top view of trash bins and assorted garbage isolated on grey, recycle concept

Businesses across the country are responsible for approximately half of the 254 million tons of trash generated in the U.S. every year. Although the EPA estimates that 75 percent of the waste stream is recyclable and many businesses already have recycling programs in place, only about 30 percent makes its way to recycling plants.

To reduce the amount of trash businesses generate, ManageMen has a few recommendations. First and foremost, source reduction is essential. Here are a few tips on how to achieve this step.

Facilities can also reduce downstream solid waste with a few simple steps:

Reuse: For instance, materials received for inbound shipments might be able to be used for outgoing shipments. Plus, you might also be able to partner with a local business that can reuse things like plastic bottles or old buckets.

Recycle: Efforts can include single stream (all items go into the same bin and the recycler handles sorting), paper and cardboard, or source separation (sorting materials at the facility).
Compost: Organic waste, such as certain types of food scraps, yard waste and even some types of containers can be composted and used as a fertilizer.

A good first step to identifying ways to reduce downstream waste is to conduct an audit of the current waste stream, which establishes a benchmark for the program. The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager — which tracks a facility’s rate, energy and water use over time — is a good place to start. 

If you’re just beginning a recycling program, focus on basic items such as paper and/or plastic. More advanced programs might look at options for composting food waste, which help reduce the amount of methane gas emitted from landfills, the article said.

For more information on controlling waste streams, turning trash into a revenue stream and launching a composting program, click here.