While recycling is a great way to reduce your business’s waste disposal costs, the act of reducing and reusing can be even better. Reduce and reuse are at the top of the EPA’s Waste Management Hierarchy. Stopping waste before it is created eliminates the need for waste disposal and, when paired with recycling, can help your business reap more cost savings and improve efficiency.
If source reduction is such a smart business strategy, why is it often treated as an afterthought? A main reason is that it can be difficult to measure the act of creating less waste; it’s certainly more difficult to count than recycling.
One solution to this problem is to start small and measure and track reduction on a product-by-product basis. For example, if your focus is on paper reduction, monitor purchasing over time to evaluate whether less paper is needed for the office or set up a system to monitor how much paper is being used for printing over time. On a larger scale, source reduction is successfully measured on a per-person or facility weight-base. Weigh all waste (including recycling) and compare weights over a period of time to evaluate for a decrease attributable to source reduction.
While source reduction can seem like an intimidating challenge, there are simple ways to start reducing waste that only involve small changes in procedures and work habits. Here are some examples to get almost any business started:
- Print double-sided with smaller margins (0.75 works well)
- Use a central filing system for hard copies
- Circulate memos, periodicals, and reports rather than distributing individual copies
- Order merchandise with minimal packaging
- Switch to reusable transport containers
- Use rechargeable batteries
- Set up an area for employees to exchange used office supplies like file folders
For more information on how to incorporate source reduction into your business’s waste management program, contact Mary Cropenbaker.