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A Greener Future: Responsible Waste Management in Micro Enterprise Manufacturing

In the manufacturing sector, a significant proportion of businesses fall into the small-scale category: 87% of the approx. 48 000 manufacturing businesses in Australia according to a report by Australian Industry Group’s Australian Manufacturing. While their size may be small (1-19 workers), the potential impact of these micro enterprises on sustainable development is substantial. 

Micro-enterprises play a vital role in our economy. They provide goods and services, drive local economic growth, and contribute to community development. However, along with their valuable contributions, they also generate waste, which can harm the environment if not managed properly. 

Managing waste responsibly is crucial for several reasons, even for the many home based microenterprise manufacturers. Whether you are making jewellery based products, sewing based items or skin care, a little waste from a lot of people creates a lot that needs to be managed ethically. We are all keenly aware that uncontrolled waste can lead to pollution, affecting air, water, and soil quality, ultimately causing harm to ecosystems and human health. Additionally, excessive waste accumulation depletes our natural resources as more raw materials are required for production. 

From a business perspective, effective waste management can enhance brand reputation, improve efficiency, reduce costs, and open new market opportunities. Customers and stakeholders are becoming more environmentally conscious, expecting businesses to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable practices. 

It's essential to remember that managing waste is not just about the amount produced, but also about how that waste is managed. Even if micro enterprises produce a small proportion of Australia's total waste, implementing responsible waste management practices can still have significant environmental, economic, and social benefits. 

Waste Management Practices for Micro Enterprises 

Micro enterprise manufacturers can incorporate several strategies into their operations to manage waste responsibly. 

  1. Waste Audit: Here at LycanCo we regularly perform waste audits to understand what type of waste is generated, where it comes from, and in what quantities. This critical information informs our waste management plan and helps identify areas for improvement. 
  2. Waste Reduction: LycanCo. is proactive about waste reduction, looking for ways to redesign products, processes, and systems to prevent waste generation. For instance, we have revised our soap making process to minimise the use of raw materials without compromising the quality of their products. 
  3. Reuse and Recycling: Where waste generation is inevitable, LycanCo emphasises reuse and recycling. Waste soap scraps are molded into new products or gifted to appropriate parties. They also recycle packaging materials whenever possible and ensure the responsible recycling of packaging materials when that is the only option. 
  4. Partnerships: It is possible for microenterprises to establish partnerships with local waste management and recycling companies. These partnerships provide tailored waste management solutions that help separate and collect specific types of waste for recycling or composting. For LycanCo, that can include the containers our raw products such as coconut butter or Jojoba Oil are packaged in. 
  5. Education and Training: LycanCo places a high value on employee education and training. We believe that an informed team is key to efficient operations and innovative solutions.  

Though micro enterprise manufacturers may be small in scale, their contribution to environmental sustainability can be substantial. One only needs to take a trip to their local artisan market on the weekend to see how many of these microenterprises are manufacturing from their homes. By implementing responsible waste management strategies, they can not only mitigate their environmental impact but also benefit financially and enhance their reputation among increasingly eco-conscious consumers. This is a step toward a greener future, a journey every enterprise should embark upon, no matter how small.