Knowing Your Waste
There are a variety of methods for identifying and controlling your waste stream. Every business is unique, even within the same industry, even within the same chain. Only you can truly know the amount and types of materials you discard. Review the four methods of waste identification listed below and choose the one which best fits your business in order to determine how much waste your business acquires. These methods will help your business discover what can be eliminated through reduction, reuse and recycling.
Methods of Waste Identification:
Complete some formulas based upon the number of employees in any business. This results in an estimate of your total waste and recyclable paper generation.
KIS-Keep It Simple
Keep It Simple is probably the easiest method of waste identification. A visual inspection coupled with a year's worth of garbage bills from your current contractor.
An up-close and personal review of exactly what you and your employees are putting in the garbage. This can be the most detailed and time consuming of the methods, but it is also the most accurate.
The Purchase Principal
A review of one year's worth of purchasing records to discover just how much (and which) materials you purchase. Then consider your disposal generation based on those purchases.
*If none of these methods seem to fit your business, you may also want to Involve Your Disposal Contractor.
After using one of the methods to learn more about your waste stream, you may have discovered that some items are not easily or inexpensively recycled. Yet you have a large quantity of them and they are a disposal cost. You may wonder if there is something else that can be done to eliminate them from your waste.
Naturally, each item may have unique tendencies, such as a pallet that is different from standard size, or a high volume of commodities that the manufacturer offers credit for if destroyed rather than returned. Only you know the circumstances and materials to target.
Some waste items are best returned to the manufacturer or supplier whenever possible. Due to their nature, they may have many types of material involved that require skill to dissemble before recycling options exist.
Some waste items are reusable, there may be employees that would be glad to take them home or give them to organizations (such as old magazines to nursing homes or plastic items for craft projects, paper used on one side may be great for a day care or school coloring opportunity).
Other items fit into an established network of organizations that accept donations. Items, such as unused food could be given to a local soup kitchen or food pantry. Clothing can be given to numerous groups to be made available to disaster victims, the poor or sent to poverty stricken people in other countries.
Product overruns and off-spec items may be reused or donated depending upon the situation. Some companies use a Material Exchange to dispose of large quantities of such items. Remodeling processes often result in many reusable and donatable products. Consider other options before paying for more disposal.