Virginia Town Doubles Recycling Rate

A city in the state of Virginia has improved its recycling and reduced waste disposal by making one simple change: increasing the size of recycling containers for curbside recycling services.

City administrators in Colonial Heights, Virginia have been amazed at the results since requiring the use of a ninety six gallon recycling container starting July 1 of 2012, instead of the smaller bin which had been used previously.

After one full year of data collection, the city’s seventeen thousand residents improved their recycling rate by an additional five hundred and forty tons of waste materials. Curbside recycling also doubled with an estimated sixty percent of all households participating.

But the biggest reward has been the amount of savings the city has seen. By enhancing recycling, Colonial Heights saved two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The funds will be used to purchase new playground equipment, make enhancements to the public safety communication system, and complete some renovation work on the town’s baseball field.

In addition, residents earned redeemable points and coupons every time they put out their recycling cart. The points could then be used at participating local restaurants and stores. The business involved with the recycling program reported an extra eighteen thousand dollars in new business as a result of the partnership.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Everybody wins when waste disposal decreases and waste recycling increases! Not only did Colonial Heights save money which it can use for other community projects, but residences and businesses were rewarded with coupons, perks, and new customers. Wouldn’t a similar system be great to have in your town? It’s possible!

EPA Offers Assistance To Small Communities

If you’re an elected official or municipal employee of a small community, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a special program and assistance for complying with environmental regulations and policies. Small towns and villages often do not have the financial, technical or managerial oversight to keep environmental violations from occurring – despite best efforts. Additionally, local governments of this size may not have easy access to environmental professionals and elected officials may not be aware of environmental requirements.

To improve compliance awareness in small communities, the EPA has created a framework for environmental responsibilities, information needed to correct non-compliance issues, and strategies for achieving and sustaining on-going compliance.

Some of the environmental compliance resources that are available to small local governments include:

  • checklists
  • compliance guides
  • training for staff
  • grant-writing tutorials
  • mentoring programs

When small towns are told of noncompliance issues, they often do not know how to correct the problem because a violating operation may be an essential one to the community. Additionally, have a small tax base also limits the funds available to make improvements that could relieve non-compliance and improve the environmental quality for all residents.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: There are wonderful quality of life benefits to living in a small town, but having the funds and resources to ensure compliance with federal environmental regulations can be a challenge. If you’re a resident, business owner, or local government employee in a small community take a look at the resources available through the EPA. They might be able to help you avoid fine and penalties while improving the quality of life for everyone!



Is Your Business Recycling Cartons?

Are you responsible for waste disposal operations and recycling for a restaurant, grocery store, school, or commercial building? If your facility routinely disposes of paperboard beverage cartons for milk, juice, liquids, and other beverages you may want to make sure you’re properly recycling them. Cartons are available in two types: refrigerated and shelf-stable. Refrigerated cartons are often used for milk, fruit juice, cream and dairy products, and egg substitutes. Shelf-stable cartons do not require prior refrigeration and are often used for fruit and vegetable juice, milk, milk substitutes such as soy, almond, or rice milk, soups and wine.

Right now, more than fifty one million American residential households and forty five states accept beverage cartons through curbside and drop off recycling programs. Alabama is the latest state to join in offering residents and businesses this kind of recycling. There has been a strong increase in carton recycling over the last three years when only twenty six states offered it.

Recycled carton have value in that they can be manufactured into various paper tissue products, paper goods, and building materials. The Carton Council, which helps states and municipalities establish recycling programs, works to promote carton recycling and divert used cartons from local landfill. The Carton Council does offer a mail-in program for those individuals living in areas that have not yet adopted carton recycling.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Recycling innovations and policies are always changing and being updated so it’s important to stay aware of what’s happening in your city and state. Do you typically dispose of your empty cartons by throwing them into the trash? You might be pleasantly surprised to discover from the Carton Council that they can be recycled!

Using Surveys To Reduce Waste

The Department of Health and Environment in the state of Kansas is opting to use an online survey to evaluate the state’s practices to reduce solid waste and make recommendations for what needs improvement. Kansas defines solid waste as all refuse, including garbage, tires and discarded materials from agricultural, commercial, industrial, and domestic activities.

The survey will be collecting both residential and commercial-owners’ thoughts on recycling services, how to properly dispose of e-waste, and if taxes on paint and mattresses should be imposed to help fund waste reduction programs.

The state’s Bureau of Waste Management is administering the survey and collecting all information. The survey will be available to all through mid-August.

In addition to the survey, the Department of Health and Environment will also be collecting and preparing information about state-wide trends in composting, recycling, and waste disposal.

The final report will be delivered to the Legislature in early 2014 and help policymakers decide if new regulations are needed to improve waste management and recycling practices.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: When your business is looking to evaluate waste management and recycling practices, it’s a smart move to go directly to your employees and ask them what is working and what could be improved. When you engage all members of your team in cutting costs and going “green” you have a better chance of success!


Save Money With Green Office Technology

If you’re looking to save your business money by reducing waste and enhancing recycling and other environmentally friendly practices, take a look at the resources provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Here are just a few of the suggestions you can try to incorporate “green” practices at work:

  • “Green” your printer by changing your settings to print double-sided pages. Use small type sizes when available and choose the “draft” option when printing to use less ink.
  • Use e-billing programs to pay routine bills for services and utilities when possible to save on postage.
  • Instead of printing paper copies of documents to store in paper file folders, save them to a computer or external device to keep records.
  • When shopping around for new cell phones or other electronics, look at leasing programs that includes proper recycling as part of the service contract.
  • Recycle or donate old cell phones and computers.
  • Re-use old documents as scrap paper
  • To encourage employees to recycle paper, make sure designated bins are easily accessible.
  • Reuse inter-office envelopes and file folders by putting a blank label over old information.
  • Use refillable tape dispensers instead of single serving ones.
  • Instead of printing labels for items such as a return address, use a customized rubber stamp and ink pad.
  • Encourage employees to use public transportation or car pooling to save on gas and pollution generation.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If you want to save money in the office, it’s important to get all of your employees involved. Solicit suggestions and ideas from them and respond to their requests. Could the front office staff use recycling bins for paper? Does your sales force have an idea for reducing the cost of their cell phones? You never know who might be able to generate the biggest money saving idea!

Does Your Business Have WaterSense?

Regardless of whether your business if commercial, industrial, or institutional, you are going to be using water every day. Did you know that regular, publicly supplied water usage in facilities such as schools, hotels, hospitals, restaurants, retail locations, and office buildings can amount to more than seventeen percent of the business’ expenses and eighteen percent of all energy use by businesses in this country. Cutting back on water use by using water-efficient products and services and adopting good water conservation practices in business facilities can have a significant impact in helping to reduce water use and fees faced by businesses and communities.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can assist your business reduce water use through its WaterSense program. Here are just a few of their suggestions:

1) Install WaterSense rated products such as water tanks, toilets, and water filters in your building.
2) Vigilantly monitor your building water use through careful analysis of your water meter to give early indications of leaks.
3) Review management and operations practices to identify areas where water use could be reduced or more effectively managed (example: do automatic lawn sprinkler systems go on when it’s raining?).
4) Stay up-to-date on best practices, new innovations, and case studies within your industry.
5) Incorporate ENERGY STAR available products to help track water and energy use and quantify both reductions in water and energy as well as cost savings.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Waste water costs your business money so it’s worth exploring ways to minimize water use and maximize the re-use of gray water. You’ll be able to save “green” every month by going green and opting to protect the environment with your water and energy choices!

EPA Funding Opportunities For U.S./Mexico Border

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently announced that a sum of nearly nine hundred thousand dollars will be available as grant funds to eligible municipalities and non-profit organizations as part of the Border Environmental Funding program. Target areas in the US include Mexico border communities in the states of Texas and New Mexico.

The EPA will fund grant proposals to projects that seek to improve the monitoring of air quality; develop innovative applications for reusing water; enhancing bilingual community outreach to curb and eliminate illegal dumping; and improving cross-border understanding of compliance codes and enforcement policies. The EPA has a strong interest in funding projects that incorporate other resources and can demonstrate positive results.

The goal of the Border 2020 Program is to protect, preserve, and enhance the environment and human health throughout the Mexico/US border region. The grant funds are designed for both US and Mexican non-governmental group, local and state municipalities, industry associations, schools and universities, and native tribes in both countries.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Looking for grant funding can be a great way for your city, town, or professional group to make a big jump forward in reducing waste and enhancing recycling and reuse systems. It pays to look for opportunities that meet your needs and then submit a proposal. Securing funding not only can help you to meet your goals, but can also give you some very positive publicity!

California Reduces Landfill Use

Tor the seventh straight year, residents and business owners in the state of California are throwing away less waste materials and garbage in their landfills.

In a recent report from California’s CalRecycle (the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery), it was published that throughout the state, slightly over twenty nine million tons of garbage were disposed of in landfills in the year 2012. That averaged out to a little over four pounds per person per day and down slightly from 2011 when close to thirty million tons of trash was disposed of. What is most impressive is that in addition to the amount of waste decreasing, the total population in the state of California saw an increase of close to three hundred thousand people over the year.

CalRecycle has a state-wide recycling goal of seventy five percent so year over year improvements in waste recycling and waste reduction are essential. California has seen steady progress on meeting this recycling goal since 2005. In that year, forty two and one half million tons of waste materials were discarded. Unlike other states, California’s waste stays “at home” with ninety nine percent of all trash going to landfills in the state. Only one percent of all garbage is shipped outside of state lines.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If your business is looking to cut costs and improve recycling, it’s important to have both long-term and short-term goals. Set a target of where you would like to be in five years and then develop smaller steps to get there. Evaluate your progress monthly or quarterly and make changes as needed. You’ll soon be saving money on waste disposal fees and helping to preserve the environment!

Zero Waste Achieved For Brewer

It was recently announced that MillerCoors brewing in Golden, Colorado has become the largest brewery in the United States to achieve zero waste status. MillerCoors joins four other landfill-free breweries in this designation. The company anticipates that an average of one hundred and thirty five tons of waste is being diverted from landfills on a monthly basis.

MillerCoors started on a strategic, environmental and cost-savings plan to reduce their municipal waste generated at the Golden production facility in 2011. In addition to changes and improvements in their production process, the company invested close to one million dollars in new equipment and infrastructure updates.

The brewery now recycles or reuses one hundred percent of the waste it generates, including all plastics, glass, metal, paperboard, and brewing products such as spent grain. Cafeteria waste and floor sweepings are sent to a waste-to-energy facility instead of landfills.

MillerCoors officials are hopeful that the success of attaining zero waste designation will be scale-able to their other facilities throughout the country and North America.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: When you want to reduce your waste and increase your recycling, the most important thing to have is a plan. Start with a few areas that are easier to tackle – like paper recycling and proper e-waste disposal – and then move on to areas that may require new business policies or employee behavior changes. Incremental changes will slowly grow and in a few years your company might be attaining zero waste status as well!

Improving Food Waste Diversion

There is a very big difference in levels of food waste recycling when you compare rates achieved by food manufacturers and those of food retailers or wholesalers. The gap is close to forty percent based on a recent study done by the  Food Waste Reduction Alliance.

The study analyzed data from 2011 from thirteen food manufacturers and thirteen grocery retailers and wholesalers. The findings showed that food manufacturers donated or recycled almost ninety five percent of their food scraps or waste. Grocery stores and wholesalers diverted a little over fifty five percent of food scraps and waste generated. However, food manufacturers often generate more food waste overall while retailers often face legal barriers or geographical challenges to recycling or donating unwanted food.

Close to seventy five percent of all diverted food waste from manufacturers was used for animal feed, whereas grocery stores and wholesalers primarily donated food to social service organizations or composting locations.

Both industries combined were responsible for sending over four billion pounds of food waste to landfills or incinerators.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If you’re in the food business, be it a grocery store, restaurant, catering enterprise, or food manufacturer, it pays to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to compost food waste or donate uneaten food to local social service organizations helping the disadvantaged. Food waste is a very hot topic these days as more and more businesses want to reduce their waste disposal fees and new avenues to recycle and divert are coming available!