Guest Post by Waste Management
We’ve reached the point where sustainability programs and processes are more than add-on approaches. Instead, they are integral components of a store or restaurant’s business plan. No longer “nice to have” initiatives that the PR department can talk about, they have become an elemental aspect of every operating decision.
Waste Management has the ability to work with businesses to develop and achieve a sustainability program that can fit their desired needs.
An easy way to start your company’s sustainability plan is to implement single-stream recycling. Long gone are the days when recycling needed to be manually sorted before sending off to the appropriate facility. With single-stream recycling, you can place all the company’s recyclables into a single container.
What materials can be comingled with single-stream recycling?
Materials that can be comingled with single-stream recycling include:
- Fiber, which includes newspaper, office paper and cardboard
- Plastic (usually numbers 1-7)
- Cartons (certain markets may not accept this material)
- Glass (certain markets may not accept this material)
We are finding that more and more businesses are adopting single-stream recycling, because it is easy and it works. Single-stream recycling not only increases participation and waste tonnage collected, it can lower your organization’s overall waste collection costs. What are the other benefits? On average, at least 50 percent more recyclables are collected with single-stream recycling, and it helps lower the costs and emissions associated with collection.
What makes single-stream recycling possible?
Over the years Waste Management has invested in improving separation technologies, as well as improving the quality of commodities a facility can produce. Materials collected through single-stream recycling are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Here, using advanced technologies such as magnets, screens and optical scanners, materials are processed and sorted.
Since 2002, the amount of materials processed at WM’s single-stream recycling plants has nearly tripled, contributing greatly to its overall recycling performance — 12 million tons were managed in 2012.
In 2011, WM purchased one million tons of additional recycling capacity, and with the acquisition of Greenstar in 2013 is continuing to expand on this innovative environmental solution.
Create your own waste minimization action plan.
To put a waste minimization approach in action and embrace sustainability requires a wide-ranging approach. Here are six considerations:
- Analyze waste streams – often this means working with waste haulers that track material volumes and perform audits of the waste content to illuminate reduction opportunities.
- Set clear goals – waste reduction goals are set at the corporate level to communicate intentions, build accountability and inspire action. Aim to reduce waste by a certain percentage (for example, reduce landfill waste by 20%).
- Start with reduction and reuse – retailers achieve this by updating procurement policies to minimize the volume of disposable material entering their facilities and engaging employees to reduce material consumption.
- Maximize recycling – for materials that can’t be eliminated or reused, look next at recycling. Everything from plastic, aluminum and cardboard to cooking oil can be recycled. Donation banks can find a new life for used furniture and durable goods. Food waste can be composted or used to make alternative fuels.
- Continue down the sustainability path – as initial programs take hold, look to become even more innovative by directing operational wastes to product manufacturers, thereby closing the waste-to-product loop. For example, Worldwise, a producer of pet products, creates products with Walmart’s recycled water bottles, cardboard, hangers and bags.
- Involve people – employee engagement is an essential part of waste minimization. An effective recycling program is designed for ease, understanding and convenience – with participation integrated into employee training and reinforced by clear performance feedback.
Contact Waste Management.
Waste Management has a long history of environmental leadership and bringing our customers advanced solutions and expertise. In the mid-1990s, it was our company that introduced single-stream recycling technology. All across North America, Waste Management is proud to help our customers set and achieve their sustainability goals.