Companies interested in a more sustainable approach to waste management than traditional disposal solutions have a number of options available. These options range from upfront low-cost solutions such as composting to more expensive onsite biodigesters. However, business owners that investigate the appeal of low-cost options quickly realize that low upfront costs often hide higher long-term expenses around labor.
Savvy business owners recognize that the most effective investments are those that account for the total life cycle costs of a solution. In fact, many organizations that invest in onsite biodigesters to manage their organic waste do so because they recognize the tremendous waste management cost savings these solutions pay back over time.
Below, we’ll compare the cost of traditional waste management against a biodigester investment and lay bare the true cost of biodigester ownership.
How to calculate the total cost of waste
Waste management costs will vary depending on location, the amount of waste produced, and local regulations that may require that organizations compost, recycle, or otherwise dispose of waste through alternative solutions. The most effective way to get a true sense of how much you spend on waste management is by performing an audit.
Waste management firm ERC notes that most organizations budget only for the direct costs of waste collection or treatment, perhaps including materials such as garbage bags. And an audit should begin by accounting for these direct waste management costs. In some areas, this might include $15 per month to rent a 4-yard front loading bin with an additional $400 for once-a-week pickup. Costs will rise for heavier waste producers who need more frequent garbage pickup. Organizations that opt to dispose of their garbage themselves face a landfill tipping fee that can range between $25 to $150 per ton of waste.
However, an effective audit should also include the indirect costs of waste management. These indirect costs include the labor responsible for collecting and transporting waste to outdoor bins, cleaning up spills, and keeping the garbage area sanitary to prevent attracting pests.
Short-term savings vs. long-term waste management costs
Any process change will carry some change in cost. In considering making a change to more sustainable waste management, it’s important that companies evaluate the short-term impact of their change against potential long-term operational savings.
Evaluating the total cost of ownership is an impactful way of identifying cost-saving opportunities. The total cost of ownership includes the initial purchase price of a specific asset, as well as its ongoing operating costs over the asset’s projected life cycle. By considering the total cost of ownership of an asset, companies can get a more accurate sense of the long-term savings they can achieve through their investment.
In the case of a biodigester, that means evaluating the upfront purchase price in combination with long-term energy and water usage. Even accounting for these factors, many organizations with heavy commercial food production areas are able to realize a payback period of less than two years on their biodigester. Solutions like the world’s first solar-powered biodigester can further reduce operational costs.
These assessments can also identify additional opportunities for saving. For example, some of today’s biodigesters provide data on the types of foods most frequently processed that can help companies adjust their purchasing habits to reduce waste at the source.
When comparing ongoing waste management costs to the upfront expense of an onsite biodigester, it becomes quickly clear that this one-time investment offers the potential for tremendous long-term cost savings.
The environmental cost of waste management
Another indirect cost of waste management is the cost of ignoring consumer demands for sustainability. Time and again, consumers are proving that they are willing to invest in organizations that commit to sustainable business practices.
According to the Global Sustainability Study 2021, conducted by global strategy and pricing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, sustainability continues to drive consumers’ purchasing decisions, even more so as consumers see themselves as primary catalysts for change. Sixty percent of consumers surveyed rated sustainability as an important purchase criterion. On average, more than a third of consumers surveyed reported being willing to pay more for sustainable products, by up to 25% more than comparable products. Younger consumers are more likely to spend higher for sustainability, which will only drive up demand for environmentally friendly solutions over time.
This may be a particularly difficult indirect cost to measure, but organizations of all types are recognizing that sustainable waste management is good for business.
Try a more sustainable way of waste management
While changes to waste management processes are an excellent opportunity to find cost savings, this is a solution that has been easily overlooked in the past. Now, however, regulatory requirements and corporate sustainability goals are pushing many organizations to re-evaluate how they manage their waste. By taking a comprehensive approach that evaluates direct and indirect costs, companies can confidently make the right decision for their business needs.
To learn how you can save with an onsite biodigester, contact Power Knot today.