Managing waste efficiently is good for the environment, for your local reputation and for your finances.
Relying solely on the physical removal of waste, often requiring specialist contractors due to the amounts involved or the hazardous nature of some waste products, is expensive and likely to get even more costly.
The creation and accumulation of waste from golf course operations is unavoidable, but it is important to recognise that the manner in which you deal with it will impact on both your costs and your reputation. If disposed of irresponsibly, waste can cause significant damage to the environment and, as a consequence, there may be severe financial penalties under a growing body of environmental legislation.
The most common waste materials include:
- grass clippings, plant prunings, leaves and residual green waste from hollow coring and bunker renovation work
- waste water from washing down machinery
- chemical containers and residues
- engine oil, coolants, oil and fuel filters, grease cartridges, aerosols, solvents, brake fluid, spent oil soak granules and/or pads, oily rags, spray suits, masks and gloves, out of date or spoiled spray chemicals, contaminated fuels, tyres, and batteries of all types.
Implementing management strategies such as promoting firm, healthy turf, to reduce the total amount of waste produced is the ideal scenario, but there will always be excess materials which will need to be dealt with correctly.
The preference for dealing with any of these materials will always be to re-use them. If this is feasible, it must be done in a manner which is approved, safe, energy-efficient and which will not damage the local environment. Some possible solutions include:
- composting green waste on site to produce a useful material for turf establishment, repair and, if suitably screened, top dressing
- making use of wood for course furniture or for edging paths. Wood chippings might also be suitable for use as a mulch or for a path surface
- re-using waste water for equipment wash-down and then processing this through a water-treatment facility.
Any waste which cannot be re-used should be considered for recycling. This may incur the cost of removal to a specialist plant. Keeping records of such costs will help you to determine the increasing efficiency of your waste management programme. There are some materials that have to be disposed of off-site such as:
- containers which have held toxic pesticides or fertilisers
- used engine oil and coolants which carry potential for polluting local ecosystems and harming wildlife
- flourescent tubes, TV's, computer monitors, mobile phones, fridges and freezers, printer cartridges and others.
Where possible, sort waste materials into appropriate collection facilities for recycling.
Training staff in the correct protocols for disposal or treatment of waste materials will ensure that all your waste management operations run smoothly and in line with current legislation. Making a member of staff responsible for this programme is highly advisable.
There is a huge amount of information available from governments and other sources on the safe disposal of waste, some of which have been developed specifically for golf.