“Each person living or working in the Commonwealth shall be taught the economic, environmental and energy value of recycling and waste reduction and shall be encouraged through a variety of means to participate in such activities.”
PA General Assembly, in passing Act 101 of 1988
Did you know that if your business is located in any of the 17 largest municipalities in Westmoreland County, you are required by law (Act 101 Requirements-Commercial Recycling) to recycle? If not, you’re not alone. Many business owners don’t know about the law, and many municipalities don’t enforce it. But there are lots of other reasons to recycle than it just being the law.
Environmental “sustainability” (recycling, waste reduction, energy efficiency) has become quite the buzzword in businesses both large and small. While originally evoking thoughts of feel-good tree huggers, well-planned and implemented sustainability practices make sound economic and business practice, as well. A well-planned and implemented environmental sustainability program has all the upsides with very few downsides.
Implementing A Waste Reduction and Recycling Program
Whether you are just looking to establish a recycling program at your business or already have one in place, it’s always helpful to review the steps to a successful program. Numerous resources are available to help plan a successful program, but they all have one key component – top leadership buy-in. If the boss doesn’t believe in it or endorse it, it ain’t gonna fly. Next is employee buy-in. If you’re the boss and you can’t convince your employees to follow the guidelines, the program will fail and you’ll be left with an “I told you so.” But then you’d have bigger problems than just lack of a recycling program. Conversely, if you’re a committed employee (or group of employees), and you can implement a successful recycling and waste reduction program, you may just change the boss’s mind. Understanding human nature goes a long way toward getting your program off to a good start.
Assuming you’re starting from scratch, you’ll first want to gather some information about your needs. What exactly are you throwing away that might be able to be recycled? For that answer, you’ll want to perform a waste audit. You’ll be able to tell if most of what you dispose of is typical “household” recycling (bottles, cans, paper, cardboard), office waste (electronics, ink cartridges), or special waste (chemicals, wood waste, or other unique material). Once you determine what can be recycled, that will determine if you can contract the services of your regular trash/recycling hauler or if you will need a specialized recycling company.
Next, you determine what the best way to collect the recyclables will be: one recycling container per room, one at each employee workstation, one spot in a common storage area, etc. Will different collection containers be needed for different items? Who will be responsible for emptying the containers or arranging for their pick-up? The more thoroughly each step in the process is anticipated, the fewer the surprises and possible disappointments.
Educate your employees about the program prior to implementation, during initial start-up, and follow-up. Education is a constant process. Procedures might have to be changed if a vendor changes, due to employee turnover, or if something isn’t quite working smoothly. Keeping employees positive and engaged will more quickly achieve buy-in and behavior change than dictates from above.
Finally, record results. Has the volume of your trash decreased? Recycling increased? Any cost savings? (there may not be much to start with). Are you and your employees becoming more aware of the actual amount of “stuff” being thrown away? Are there alternatives to using “stuff” that mostly ends up as trash anyway? Are employees offering suggestions for additional items that could be recycled? reused? Once you divert everything that can be recycled from the waste stream, you’ll be amazed at how little trash you really have. You may even reduce your garbage bill!
Lots of management training courses talk about good leadership, employee engagement, and customer relations, as well as a good product, as keys to success. Something as simple as a shared commitment to environmental stewardship can add to that positive experience and help tie everything together.
Westmoreland Cleanways And Recycling – Assistance Available
As Certified Recycling Professionals, we provide, at no cost:
- technical assistance to help plan and implement your program
- a waste audit to analyze your current waste stream
- loaner 22-gallon recycling bins to get you started
- Educational support: brochures, fliers, kick-off program for employees, etc.
Additionally, depending on the size of your business, contracting for recycling service may not be worth the additional cost, depending on available haulers. Westmoreland Cleanways’ Recycling Center offers a convenient, no-cost option for businesses to recycle, to reduce waste, to comply with the law, and to protect our environment.
Westmoreland Cleanways Recycling Center
355 Pleasant Unity Mutual Road
Greensburg, PA 15601
Items that CAN be recycled at the Recycling Center include:
- Paper (white office paper, corrugated cardboard, newsprint, magazines, other grades of paper)
- Electronics (computer, monitors, printers, copiers, UPS, cords, telephone equipment, etc.)
- Additional items to be added over time
No matter what size your business or how complicated your waste stream, Reduce/Reuse/Recycle is ALWAYS the best practice.