Think small businesses can save big by better management of their waste disposal and recycling practices? The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an entire section of their website dedicated to case studies and success stories of what small, independently owned businesses have done to go green and save green! Here are just a few examples:
- In Grand Rapids, Minnesota, a small newspaper printing business encouraged all employees to use materials efficiently. By reusing and recycling, the company saw huge savings by reducing the amount of solid and hazardous waste in needed to send to landfills and pay disposal fees for, and cutting back on the amount of raw materials it needed to purchase. The business reduced it amount of solid waste by ninety-seven percent and saved over two hundred and fifty pounds of ink each year. The amount of money saved in one year exceeded twenty two thousand dollars and the cost to makes these changes was zero.
- In Ligonier, Indiana, a manufacturing business reduced their textile waste by two tons by laundering and reusing gloves instead of throwing them away. The business also switched to reusable wiping cloths instead of buying paper towels. The total savings experienced was thirty five thousand dollars.
- Applied Specialties in Ohio made the switch to re-manufactured toner cartridges for their printers and fax machines and saved six hundred dollars. By requiring email, digital storage of documents and double-sided printing, paper costs were reduced by over three hundred dollars.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Whether your business is big or small, blue-collar, white-collar, service, technical, professional or something in-between, you can take inspiration and ideas away from these success stories. Reducing waste and boosting recycling saves money and the environment – you just need to find the right combination of strategies and plans that will work for you, your industry, and your employees!
The international airport in St. Louis, Missouri succeeding in doubling its waste materials recycling rate during the first six months of an innovative new recycling program. As a result of this increase, the airport is now adding additional single-stream recycling bins to help boost the rate even further.
In a report released last year, the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport said that prior to the new program, the recycling rate for the facility’s terminal and concourse operations was at a very low ten percent. After implementing the single-stream containers, the rate then jumped up to twenty percent. Airport officials stated that they have long experienced higher recycling rates for the construction waste, runway waste, and scrap metal that other parts of the facility generate, but that the current concern was the lower rate attained by the areas travelers and the general public utilize.
In addition to increasing the number of locations where recycling containers are placed, the airport also moved to make recycling easier for busy travelers by switching to a single-stream waste collection system. Thus removing the burden of separating recycling items from the individual moving through the airport. The decision was also made to launch a food recycling program involving airport restaurants and food providers to convert food scraps and unsold meals into agricultural compost.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: In addition to looking at your overall recycling numbers, it can be helpful to break down your rate into different segments. Is your business doing great at recycling paper but not plastics or e-waste? Sometimes, a high performing area can overshadow one that is underachieving. By helping to boost an under-performing recycling area you might be surprised how much money you’ll save!
It’s taken close to nine years, but the Louisiana city of New Orleans is now officially re-launching curbside recycling services for both residents and businesses living and operating in the Central Business District and French Quarter of the city.
The waste recycling services will be available for all residents and small businesses in those neighborhoods starting at the end of January, 2014. It is estimated that over four thousand residential and business locations will be eligible for the curbside recycling pick-ups. All recycling services are expected to happen on a weekly schedule for those in the target neighborhoods. Waste materials that will be accepted for recycling include all forms of paper, paperboard and cardboard, plastic beverage and food containers, and metal containers and cans.
Recycling services to these areas have been suspended since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. The Sanitation Department for the city is currently distributing eighteen-gallon size bins to residents and businesses at no additional cost. While these recycling bins are slightly smaller than those used in other neighborhoods the city hopes they will be easier to use and store for businesses and homes with limited space.
Curbside recycling services are currently available in other neighborhoods of the city for residential properties and small businesses. Residents in the historic French Quarter and Central Business District had been lobbying local officials that inclusion of their neighborhoods were necessary components to help the area achieve its municipal sustainability goals.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Whether it’s your town or business, it’s important to include everyone in your waste disposal and recycling plans. Every person, no matter where they’re located, is going to generate trash – and if you’re not making an effort to increase recycling and re-use, that’s money and profit coming out of your bottom line!
The Court of Appeals in California has recently upheld the city of San Francisco’s law banning the use of single-use and thin-film plastic bags in restaurants, grocery stores, delis, and retail shops doing business within the city limits.
The court’s upholding of the law now establishes a legal precedent that additional California cities may use as they attempt to create regulations that are modeled after the San Francisco one. San Francisco’s ban applies to all non-compostable plastic bags that a business would give to a customer upon checkout as well as imposing a ten-cent fee on other types of bags, such as paper or compostable plastic, that the business would provide to customers.
San Francisco first started its plastic bag ban back in 2007, which was directed at chain supermarkets and pharmacies. The law now applies to all retailers as well as retail food establishments. The law was opposed by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, based in Los Angeles, claiming that banning plastic bags violates health and sanitation standards. It is unknown if the group will appeal the decision to a higher court. However, as the public approval for limiting plastic bags use increases throughout the state, it has become easier for both small and large communities to enact regulations that limit and restrict the use of plastic bags that cannot be recycled.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Even if your town or municipality doesn’t have regulations about plastic bag use what are you doing to limit your use of plastics that cannot be recycled or re-used? As more and more customers look to support environmentally friendly businesses, you may find that you’ll make more “green” when you adopt green-friendly business practices!
International beverage group, Dr Pepper Snapple has recently renewed its corporate partnership with the Keep America Beautiful non-profit group with a commitment to issue three hundred thousand dollars worth of environmentally focused grants to assist community groups, schools, and municipalities to provide beverage bottle recycling bins and collection centers to consumers.
The Connecticut-based Keep America Beautiful recently announced the funding agreement with the Texas-based beverage and bottling manufacturer. The new funding will provide for a second year of the Keep America Beautiful Parks Recycling Grant Program, which helps to provide recycling bins in public parks of all sizes throughout the United States and promote education and public awareness campaigns to encourage citizens to recycle when visiting recreational areas.
The grant program is currently accepting applications from those agencies interested in obtaining recycling bins on its website. Non profit environmental groups affiliated with Keep America Beautiful are eligible to submit a request as well as all government agencies at the state and local levels that are responsible for recycling activities in recreational areas such as parks, community green spaces, playgrounds, athletic fields, and public green-ways.
In the grant’s first year of operation, over seven hundred recycling bins were placed in parks, athletic fields, neighborhood green-space, beaches, and walking trails. The program provided thirty three grants to agencies in twenty three states in all regions of the country.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If you’re looking to keep your municipality clean and reduce waste, installing more recycling bins can help. Grant opportunities can help you save twice: once when you receive a bin for no charge and then again when you have less trash to dispose of in landfills!
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requiring a Hudson, New Hampshire manufacturer to pay fines and institute new hazardous waste materials policies to ensure the safety of their employees and the community it does business in.
Presstek, Inc., a manufacturer of printing equipment has agreed to the fine of over one hundred and sixteen thousand dollars and the requirement to improve its internal policies and procedures so they comply with federal and state laws including the the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Earlier in 2013, during a routine inspection, the EPA issued a complaint against Presstek that it was failing to adhere to hazardous waste emission regulations; failing to implement an acceptable personnel training program for hazardous waste; and was not maintaining an acceptable hazardous waste emergency plan.
All businesses handling hazardous waste must routinely demonstrate that their operating facilities manage such waste in an environmentally acceptable manner to prevent accidental spills and releases into the air, water or ground that could endanger the environment and human health. Manufacturing facilities that produce hazardous wastes during their normal operations must ensure that waste is properly managed, stored, and disposed of.
Since acknowledging the violations, Presstek has improved its hazardous waste emergency plan and enacted a training program that comply with regulations. The company is also implementing better monitoring systems to control air emissions from the facility.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Hazardous waste is something every business needs to take seriously. Failure to comply with your state and federal laws could result in big fines, bad publicity, and a loss of revenue. Cutting corners with hazardous waste disposal will not save you money you the long run!
The city of Denver, Colorado has once again expanded its residential food scraps and organic waste composting program.
Denver Composts reported that last year the program more than doubled the residents served by its program through an increase of over two thousand five hundred homes in the city. Denver Composts is a collaboration between the city’s Public Works Department and the Office of Environmental Health.
Currently, the composting program charges a subscription fee for its service to residents living in the neighborhoods where pick-ups are scheduled. The cost is slightly less than thirty dollars for three months of service or a little over one hundred dollars for the entire year. The cost of the composting does not appear to be a deterrent to participation in those areas where the service is offered.
Residents in the target areas who enroll in Denver Composts are provided with a a two-gallon kitchen pail and a large green compost bin. Denver Recycles has weekly picks up for the composting materials which collects food, yard debris, and non-recyclable paper for composting.The program began five years ago with a little over two thousand participating homes and has been carefully monitored to ensure financial stability and sustainability.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Composting food waste and organic material is becoming a big issue for cities, towns, businesses, and homes. Even if your municipality doesn’t currently offer curbside composting, with a little effort you may be able to find a outside business that is interested in converting your food waste into compost or bio-fuel. You might just be able to save some “green” while going green with your waste materials!
Is your business or municipality looking to purchase new vehicles in the coming year? The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a free Green Vehicle Guide to give businesses, government agencies, and individuals details regarding the environmental performance of vehicles. Users can compare up to three vehicles and customized searches can be performed based on numerous criteria across different vehicle classes.
The EPA provides both fuel economy numbers and a 1-10 scale rating. The larger the number, the more environmentally friendly the selected vehicle is. In addition to complex searches, the Guide also provides a simple “Smart Way” designation which indicates vehicles with the best overall environmental performance. In addition, you can search for specific criteria such as fuel economy, cylinders, and engine size. This is particularly helpful for those businesses or local governments that need a specific kind of vehicle for extreme weather conditions or transporting equipment and materials.
If you’re researching vehicles to be purchased by a government agency, the Guide also provides a special, Federal Acquisition search designation. This allows government agencies and offices to search for cars or trucks meeting or exceeding the requirements of Section 141 of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. This Act mandates all federal agencies to acquire vehicles that meet specific emissions and environmental standards.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Reducing waste is more than just trash and recyclables! If you’re looking to save money and be more environmentally friendly, take a look at the vehicles your business maintains and how much money you spend each year on gas, insurance, and upkeep. When it comes time to replace or upgrade, the EPA Green Guide can help you make a smart choice!
In a recent survey commissioned by the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), the results showed that a majority of Americans want to recycle more of their waste materials but don’t always know how and what can be recycled and how to properly separate and dispose of materials that can be.
The online research survey which was conducted earlier in 2013, reported that eighty two percent of Americans have positive feelings of community pride when they recycle, and close to sixty two percent admitted to feeling guilty when throwing recyclable items such as newspaper, plastic bottles and glass containers into the trash. The survey also showed that close to seventy five percent of Americans make an effort to recycle when they are at airports, sporting events, schools and public parks, and other locations outside of their home or apartment. Close to sixty percent said their business or place of employment has recycling options available to them.
However, respondents acknowledged that if a recycling bin is not close by, more than half will dispose of that item into the trash. The other half said they would hold on to the item until they had a means to properly recycle it. The hardest places and times to recycle, with less than twenty five percent participation include vacations, dining at restaurants without recycling options, and walking in cities that don’t provide recycling bins alongside trash containers.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If you’re trying to cut costs and boost your businesses waste recycling rate, ask your employees and customers what would be convenient and accessible for them. Would more recycling bins help? Are there opportunities for new types of recycling such as collecting food scraps or organic waste for composting and biogas? You’ll never know how much waste and energy you can save until you ask!
Two recent high court decisions in the state of Pennsylvania could have a lasting and positive impact for both residential homeowners, landlords, and businesses trying to reduce their levels of trash by increasing their output of recyclable materials.
The Commonwealth Court recently sided in favor of a waste hauler in Reading, Pennsylvania who was charged by the local court for owing past-due recycling fees. The court stated that recycling services should be self-sufficient based on the revenue generated through the re-sale of waste materials to manufacturers and other outfits, such as large-scale food waste composting, who wish to purchase them.
Currently, the state of Pennsylvania does not have a legally approved mandate in place explicitly addressing and outlining fees for recycling services provided through regional landfills. If one were to be put in place, it would need to be done through the state’s General Assembly.
In another recent Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania case, involving a different county, the court also sided with businesses and residents by affirming that the municipality named could not charge tipping or permit fees at county landfills for recycled materials brought in by those living or working in the area.
Waste Care Wants You to Remember: If your business or home is in a state that mandates no fees for recycling, you get to save twice. Once when you make the decision to recycle waste material instead of putting it in the garbage and another when you haul all that recyclable material away without charge. If your municipality is still charging fees for in-demand recyclable materials like glass, plastics, and paper, it’s time to ask some questions about where the materials are being sold and how the funds are accounted for!