1.1. Background to the study
In addition to wastelands and their visual and environmental burdens, seas and oceans of our planet are suffering from waste created by humans. Fish and other species are exposed to trash, such as plastic, on a daily basis and end up for example eating it. This, in turn, affects also us humans, as we are the ones both killing and eating the fish in question. In the worst case, these species become extinct due to our behaviour. (www.theguardian.com and www.bbc.com)
Therefore, in addition to municipal waste management and change in consumer behaviour and consumption habits, efficient waste management in organizations is becoming more and more important and timely. Nowadays, environmental issues are highlighted more than ever in our society and it is becoming a general perception, that we cannot continue to produce the same amount of waste as before. Hence, efficiency regarding both waste generation and management is highly encouraged.
To find a solution, both new governmental regulations and support for new innovations, combined with institutional research regarding waste diminution could allow organizations to find new ways of re-using and disposing the waste they create. There is high potential for efficient waste management and re-usage of materials to result in higher economic value and cost savings for organizations.
This would not only benefit the organizations themselves but also governments, as the diminishing amount of waste created could result in having less need for example for landfills.
Therefore, waste management and the environmental aspect of organizational behaviour should not be treated as problems. On the contrary, they should be seen as new possibilities and opportunities for both organizations and other stakeholders.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
In addition to municipal waste, organizations create a varying amount of waste dependent on the field. As they are being perceived more and more as responsible institutes and are expected to function ethically and in an environmentally friendly manner in addition to being economically beneficial, they need to start paying more attention to environmental issues, specifically waste management.
Moreover, environmental issues, such as global warming, are becoming more and more important and are very timely for our society. Besides new stricter governmental regulations, a growing number of organizations are implementing extensive sustainable development and waste management programs and targets into their agenda of their own free will.
As the impact of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities have been studied, it is not always that these practices bring more profitability or revenues to the organization. Instead, such actions might result in decreased amount of risk, meaning that the organization is less prone to risks e.g. law suits, as it is pursuing socially responsible actions. (Cronin et al., 2011)
Therefore, as CSR and waste management are somewhat overlapping topics, this thesis will concentrate on discovering the potential benefits that different types of waste management procedures have to offer for organizations, or whether they bring no additional value or even create more costs in the first place. In addition, the main concentration is on the benefits gained from efficient waste management in organizations mainly located in Nigeria.
1.3. Research Questions
The research questions this thesis will seek to answer are the following:
1. What type of waste do organizations create?
2. What are the organization’s policies/attitudes towards waste? /How do different organizations perceive waste management (a constraint/compulsory measure or an opportunity)?
3. What different type of methods are there for organizations to deal with waste?
4. What are the outcomes of different types of waste management?
1.4. Research Objectives
The objectives of this thesis concentrate on the following activities:
1. To discover the economic benefits a company can gain from efficient waste management.
2. To discover the procedures for managing and minimizing waste.
3. To explore the impact of environmental awareness of the companies to customers and target groups.
1.5 Significance of the study
The main findings of this study will concentrate on the methods and benefits of efficient waste management. It seems that there is a link between handling organizational waste in a manner that is both environmentally friendly and sustainable and additional revenues generated to the organizations engaging in these activities. The fact that organizations are mainly not interested in investing in waste management techniques that do not benefit them economically, it could be concluded that to some extent, the waste management techniques they have implemented do bring cost savings by simultaneously diminishing the amount of waste. Although, it should be noted, that the link exists on a different scope depending on the field the organization operates on.
The additional revenues, which are highly dependent on the field the organization operates on and are in overall very field-specific, are not that great when compared to the overall revenue of the organizations. Therefore, these revenues do not clearly benefit or boost a company’s profitability.
1.6 Scope/Limitation of the study
In this study, only three companies were interviewed, and therefore only rough conclusions can be made. Also, as the whole subject of waste management and its potential benefits are very field-specific, it is difficult to compare the three companies with each other or make any general conclusions from their waste management procedures. These procedures are very personal and what works for one company might not work for another. Although there are universal waste management criteria that do bring cost savings to almost all companies dependent on the field of business, such as decreasing the amount of waste, the results and procedures are still very field specific and each field should be assessed independently.
If the interviews were to be conducted again, it would be smart to modify some of the interview questions. A couple of them seemed somewhat difficult for the interviewees to understand and answer, e.g. when discussing the economic benefits gained from waste management procedures. Therefore, this specific question was answered quite differently by all of the company representatives.
Also, when asking about the effects of the company’s ecolabels to their customers, it is difficult to say how precise the answers were, as they probably reflected more of how the company itself experiences how their customers’ view their ecolabels and rank the company in comparison to their competitors. Hence, the answers might have been to some extent biased, although the answers and views on the subject of some of the company representatives were quite interesting.
In order to avoid misunderstandings and biased information, these questions should have been phrased differently or instead another person who is more knowledgeable of the specific field of information should have been contacted inside the companies. This, of course, would also might have burden the companies more regarding the interviews.