Managers might ask themselves, what about the costs and savings of recycling programs? Many municipalities offer discounts for recyclable materials when compared to landfill disposables.

According to the Salt Lake City Recycles website, tipping fees for recyclable materials are estimated to be as much as 40 percent less expensive than tipping fees for landfill materials. This is just one example. There may be similar incentives available in other local municipalities.

Think about it — there is a finite amount of space in local landfills, and it is in everyone’s best interest to divert materials. Doing so can help the landfill last as long as possible.

According to King, “There’s the actual financial cost savings of diverting materials from the landfill. Also, most recyclables — if collected and sorted properly — still have value. There’s also the cost of the intrinsic value of the materials not being recycled but buried or burned.”

For example, when paper is recycled, it can be converted back into paper. However, once it is mixed with landfill or burned, it loses all its value and can no longer be reused.

“It’s important to understand recyclables need to be treated as a commodity in the marketplace,” says King. “Recyclables are not all the same. For example, an aluminum can does not have the same value as a plastic bottle, yet we call both of them recyclables. We need to buy items that can be recycled back into the same items (i.e. circular economy) in order to create value.”

Managers looking to determine value will also need to consider fees associated with recycling. For example, recycling pick-up fees will change depending on the items collected, the weight and volume of each item, as well as the overall weekly or monthly volume.

“Some facilities may see a credit related to their [waste management] service due to the amount of recyclable material being collected,” says Hedlund.

There is no doubt that there are increasing challenges to managing an effective waste diversion and recycling program in 2019. However, by understanding the materials which can be recycled in the local municipality, deploying clearly marked bins placed in a way which promotes their use, providing education to building occupants on what is recyclable and what isn’t, and celebrating successes, the facility can help divert waste from the landfills and make a positive impact in the community.

Keith Schneringer is the Director of Channel Marketing and Sustainability at WAXIE Sanitary Supply, a jan/san distributor based in San Diego, California. 

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