Whether you own or operate an office building, government building, retail location, church, warehouse, apartment complex, bar, restaurant, non-profit, or school, chances are that at one time or another you have been asked to implement a recycling program. Recycling is on the rise. In 2009, there were about 9,000 curbside recycling programs throughout the nation. According to Keep America Beautiful, higher rates of recycling the ongoing growth of new recycling programs are evidence that the industry is growing.
And it's no wonder--recycling reduces the amount of waste that ends up being buried or burned, prevents pollution, saves energy, reduces the demand for natural resources like wood and water, and creates new jobs. So what can you do to establish a recycling program now that will encourage others to decrease their carbon footprint and reduce waste? Read on for three steps to get you started.
1. Decide what you will recycle.
First, be aware of what materials can be recycled. Many recycling establishments have limitations on what they can recycle, so there's no point in collecting materials your local recycler can't accept.
Second, observe what type of waste your company or facility generates (and how much) to help you decide what materials would benefit most from recycling. Look at newspapers, printer ink cartridges, aluminum cans, and more.
2. Provide a place (or places) to recycle.
If your business is small, consider teaming up with others nearby to collect more recycling and therefore make it more affordable (more material makes recycling more cost efficient). If your facility can sustain its own recycling program, provide bins throughout the building to encourage recycling over throwing away.
If you're worried about the cost of providing bins, know that you don't have to have separate bins for each material--glass, cardboard, paper, etc. (although you may receive a higher price for pre-sorting them). You can put all materials in one bin as long as you don't contaminate them with non-recyclables.
3. Get the recyclables to a recycler.
You'll also need to arrange for someone to take the collected materials to a recycler. You can hire a company like Western Disposal to recycle them for you, or you can take them to a recycling facility yourself. Some cities provide subsidized business recycling collection--call your city offices to see if you might qualify.
Remember that in most cases it costs less to recycle than it does to pay for trash disposal. The more people participate and contribute, the more the revenue will offset the cost. It may also pay to look for specialized recyclers--some businesses pay for old electronics, for example.