Starting a recycling program may not be easy but it’s worth it
By: Steve Christen "The Recycle Guy", Superior Telegram
Greetings to all you recycle–haulics!
It’s time again for me to put down my sorting bins and pen another article on the ever changing world of recycling.
So many of us are very adept at recycling what we produce from our homes on a weekly basis. Local entities, both city and county, have well thought out recycling plans for their citizens. These plans take into account volume, price and the population base they serve. Talk to any councilman, or county board member and they will tell you what appears to be a very simple process can be quite the daunting task when first taken on.
The same can be said for companies that are trying to create a recycling policy. Local companies as well as larger national firms, have unique issues to deal with. Those of you who have lived in other parts of the country (and no I don’t mean Solon Springs or Spooner) have no doubt seen various differences in recycling. In some cases, soda bottles and other plastic containers may have deposits on them. You redeem these deposits by bringing back the empty containers when you are finished and you receive your deposit back in the form of a rebate.
Recycling rules and regulations often differ from state to state. Take then a large company that operates in many different locations. It’s not hard to imagine the difficulties in establishing a companywide recycling program.
Let’s look at Southwest Airlines as an example.
Southwest knew that one of their biggest opportunities in recycling was to capture what actually comes off the plane. (Much of this resembles what we recycle residentially here). As simple as this sounds, some unique issues on the plane existed. Limited space (restricted sorting), and a busy crew schedule posed logistical problems.
Then there was the fact that every airport had different guidelines and procedures that needed to be followed.
What started off as a noble and fairly simple attempt to do basic recycling quickly became a huge number of issues that had to be solved before the first pop can could be recovered. In order to get employees to buy into the program, Southwest had to make this easy. They opted to go with a co-mingle collection system in the cabin. This made it much easier for the flight crew to collect the material. Southwest has over 25 provisional locations. These are the locations where the plane takes on supplies such as sodas and snacks.
After careful research Southwest decided to partner up with Republic Waste, a large national hauler that has yet to establish themselves here in the Twin Ports, but had established themselves in most of the provisional sites that Southwest services. Republic was what seems to be a good fit for Southwest. They are experienced at establishing large recycling programs, and they serviced many of the airports that Southwest uses.
Not only does Southwest see this effort as the right thing to do, but it made an impact on their bottom line.
Because many of the employees at Southwest are part owners, it made even the skeptics buy in with their efforts once they understood that they themselves benefited from this endeavor.
The biggest effort came in education. Educating so many people on following the program as it was laid out was an initial nightmare. And all new employees receive recycling training prior to assuming their new positions. Along with the actual recycling that comes off the plane, Southwest also recycles anti-freeze and deicing fluid, batteries and parts from equipment, Electronics, oils, scrap metal, fluorescent bulbs and ballasts, along with off specification fuel.
In comparison to a big company like Southwest, you would think that recycling in smaller businesses would be a breeze.
Often times however, small businesses have their own problems to solve. Room for additional containers or recycling bins can be a big problem for businesses with limited room. The cost factor of having a weekly pickup is another, especially when disposal may be much cheaper. Many cities have ordinances in place, and landfills are on the lookout for potentially recycled goods in the waste stream.
In today’s world it is not uncommon to find out that businesses produce more recycled materials than actual waste. Businesses are finding out that managing their waste is an ever-changing challenge. It’s important to stay in contact with your contracted hauler; they will keep you advised to new laws and changes in the recycling markets.
My call to action this month is if you own or manage a small business, contact your city or your hauler to find out what recycling options you have. Not only might you save some money, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing the right thing.
Once again, it is my pleasure to share this recycling information with all of you. Please keep your questions coming to “Ask the Recycle Guy” at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Portions of the above article were taken from the Sept. 3 issue of Waste and Recycling News.