The project was conducted at Television Victoria's Head Office in Ballarat. The site houses approximately 100 staff in different departments. Production of television programs is a large part of the operations. The project was funded by a grant from the Recycling and Resource Recovery Council as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce waste going to landfill by 50% by the end of the decade.
The project focused on achieving best practice in waste minimisation within the television and radio industry. The measures were designed to be used as a model for others in the industry wishing to minimise waste production. Television Victoria was selected for the project as it was already committed to becoming environmentally responsible.
On an annual basis (prior to the commencement of the project), the Television Victoria site was producing 312 cubic metres of waste, which was collected at a cost of $3,900 per year.
A Waste Minimisation Committee (WMC) was formed to investigate the source of the waste and to draw up a waste minimisation strategy. It was composed of staff members from different departments.
After the formation of the WMC, VIC TV employed a facilitator for the project to contribute environmental knowledge and ideas. This was found to be very helpful. Initial staff involvement was through the dissemination of a questionnaire which served to increase awareness of the Waste Minimisation Strategy and to encourage participation in the project.
Cleaner production initiatives
The project aimed at a 50%-reduction in the amount of waste disposed of by the end of 1994 (a six-month period from July to December). The Waste Minimisation Committee made 15 recommendations to achieve this aim.
The recommendations revolved around the three R's - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. While recycling is perhaps the most recognisable and commonly used method, the reduction and reuse of waste are of equal or greater importance. The actions recommended by the Committee have been divided into these categories, in order of importance.
Reduction of waste at its source is crucial to any waste minimisation strategy. Examples of this include redesigning product packaging to use less material, modernising outdated and inefficient equipment to use materials more productively and replacing disposable products with durable alternatives.
The importance of reduction was brought home to the Committee by a comment from a member of staff from another organisation undertaking a similar project:
'...recycling is being used as an excuse to use excess paper, i.e. people seem to think that it doesn't matter how much paper is used as long as they put it in the recycling bin...'
Some of the initiatives listed below were already practiced in some parts of VIC TV. The project aimed to make all offices aware of them to ensure the maximum level of staff participation in as many initiatives as possible.
- Retractable cotton hand towels were recommended to replace hand dryers or paper towels. This unit is widely used in hospitals because it is more hygienic than alternatives. It also significantly reduces the amount of non-recyclable paper waste being produced. The unit retracts the section of towel 15 seconds after it has been used, unlike a traditional unit where a section of towel is used but continues to hang down until someone pulls out a fresh section,. The same section of towel cannot then be used more than once. Alsco Linen Services provide a free one month trial period.
- Paper. There are many ways to reduce the amount of paper used within the standard office environment.
Educate staff to use the photocopier’s double-siding facility.
Introduce electronic mail to most stations linked with computer networks. Not all members of staff work from a computer terminal but e-mail in just some offices, certainly reduces use and the need to dispose of paper.
Use new 'green' product ranges such as the 'green' laser printer from Kyocera, which eliminates the need for a laser cartridge, 30,000 tonnes of which are disposed of in Australia annually.
Use a folder for circulating non-urgent memos rather than distributing them to individuals. Alternatively, memos could be posted in designated places for staff to read.
Some company fax report slips are printed with a whole page used for one fax, often unnecessarily. If two letterheads were photocopied onto one page, less fax paper would be used.
Compostable waste: All organic waste should be composted. A compost bin was introduced in the canteen for cooking and lunch scraps. This system has been successful in reducing the weekly volume of waste, in addition to enhancing the grounds surrounding the office. It consists of two compost bins in the canteen and one in the news 'traffic' department. These bins are emptied every day by the cleaners. If facilities such as these are not available, worm factories are a practical alternative. The worm factory is a box made of recycled plastic (approximate dimensions: 60cm x 40cm x 80cm) containing three trays. Food waste placed into the bottom tray is broken down by the worms, leaving pure organic worm castings. These castings are ideal for garden fertiliser or office plants or, as a last resort, disposed of with other office waste.
Suppliers letters: Letters were sent to all the suppliers requesting a list of all environmentally responsible products they supply. These may be recycled products, package free products, biodegradable products and others. Purchasing managers could also request these products when ordering.
Polystyrene, plastic and paper cups: Plastic, polystyrene or paper cups were replaced with ceramic mugs and/or glasses.
Pens and pencils: Refillable pens and pencils were purchased for all staff.
Reuse of a product more than once in its original form is the second level in the waste management hierarchy after source reduction. Reuse differs from recycling because products and materials are not reprocessed, saving resources and energy.
- Collection boxes for non-confidential single sided photocopies and plain fax report sheets can be placed next to photocopiers and plain paper fax machines. This paper can then be reused for notepads, draft reports or turned over and reused for fax cover sheets.
- Some continuous paper computer printers leave a few blank pages between reports. Collection boxes were placed next to the printer to collect these pages for reuse. It may even be possible to re-set the printer to eliminate the blank pages between the reports, thus further reducing paper waste.
- Use refillable highlighters. These refills cost approximately the same as a new highlighter, but further reductions in waste will result.
- Used wires from the technical department are kept and reused if appropriate, or sold to a scrap metal yard.
The most common materials used in recycling are wood fibre, metals, glass and plastics. In most cases, manufacturing from recycled materials requires less energy and results in a reduced environmental impact when compared with using a virgin or primary resource, provided the recycled materials are collected and processed efficiently.
Used tape reels. VIC TVA, along with Complete Video Services, have launched a program where credit is accumulated for old spot reels collected. For every 1250 old spot reels, 100 new ones are supplied free of charge.
Paper. The recycling system introduced at VIC TV Ballarat consists of small desk trays for individual paper waste and larger floor bins into which they are emptied. The floor bins are in turn emptied into a bale bag in the shed, which is collected by a recycling company.
Glass, aluminium cans, PET plastics and liquid-paperboard (milk cartons etc). At VIC TV a complete cans, glass, PET plastics and liquid-paperboard separation and recycling system was established. These containers of different materials are collected together and put in bins to be collected by a recycling company when they come to collect the cardboard and paper.
Laser cartridges. Buying recycled cartridges has been a financial benefit to VIC TV. A company has been found that will pay $10 for all used cartridges and will supply high quality recycled replacements for half the price of a new one.
Printer ribbons. The original method of recycling ribbons was to re-ink the used ribbon, but now the ribbon is actually replaced. While there is still waste in the disposal of used ribbons, the plastic casting is re-used, resulting in notably reduced waste and cost savings.
One-inch tape reels. One-inch tape reels are made of aluminium and can therefore be recycled. Some VIC TV offices were selling all used reels to a scrap metal yard, reducing the amount of waste going to landfill and economically benefiting the organisation.
Batteries and toxic substances. Nickel Cadmium (Ni Cad) batteries are used in news rooms and elsewhere around some networks. Barillium Oxide and PCB oils are highly toxic substances found in transmission equipment. Although the quantities of processing solution used in the graphics departments may not be excessive, its responsible disposal is imperative. The graphics department in Ballarat had stored the used chemicals, being unsure of elimination techniques. A company was found that provided appropriate disposal.
Some negative films and papers used in the graphics department contain a small quantity of silver. After the developing procedure, the silver is left in the processing solution, which is used for a period of time and then replaced. This silver can be extracted. There are companies which offer chemical collection services wherein the used solution is collected in bulk for a small fee. This cost is offset by payment for the silver content of the chemical.
Advantages of the process
As the Waste Minimisation Committee’s recommendations were implemented, the amount of waste produced noticeably decreased, achieving the initial aim after 4 weeks. Waste production fell by 50% within only four months, two months ahead of target. In addition to waste reduction, the project also realised cost savings.
Cleaner production incentives
Television Victoria had been implementing sound environmental practices at the head office in Ballarat. The project funding from the Recycling and Resource Recovery Council presented an opportunity to maintain the staff’s high level of enthusiasm for cleaner production measures and to adopt additional measures. For example, the Waste Minimisation Committee has concentrated primarily on the reduction of solid waste, but it has identified other areas that could be investigated to reduce other environmental impacts.
- LPG conversion for those stations with a car fleet that travels extensively, consuming large amounts of petrol.
Annual Time Switches. These allow air conditioning systems to be programmed so air-conditioning/heating remains off on public holidays.
- Using other environmentally responsible products, such as phosphate free, biodegradable soaps and detergent, recycled manilla envelopes, water-based liquid paper, water-based paints wherever possible, and post-it notes made of recycled paper
- Maintenance. Immediate notification of the need for maintenance is important in all areas of the workplace. For example a tap dripping 10 times a minute wastes approximately 3,000 litres of water per day.
- Use of energy efficient light bulbs. For example, fluorescent lights use half the energy of incandescent globes so these are an attractive alternative.
By achieving the waste minimisation targets, the company would be assisting the Victorian Government's goal of a 50%-waste reduction by the end of the decade statewide. This aim was compatible with those of all Waste Minimisation Strategies. Waste reductions of at least 20% in the first 6 months, and 50% over 18 months, are specific waste minimisation goals that should be achievable by all organisations of this type, depending upon present operations.
Being involved in the WMC was an important learning experience for many participants, leading to greatly improved understanding of environmental issues and concerns. Through this it is hoped that staff begin to address these issues in every aspect of their lives.