Waste Management

When discussing ESG goals, waste management is one area that deserves significant attention. Waste management is crucial for environmental sustainability and is key to social and governance aspects. 

Defining Waste Management Targets


Waste management ESG targets refer to specific objectives set by organizations to reduce, reuse, recycle, and responsibly handle waste generated by their operations and third parties (Scope 3 emissions). These targets are integral to an organization’s ESG strategy and reflect a commitment to environmental responsibility, social well-being, and corporate governance. Waste management targets encompass many initiatives to minimize waste and its negative environmental and societal impacts.


Notably, biodiversity is an essential aspect of waste management targets and initiatives. Biodiversity ensures the needs of present and future generations. As the human population grows, so does the strain on ecosystems due to increased resource extraction. For instance, consider the dangers posed by plastic in oceans. The accumulation of plastic waste threatens marine biodiversity by entangling and harming marine life. This disruption imperils both current biodiversity and the ability of ecosystems to recover, impacting future generations’ well-being.

Waste Management targets

Companies set a variety of waste management and environmental sustainability targets to enhance their ESG performance. Some examples of waste management targets and ESG reporting include:

  1. Zero Waste to Landfill: Setting a goal to divert all waste away from landfills, focusing on recycling, composting, and responsible disposal. 

Example: “We commit to sending zero, or a limited percentage, of manufacturing and consumer waste to landfills”

  1. Reduction in Single-Use Plastics: Committing to reducing the use of single-use plastics in operations and sustainable supply chains. Companies with this target should have a measurable goal for plastic reduction and often have targets related to a specific percentage of materials made from recycled materials.
    Example: “By 20XX we commit to replacing all plastic components in our products with sustainable alternatives” 
  2. Sustainable Packaging: Focusing on sustainable packaging design and materials to reduce environmental impact. 

Example: “By 20XX our packaging will consist of at least XX% biodegradable, recyclable,and sustainable materials.”

  1. Circular Economy Adoption: Embracing the principles of a circular economy by reusing, refurbishing, or remanufacturing products and materials. Companies with this target should create measurable goals related to the sustainability of their products and materials.
    Example: “By 20XX at least XX% of our product will consist of recycled materials”

Example: “XX% of our sales will come from products made from recycled materials”

waste management

Other Waste Management Initiatives

E-Waste Recycling (electronic waste): Implementing responsible, measurable e-waste to recycling programs to manage electronic waste components safely.

Example: A company has dedicated collection centers at its retail stores or partnered with local recycling facilities to collect old or unwanted electronic devices


Waste Audits are another initiative that are often not subject to company-wide targets. However, they can be considered minimum standards for specific projects. Conducting regular waste audits to identify areas for improvement and track progress.

Why Waste Management Targets Matter

Waste management targets are vital for several reasons:

  1. Environmental Sustainability: Effective waste management reduces an organization’s environmental footprint, conserving resources and minimizing pollution.
  2. Resource Conservation: Minimizing waste often goes hand-in-hand with responsible resource use and conservation.
  3. Regulatory Compliance: Many regions have strict waste management regulations. Setting and achieving waste management targets ensures compliance.
  4. Operational Efficiency: Streamlining waste management processes can lead to cost savings and improved operational efficiency.
  5. Social Responsibility: Responsible waste management contributes to healthier communities and a cleaner environment, reflecting positively on an organization’s social responsibility.
  6. Brand Reputation: Demonstrating a commitment to responsible waste management can enhance a company’s reputation with customers and stakeholders.


Setting and Achieving Waste Management Targets


To effectively manage waste and achieve waste management targets, companies should follow a structured approach:

  1. Waste Assessment: Begin by conducting a waste assessment to understand the types and quantities of waste generated.
  2. Goal Setting: Set specific, measurable, and time-bound waste management targets. Ensure these targets align with the organization’s values and objectives.
  3. Waste Reduction Initiatives: Implement waste reduction, recycling, and sustainability initiatives involving employees and suppliers.
  4. Monitoring and Reporting: Regularly report waste management progress in ESG reports to showcase transparency and commitment.
  5. Certifications and External Validation: Seek certifications or external validation from organizations like the Zero Waste Certification or similar bodies to confirm the legitimacy of your efforts.

Benchmarking and Comparing Targets

Benchmarking your company’s waste management targets should include several steps including defining your objectives, gathering data, identifying KPIs and peer companies, and establishing your baseline and targets. To get started, check out the ESGRoadmap Waste Management Tool. Sign up for free today and start your research today with a free trial.