This section describes the basic steps
to developing a recycling program. It is
designed to give you a sense of direction and a basic understanding
of how programs are developed and put in place.
Your goal is to develop a practical, cost-effective, recycling
plan that results in a SUSTAINABLE program in your facility.
KEY: INVOLVE YOUR EMPLOYEES AND PEOPLE FROM THE RECYCLING
INDUSTRY IN THE DESIGN OF YOUR PROGRAM FROM THE BEGINNING.
MAKE THEM YOUR PARTNERS.
Step 1: Select a recycling
Step 2: Conduct a waste
Step 3: Determine which
materials to collect for recycling
Step 4: Select your collection
Step 5: Design your collection
Step 6: Promote employee/tenant participation
Use the Recycling Action Plan Worksheet 5 (click to download
a PDF file containing Tables
and Worksheets) to lay out your program design and to
evaluate the costs and benefits to your business.
After you have gone through the basics in Steps 1
6, you can find additional information about:
Select a Recycling Coordinator (Step
Your recycling coordinator will need to have good communication
and organizational skills. Creativity, patience, persistence,
a sense of humor, and good rapport with other people in
your business are important character qualities.
If you are the owner or manager of a small business, you
will probably be the coordinator, at least in the beginning.
The coordinator will spend anywhere from a couple of days
to a couple of weeks getting your recycling program off
the ground. After that, he or she should need no more than
a few hours a month to monitor it.
A coordinators role typically includes:
- Conducting a waste audit and determining what to recycle
- Selecting the contractor
- Designing the collection system
- Educating employees
- Tracking the programs progress
Depending on the size of your business, you may also need
to designate area monitors to assist the coordinator in:
- Keeping the collection containers free of non-recyclable
- Notifying the coordinator if containers overflow
- Encouraging employee participation
Conduct a Waste Audit (Step 2)
The reason to conduct a waste audit is to find out whats
in your trash. It may not sound appealing, but it is the
quickest, most practical method. Also, who knows? You may
learn all kinds of interesting things about your business
when you find out what is going in the trash.
The waste audit will help you identify which materials
to collect for recycling, what size and type of containers
you will need, and what waste could possibly be prevented
in the first place (see Waste Prevention). Click here for
how to conduct
a waste audit, including worksheets to help
you through the process. Waste composition analyses of numerous
types of businesses are also provided.
As part of your waste audit be sure to find out if your
company or individual employees are already collecting any
materials for recycling. You might want to include existing
recycling activity in your collection system design.
Decide What to Recycle (Step 3)
Now that you know your trash intimately, its easier
to identify the recyclables. But how do you decide which
ones you should collect for recycling:
1. Call the Citys Recycling Office for up-to-date
information on current regulations which require recycling
for certain materials. The following materials have already
been BANNED or RESTRICTED from disposal facilities:
Bars and restaurants serving alcoholic beverages are
required to recycle glass.
- Green Waste (yard trimmings)
- Used Oil
- Corrugated Cardboard
- Scrap Metal
- Auto Batteries
Office buildings 20,000 square feet or more are
required to recycle office paper, newspaper and cardboard.
Hotels, restaurants, food courts, grocery stores, hospitals,
and food manufacturers who generate large volumes of
food waste are required to recycle food waste.
Go to Mandatory
Recycling Laws for more details.
2. Determine which materials are generated in sufficient
quantities to warrant collection in your recycling program.
For example, an auto repair shop would generate a lot of
metals and used oil, but only a small amount of office paper.
Although the office paper may be recyclable, the separate
collection of this paper may cost more in time and effort
than it is worth. Targeting the metals and used oil
for recycling makes much more sense. An office building,
on the other hand, should focus on paper and not be concerned
with the incidental metals in their trash.
3. Target materials with reliable markets. The following
materials are currently recyclable and have stable markets:
- Corrugated cardboard
- Food Waste
- Green Waste
- Office/Computer paper
- Plastic Beverage/Bottles
- Used Oil
The following materials can be recycled when a stable market
- Steel/tin cans -- 1
- Plastic (other)
1 -- Steel/tin cans, as well as other ferrous
metals, are magnetically extracted from the waste stream
at the H-POWER waste-to-energy facility and sold for recycling.
The following materials may be recycled and reused on your
premises with special equipment:
- Frying oil
4. Calculate the costs and benefits of recycling
the materials, compared to the costs of disposal.
Read through the next steps (4 and 5), and use the Recycling
Action Plan worksheet.
Select a Collection Contractor (Step
In selecting a collection contractor, you are looking for
good, reliable service at the best price. You can check
up on a contractors references to assess their service
record. However, evaluating the best price is not as straightforward.
The prices paid for recyclable materials vary with the type
of material and can fluctuate dramatically from month to
Moreover, your companys economic benefit from recycling
will probably come from reduced disposal costs, rather than
money paid to you from the sale of recyclables. More recycling
means less waste and lower disposal fees. If disposal costs
rise, businesses that recycle can expect greater savings.
Collection service can be provided by a refuse hauler,
company (or processor) or by a small collector.
A number of contracting scenarios are possible. For example:
1. If your refuse hauler provides both waste disposal
and recycling collection, they should be able to offer a
combined cost/pay structure. In other words, they would
charge you for the hauling of both refuse and recyclables
and credit you the current market value on the recyclables.
This can reduce your overall disposal costs or at least
provide a break-even arrangement.
2. A recycling company (or processor) may collect
and pay you for a material or collect it at no charge/no
pay, depending on the current value of each material.
A small collector will most likely provide no charge/no
pay service. If you select a recycler, you should discuss
lowering disposal costs with your refuse hauler, once
your recycling program is underway.
To select the best contractor for you, begin with your
current refuse hauler. Since he is already providing your
disposal service, it makes sense to start your recycling
service investigation here.
When you talk to the various companies to compare prices
and services, ask the following questions to help you make
your decision. Once you have made the selection, include
the information you have gathered in a written agreement.
- What materials do you collect?
- What materials do you purchase, and how much is paid
- Do you charge for collection of recyclables?
- If youre picking up trash and recyclables, what
will be the net savings in my disposal costs?
- Do you pick up on schedule or on call? If on schedule,
how often? If on call, how much lead time is needed?
- Do you provide collection and/or storage containers?
- Will you help us organize and promote our recycling
- Are you willing to sign a long-term agreement? (A one-year
minimum is recommended.)
- What is the allowable level of contamination? (Mixing
of non-recyclables with recyclables.)
- What are your reporting and accounting procedures?
(Weight ticket, bill of lading, remittance advice, etc.)
- How long have you been in business?
- Will you provide a list of client references we can
contact regarding the promptness, reliability, and quality
of your service?
If you are a tenant in a building or facility with other
tenants, ask your building manager if any recycling service
is already being provided for the building or for another
tenant. You may want to tie your program into an existing
service. You may also want to encourage your building manager
to help coordinate a building-wide effort.
If you have a small business, and at this point have determined
that you do not generate enough recyclable material for
pickup service, you can still recycle. Pool your efforts
with other businesses in your building, shopping center,
or block into centralized containers.
Design the Collection System (Step 5)
Containers and Locations
Transferring to Central Collection and/or
Storage Central Collection/Storage
KEY: MAKE IT AS SIMPLE AND EASY TO RECYCLE AS IT IS TO
The goal is to design a collection system that is convenient
for everyone and does not incur additional labor costs.
By following the guidelines, you will wind up with just
such a system for your business.
Containers and Locations
Make sure your recyclables can flow from individual employees
to area collection containers or directly to central collection/storage.
Place area recycling containers in convenient locations
normally frequented by employees. Copy machines are excellent
locations in most offices. Bus stations work well in restaurants.
Also place containers in areas that generate large amounts
of recyclables, such as data centers, printing facilities,
behind the bar, receiving departments.
Recycling containers should look distinctly different from
trash containers. Label them clearly to show what material
goes in them. Place regular trash cans nearby to avoid unwanted
trash getting mixed in with the recyclables.
To select the best containers for your needs, consider
the following: durability, cost, capacity, ease of handling,
and attractiveness. Check with local vendors on the types
and styles available. Look for ones made with some percentage
of post-consumer recycled plastic. Purchasing recycled-content
products is as important as collection. See a photo
list of recycling
While containers need to be convenient for everyone, you
also need to consider the work involved in emptying them.
Limit the locations to the minimum necessary to handle the
quantities generated. By keeping in mind the needs of both
employees and custodial or maintenance people you will find
an acceptable balance that works for everyone involved.
Transferring to Central Collection
KEY: INTEGRATE RECYCLING COLLECTION WITH EXISTING SYSTEMS.
The most efficient approach is to incorporate recycling
into your existing trash collection system. When introducing
your employees or maintenance people to the new program,
be sure they understand that they are handling the same
amount of materials. They are simply doing it in a reorganized
way. More material will be consolidated into a limited number
of recycling containers, while less will be left in trash
cans and wastebaskets.
KEY: DISTRIBUTE THE RESPONSIBILITIES.
The system can and should be designed so everyone does
a little. Then no single individual is overburdened, and
there should be no additional labor costs.
Employees "sort" recyclables as they put them
into the different area collection containers. Maintenance
staff empties these containers into central collection or
storage bins. The contractor then makes a quick, one-stop
Central Collection/Storage Area
Most large companies keep their main storage bins in the
basement or loading dock area. Determine the best location
for you with your building or facility manager and your
collection contractor, using these guidelines:
- Is the site large enough?
- Is there easy access to freight elevators and loading
- Does the area meet with local fire and building codes?
- Are sprinklers required/in place?
Also, ask your collection contractor whether he will provide
storage bins. If these will need to fit his collection vehicle
and his crew will be handling them, its usually best
that the contractor own them.
Promote Employee/Tenant Participation
Employees will participate if they are informed about the
program and its benefits. We recommend a three-step promotional
1. Program Announcement
Announce the start of the program with
a brief, upbeat memo. The memo serves as your companys
official announcement of its new program. In a large company
it should come from the president, CEO, or senior officer
to indicate managements enthusiastic support. In a
small business, it should come from the owner or manager.
Credibility is vital to the successful kick-off of your
The memo should highlight the benefits of the program to
everyone, outline the collection procedure, and give the
time for a meeting to formally introduce the recycling program
and answer questions.
2. Meeting/Educational Session
Encourage everyone to attend an information
session about the new program. You may wish to hold a separate
meeting or to combine it with a regular one. If combining
it, be sure the topic is last and that there is plenty of
time so that people feel it is important and can ask the
questions necessary for them to take ownership of the program.
The meeting should focus on the cooperative nature of recycling
and the importance of each individual to its continued success.
In a larger company, this meeting (and subsequent ones)
would be conducted by the recycling coordinator. In a small
business, it should be led by the owner or manager (unless
an employee is going to be the coordinator).
Highlight the main points of the program, taking care to
explain the separation and collection procedures. Emphasize
the benefits to the environment, the company and the employees.
If there is to be revenue from the program, take suggestions
about how to utilize it. For example, some companies donate
all or a percentage to charity. Others use it for office
parties or to offset building maintenance costs.
Follow-up can be done as a part of a regular
meeting agenda or with memos or newsletters. Be sure to
continue to remind people about what is and isnt recyclable.
Also, its good to repeat the DOs and DONTs and
benefits of recycling.
Consistency is the key to any successful program, and recycling
is no different. Reinforce yours by congratulating your
employees frequently--point out the successes. Note how
much is being taken out of the waste stream, how much was
donated to charity, how big the party fund is, and so on.
The point is to keep up the enthusiasm and involvement.