Did you know that 75% of American consumers take a business’s sustainability responsibility into account when making purchases? A Forbes article reported that Roland Berger Consulting, an independent consulting firm, concluded “...that 7 out of 10 young adults and millennials consider themselves social activists”. Their buying power can be used to make an impact on environmental and social issues.
Recycling is one of the most easily implemented and publically visible sustainable practice that any business, large or small, can implement! When done right, recycling may reduce operating costs, increase employee engagement and retention and generate positive customer feedback.
So how can your business recycle right? Here are key aspects to implementing a recycling program.
- Complete a “ Waste Composition Study”
The first step in creating a successful recycling program is to determine what types of material your business generates that could be recycled instead of thrown in the trash. This will help you understand the quantity of material you can collect and the types of bins you will need to collect it.
This is also a great opportunity to determine if changing your standard business practice could reduce the overall amount of waste generated. For example, are you throwing away a lot of disposable mop heads? You could consider switching to a microfiber or washable mop head to reduce the total amount of waste generated.
- Complete a Cost-Benefit Analysis
Now that you know how much material you can recycle, you’ll need to find someone to take that material. There are several local haulers in the area that can provide a variety of container sizes and types. For a listing of some of these businesses you can contact the Office of Recycling at Recycle@FrederickCountyMD.gov.
While initially you may add costs to have a recycling bin serviced, many organizations notice a significant decrease in the amount of trash produced, which in turn reduces hauling costs for the trash. At the Frederick County transfer station, the tipping fee for recycling is it is less expensive than the tipping fee for trash. These savings are often transferred to the business.
- Determine Bin Placement
Now that you have determined what you are going to collect and how it is going to be hauled away, you need to determine how you are going to collect the material as part of the daily business operations. Remember, a recycling program is only a powerful tool if you Recycle Right. Where you place your recycling bins has a huge impact on what material will go in them. For example, if the recycling bin is close to a sink, it will likely be contaminated with paper towel waste. You want to make sure that the bin are placed in areas where recycling waste is generated. You will also wanted to make sure that your bin has a lid that encourage the right material to be placed in it. For example, if you want to collect paper consider a lid with a thin slot opening to encourage only paper. A lid with a circle opening would be used for cans and bottles. Bin placement is your biggest asset against contamination. If your recycling is too contaminated, it may be treated as trash. As a result, no cost savings will be passed on.
- Educate the Staff
Putting bins in the correct place is important, but you also need to engage the staff. Let them know what you are trying to collect and have them help implement and monitor the program. Getting the staff involved with a recycling program gives them ownership of the project and increases the likelihood of success.
- Send the Right Message
Let all of your different stakeholders know what material they should be recycling by providing easy to understand messaging. Simple signs and stickers can go a long way to making sure you get the right material in the bin. It is recommended that each type of waste collected be represented by separate colors. For example, recycling is collected in blue bins with blue signs, while trash is collected in black bags with black signs. This should help significantly when collecting recycling at different points in the business because it acts as a very strong visual cue.
- Monitor the program
Now that your program is up and running, it’s important to monitor it, and gauge your success. If you find you have contamination in your recycling, you might engage the staff in relocating some bins or changing the words of images on signs to ensure you are collecting the right material.
You should also check to make sure your hauling schedule is just right. Having more service than you need is an unnecessary expense.
- Receive Reward and Recognition
Get noticed for making Frederick County a greener, cleaner, more sustainable place to work. The Office of Recycling sponsors a Waste Reduction and Recycling awards program each year. Any business is welcome to apply via the online platform. Award recipients are honored in celebration of America recycles day each November.
For additional information on how your business can recycle or for support on any of the 7 steps to implement a recycling program please contact Frederick County’s Commercial Recycling Program Analyst, Deborah Moran at Dmoran@frederickcountymd.gov or by calling 301-600-7230.