Recycle, with an eye on the budget

The U.S. EPA presents a compelling case for recycling. Looking back a decade, their 2016 Recycling Economic Information (REI) Report found recycling and reuse activities that produced 757,000 jobs while contributing $36.6 billion in wages. For every 1,000 tons of recycled material, 1.57 jobs were created. Construction and Demolition waste provided the greatest employment benefits.

Well-run recycling programs cost less than landfills and incinerators. Costs decrease as volumes increase.

Recycling has minimal repercussions, day-to-day, while steadily returning savings on waste removal and landfill fees. Consider these quick-wins to reduce initial capital outlay to near-zero. Then begin enjoying customer and employee goodwill by supporting sustainability and resiliency.

Recycling bins

The initial costs can be as low as zero, if existing waste containers are converted to recycling bins. Ideally, the containers should be of a similar appearance. That way they are recognized at several locations.

For a more luster and easiest recognition, bins are available from many competing sources. You can check out some of the prices here:

If bins aren’t in the budget, empty shipping boxes or printer paper cartons are a practical start. They are likely to be plentiful, and their size and appearance seldom varies.

Labels for recycling bins

A clear, attractive label will transform an empty carton from trash to a recycling container. Recycle Across America offers low-cost labels for varied material types and container sizes. Even with many variations, the labels are standardized for easy recognition.

Several Pinterest boards offer free label designs along with links to commercial sources.

Signs and posters

Posters and signs will add momentum to your recycling program. They don’t have to add cost. Several online sources offer free downloadable designs. The best of these clearly communicate the what and why, along with the where of recycling.

Companies like Hewlett Packard, Bank of America, and the U.S. Postal Service have made significant investments in recycling programs. In return, they receive a lot. Each of these companies claims more than a million dollars of recycling program benefit.

You may have seen social good proclaimed on large corporate websites. Recycling programs save enough energy to power 9 million homes per year. Recycling work provides 10 times more jobs than disposal. Recycled product manufacturing employs an additional million people.

At any scale, an organization’s recycling reduces landfill waste and the need and expense of manufacturing new materials. Just getting started? Your recycling activity can begin small and without cost. Then let the program grow as your organization discovers and claims the benefits.

Alexa Stone
LEED AP, Sustainable Facility Professional, Envision Sustainability Professional - - Alexa has more than 25 years of experience in sustainable and Smart Cities development. Her strategic planning work has served local, state, and federal government, higher education, and private industry. Alexa founded ecoPreserve in 2009 as a team of 3 and has grown the company to over a dozen of the brightest sustainability and project management professionals in the industry.
Alexa Stone


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