This article is sponsored by Rubicon.
Recycling has become an increasingly important part of environmental sustainability. Over the last couple of decades, many businesses have implemented sustainable practices in their operations to reduce the amount of waste they generate and to ensure that "unavoidable" waste is diverted away from landfills and into recycling streams.
Developing sustainable recycling practices across business sectors is an important move to reduce waste, conserve resources and lessen your environmental impact.
Here are seven key steps that your business can put in place to develop sustainable recycling practices:
One of the first things your business can do is to perform a material characterization study, also known as a waste audit, to better understand material streams and improve recycling practices.
Waste audits involve assessing the amount and composition of the materials your business no longer needs. This can help you identify areas where material recovery can be improved, as well as how to avoid creating waste in the first place. By performing material characterization studies, you can better understand how waste is generated and develop more effective recycling practices to manage material streams.
Retail regulated recycling programs
Many states have specific regulations that require retailers to recycle certain materials. Retailers must comply with these regulations and develop recycling practices that meet the requirements of the states in which they do business.
These regulations often include requirements for businesses to recycle materials such as cardboard, plastic and glass. Additionally, retailers may be required to provide recycling collection bins for customers. Setting up a system for collecting and sorting recyclable materials and properly disposing of waste can help your business meet its obligations and reduce its environmental impact.
Another way retailers can reduce their waste is through incentives. Offering discounts or rewards to customers who bring their own reusable bags and containers can encourage them to reduce their environmental footprint while simultaneously boosting customer loyalty. Retailers can also offer discounts to customers that bring recyclable materials to drop off locations.
In many cases, your business can take advantage of mailback programs for products such as electronics, batteries and other items that require special handling. Some of these programs are required by law. In other cases, mailback programs can help divert materials from the landfill in areas where diversion programs do not exist.
Mailback programs allow businesses to send products to a designated processor for proper recycling and disposal. This eliminates the need for your employees to handle and transport the products themselves, avoiding associated costs. Additionally, businesses can partner with organizations such as Rubicon that offer mailback programs to ensure that their products are managed in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Source separated organics
Organic waste is a major contributor to landfills. Source-separated organics recycling programs provide businesses with the opportunity to divert organic waste from landfills and into proper recycling streams. Businesses can designate a space for composting or partner with local composting facilities to handle organic waste. This can help to reduce environmental impact while also supporting local communities.
You can also encourage your employees and customers to recycle organics by providing information and education about composting and other technologies. Making information about organics recycling accessible can foster a culture of sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Packaged food waste
Diverting packaged food waste from landfills can reduce your business’s environmental impact and conserve resources. Composting is a regenerative way to recycle food waste while providing a valuable soil amendment for agricultural use.
Additionally, anaerobic digestion processes can be put in place to convert food waste into renewable natural gas, which can then be used to power homes and businesses. Your business can partner with local organics recyclers to ensure that its food waste is recycled in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Sustainable materials management, including zero-waste programs, involve analyzing the supply chain and product lifecycle to identify materials that can be reused, recycled or reduced to minimize waste.
Businesses can partner with organizations focused on sustainable materials management to ensure that materials are recycled responsibly and sustainably. You can also look into collaborating with your local community and other stakeholders to develop and implement sustainable materials management programs to reduce waste and conserve resources while protecting the environment.
Finally, look into e-scrap recycling options to properly manage your business’s electronic waste.
By partnering with a company that specializes in e-scrap recycling, you can ensure that electronic waste is recycled responsibly. These organizations provide safe, secure and environmentally friendly recycling services for all types of electronic items, including computers, monitors and cell phones .
Landfills across the country are rapidly reaching capacity, and it is therefore increasingly important to remain mindful of how we dispose of waste.
Download Rubicon’s report on how to create a nationwide recycling infrastructure to read examples of how Rubicon and our partners are working together to create a recycling infrastructure across the United States.
Ryan is speaking at GreenBiz 23 about "Barriers and Opportunities to Improving Recycling Across Sectors" at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 15. More information is available on the event page.
Ryan Cooper is vice president of circular economy solutions and the organics recycling lead at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, or contact us today.