Successful business leaders study the environment before making decisions. You wouldn’t put out a new product without a marketing analysis or invest in a security without a financial report, so put that same level of consideration into your plan to place recycle containers. Start with a waste audit so you can create the ideal program for your organization.
Analyze The Market
Recyclables are a commodity. Recycling companies are able to sell those materials to plants to help offset their collection costs, which is why recycling services are generally cheaper than trash collection. You want to know that you have a good supply and there is a demand before putting your commodity on the market.
Examine your company’s waste stream. What kinds of materials do you produce and what markets exist for them? You don’t want to pay for pickup service if the recycle containers are going to be nearly empty. Look for commodities that either you produce in volume or that have significant value, such as ink cartridges or aluminum cans. Can you get a reduced rate if you do some of the work, such as baling cardboard or separating paper from plastic?
Make A Plan
Now that you know what is being generated ask yourself where it’s being generated. There’s not usually any reason to put recycle containers for aluminum in the mailroom or paper recycling bins on the factory floor. Putting bins near generation sources makes it easier for workers to dispose of materials properly. Minimize cross-contamination by putting recycling near trash containers, and by using tops with appropriate opening like a round hole for cans and a slot for paper.
Don’t expect everyone to simply know what is appropriate to recycle. The world is full of myths about glossy paper, waxy cardboard and dirty plastic. Educate your workers and custodial staff on what can and can’t be recycled, where each material should go, and how it gets to the outside bins for pickup.
Do The Math
As a rule recycling is cheaper than trash collection, but how much cheaper? It depends on your area, your materials and the volume generated. Estimate how much the service will cost. Calculate your startup costs, which include buying recycle containers and educating the workers. How long will it take to break even? Remember it’s better to start with a small, focused program and then expand it later as it proves successful.
Audit the program to be sure costs are still reasonable. If you augment your recycling efforts with reuse and reduction programs — and you really should — then you may find your total waste generation drops and you are paying for more collection than you need. Your recycling vendor probably isn’t going to tell you that so be prepared to negotiate for a lower rate.
You don’t just want to recycle; you want to recycle successfully. A waste audit and recycling plan will go a long way to ensuring those recycle containers are a solid investment.