Waste Reduction and Recycling
Waste has a big impact on the environment and in the daily course of running your business, you create waste. There are some strategies you might consider to reduce your company's waste stream, which can also benefit the bottom line.
Like many aspects of ”˜being green,' simple awareness of small things can make a big difference. That's certainly true regarding how your company uses materials. Purchasing practices, material reuse and considering changes to equipment, materials and procedures and processes can all prevent or reduce waste.
- Do a waste audit of your business to identify areas where waste reduction could be realized.
- Put in place waste-reduction policies and procedures. These will vary from industry to industry and business to business. You can generate ideas by brainstorming with an employee team, and possibly, through your national trade associations or professional societies.
- In offices, a good place to start is with a policy to reduce paper waste. Consider:
a. distributing information electronically instead of printed copies;
b. setting printer and copier defaults to two-sided;
c. setting standard document templates to have wider margins to fit more text on a single page;
d. editing documents on the computer rather than printing them; and
e. reusing paper as scratch paper.
- Purchase durable items that won't wear out or need to be replaced frequently.
- Reuse boxes and packing materials.
- Consider a Materials Exchange Program, through which one company's waste can be reused by another company.
- Donate your "waste" to a local charity so it can be reused by someone in the community rather than being thrown away.
Local Resources and Organizations
- Earth911.com for Business - This site has a step-by-step waste assesment guide, advice on how to create a waste reduction plan and specific goals for various materials typically used in business.
- WasteWise. This EPA program provides information and recognition for businesses, local governments, and non-profit organizations of all sizes and from all industry sectors.
- EPA Pollution Prevention Small Business Guide.
- EPA Guide to International and National Materials Exchange. This site provides information on markets for buying and selling reusable and recyclable commodities.
- Reduce Your Waste. Reduceyourwaste.org is an interactive tool to help your businesses reduce its waste stream.
With your waste reduction strategies in place, you're in a great position to run a successful recycling program.
- Decide what materials to recycle ”” Recycle paper, glass, metal, plastic, cardboard, pallets, pallet wrap, wood debris, and toner and inkjet cartridges, and other materials. Consider composting landscape waste and other organic material.
- Find a recycling vendor””Check with your local waste hauler or recycling center - or use the local resources listed below - to find out what kind of materials are accepted in your area and by what vendors.
- Choose recycling bins””Trash cans or washable plastic bins are the best containers to store your recycling. Be sure to rinse out any recyclables that contained food and wash your bins when needed.
- Engage and educate your employees””Let your employees know about your new recycling program and participate in its success. Take suggestions of how to improve the program, and engage your employees in implementing their suggestions.
- Label your recycling bins””Download and print appropriate recycling signs, and any special instructions, such as: remove caps, stomp on containers, break down cardboard boxes, bundle newspapers, etc.
- Maintain and monitor your recycling program””Keep your recycling bins clean and dry and make sure materials don't pile up. Assign employees responsibility for maintaining the areas, and engage them in measuring the program's success.
- Keep it fun and rewarding””Reward participating employees and find ways to challenge the office to increase the amount of materials they collect.
Local Resources and Organizations
- Earth911.com for Business. The site has some good information about how to set up an effective recycling program for your business.
- EPA Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
- GreenBiz.com Office Paper Recycling. A valuable overview article from GreenBiz on recycling paper in the office.
- US Conference of Mayors - Recycling.