WASTE REDUCTION & RECYCLING TIPS
FOR SHOPPING CENTERS AND MALLS
Shopping centers and retailers have a huge opportunity when it comes to recycling and waste management. Large retail centers that implement strategic programs can increase reuse and recycling and reduce waste disposal all while saving money in the process and protecting the local environment.
For shopping center and commercial retailers looking to get started, we’ve included case studies from national shopping centers who are leaders in waste prevention and recycling.
Whether the shopping center is starting from scratch or looking to expand the center’s recycling efforts, there are a number of critical steps to success in recycling at the commercial level.
- Obtain management support. The support of corporate management is critical—not only because a recycling program will require an investment of time and money, but also because the new program will lead to changes (e.g., new job responsibilities for some staff, or new procedures for shopping center employees and tenants). If corporate management is fully behind the recycling program, employees will be more likely to take the same outlook.
- Form a “green team.” Employees from all departments of the mall should be included . For example, the collection routines should involve the janitorial or grounds staff since they are involved in waste management and will likely be relied upon to put together different aspects of the recycling program.
- Assess your waste stream. Conduct a waste audit and get a handle on what is in the trash. Before you can decide which materials to collect or add to your recycling program a waste audit should be conducted for your mall or shopping center. A waste audit is a formal, structured process used to quantify the amount and types of waste being generated by a retailer or business center.
- Identify materials to be collected. Be sure to check local city and state regulations for each material as this varies across the country in terms or laws and requirements.
- Consider outside vendor participation. Allow recycling companies such as Goodwill access to use the shopping center parking lot to further recycling programs. This gives these additional waste management vendors a leg up in contributing to the environment.
- Determine collection program logistics. Go by what makes the most sense for your program. The Mall of America in Minnesota uses built-in chutes and rolling carts to move recyclables to the loading dock. Other retail centers have recycling programs so advanced they use motorized carts to pick up and transport recyclables to staging areas for storage or baling.
- Implement and manage your recycling program. Create procedures that keep employees informed not only about proper recycling procedures but also any and all revised routines that are implemented.
- Designate weekly or monthly follow up to ensure that procedures are being followed and further educate employees as necessary.
- Include recycling information in your orientation for new staff and in customer information packets.
Waste Reduction Tips
While recycling addresses items that have already become trash, waste management goes one step further in eliminating overall trash and disposal. Remember, waste that is never created does not have to be managed afterwards. Waste reduction is the practice of designing, manufacturing, purchasing, transporting, and using materials in ways that eliminate the amount of trash created. Reusing products is a key element of waste prevention, as it helps slow the entry of items into the waste stream.
Practicing waste management in the retail sector results in environmental stewardship and economic benefits. In addition to reducing the burden on landfills, waste prevention also helps conserve natural resources and reduces the energy and pollution associated with manufacturing.
For shopping center tenants, waste prevention strategies can translate into cost savings in a variety of areas other than waste disposal, including transport and labor. Retail tenants, especially major national retailers, are in the best position to execute waste prevention strategies.
When a shopping center or mall decides to initiate waste prevention practices in any of the target areas listed above, a targeted approach is important. The most critical component is a strong working relationship with retail suppliers. Suppliers often control the amount of packaging and materials used, but can be greatly influenced by the desires of retail customers.
If a retailer plans to initiate a new waste prevention program from scratch, it might be more feasible to start by focusing on one or two areas and growing as time and resources allow.
Home Depot Saves Big
In 1995, Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, conducted a thorough assessment of its transport packaging logistics and realized that it could significantly reduce the amount of wooden pallets it used. The company adopted a new corporate policy requiring its vendors to switch from the use of wooden pallets to plastic slipsheets. This switch has eliminated 36,000 tons of wood from the waste stream and saved Home Depot an estimated $2 million in the inaugural year of the slipsheet program.
Source: “Case Studies in Source Reduced and Reusable Transport Packaging,” Source Reduction Forum of the National Recycling Coalition, Inc. 1997
Taking Waste Reduction Seriously SouthPointe Pavilions is a 500,000 square foot outdoor lifestyle center located in Lincoln, Nebraska. The spacious facility is home to eight restaurants, 34 clothing and specialty stores, and a movie theater complex. By purchasing just one compactor, SouthPointe was able to recycle almost one ton of OCC per week. The facility soon added a second compactor. In 2003, SouthPointe recycled an average of 150 tons of OCC per week. The compacted cardboard is removed two to three times per week. While it costs $17.00 a ton to dispose of OCC in a landfill, SouthPointe avoids this cost by recycling and is able to save about $2,550.00 each year. SouthPointe Pavilions also recycles packaging polystyrene foam “peanuts” which are collected by the individual stores once a week. Neighboring mail stores and jelly and jam shops pick up the peanuts and reuse them for their own packaging needs. This process benefits all participants and the environment by helping reduce waste, especially during the holiday season. In addition to OCC and packaging materials, SouthPointe also manages the proper disposal of fluorescent lamps. The city requires special handling for fluorescent lamps because of the mercury they contain.
Source: Benchmark Report: Retail Recycling Project, Business for Social Responsibility, August 2002.Contributor / Editor - Matt Kennedy - Refer questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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