As usual, we're going to use the Waste Hierarchy Pyramid to break down how we might change the way the think about these sources and what we might be able to do differently :)


To REFUSE this waste stream, we first have to ask if we really need this meeting at all? Could this need be met another way, for example a digital check-in "board" for real-time updates on progress? If not co-located, could you use skype or similar to video conference from your various locations instead of travelling to meet?

If you do need to meet face-to-face, then where can you eliminate waste streams like paper or single-use containers? How can you reward good behaviour? Where can you ask for suggestions from other participants to create buy-in?


REDUCING the sources of waste that you can't yet get rid of is an important interim step on your way to greater sustainability, and there are several ways to do this. We all know that what gets measured gets managed, so how might you introduce mesurements for the things you want to reduce? Or how might you reduce the frequency of the meetings themselves?

If you or other attendees have to travel to meetings, then also pay particular attention to reducing emissions by looking at more efficient modes of transport and planning to combine activities in distant locations to make the journey more worthwhile (and reduce the frequency of having to travel).


Introducing REUSABILITY into a meeting room is not as difficult as you might think: we've already covered reusable notebooks, flipcharts and post-its in a previous week on Paper, and talked about reusable catering alternatives in the week covering Kitchen Plastics.

But did you also know that sharing facilities, such as cars, bikes, tools and meeting rooms can often turn out to be more efficient - and more resource-saving - than everyone owning those things individually? Check out the Sharing Economy on your favourite search engine for more details!


The final stage of the Waste Hierarchy Pyramid leads us to RECYCLING, and ensuring that everything that comes in or out of your business fits into that cycle, meaning both made from recycled/natural materials and able to be recycled/composted at the end of its life.

You can encourage recycling at your meetings by putting recycling bins in every meeting room, only choosing cafes or local meeting places that deal with their waste responsibly (and don't use single-use items like straws or sugar packets), and creating a culture of recycling in your workplace.

Good luck!


As always, this is just one example of how to work through a problem using the Waste Hierarchy Pyramid; every workplace is different so don't be intimidated by all the different options, just do what you can and work towards long term change.

After all, working towards sustainability is a process, and starting imperfectly is better than not starting at all!

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