Why Mandatory Commercial Recycling Laws Are Good For Business

Stephanie Schwenger

As local governments across the U.S. pursue ambitious waste diversion goals, they are increasingly relying on mandatory recycling laws.

Just last year, the Golden State passed one of the most extensive commercial recycling laws to date,Assembly Bill 341, requiring recycling for California businesses that generate 4 yards or more of garbage per week. The state of Massachusetts plans to require commercial and institutional ventures that dispose at least 1 ton of organic waste per week to donate or divert that waste beginning next year. Similar commercial recycling laws exist or are under consideration in cities and counties across the U.S., from my hometown of Seattle, Washington to Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The patchwork of complex mandatory commercial recycling laws at every jurisdictional level is a headache for anyone managing risk and compliance for a company’s multi-site portfolio. Take the accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, for example, which reported having to contend with 92 different recycling policies at each of their 92 offices. Despite compliance challenges, these laws can be good for business. How so? Because instituting recycling programs can potentially:

Save You Money on Waste Costs

In many areas around the country, recycling is less expensive than waste disposal (or better yet, offered at no cost). Adding lower-cost or no cost recycling service to manage your business’ waste stream creates opportunities to “right-size” or adjust garbage service to appropriate levels to lower a business’ waste expenses. At Ecova, we’ve found that rightsizing waste services can lead to savings of up to 20% on waste disposal costs. Additionally, if your stores generate large quantities of recyclable material, you may be able to sell that material to offset your disposal costs (or even turn a profit).

Reduce Garbage and Conserve Natural Resources

Mandatory recycling laws are designed to increase diversion from growing landfills and incineration, and to conserve natural resources extracted or processed for raw materials. We have discovered significant opportunities for clients to reduce their garbage disposal and dramatically improve their diversion efforts. In a waste composition study we conducted involving three solid waste audits at different restaurants across the Northwest, we found that only about 10% of waste was being properly diverted when 80% had the potential to be recycled or composted.

Enhance Corporate Sustainability Efforts

Recycling is a highly visible method for demonstrating your company’s commitment to meeting employee and customer expectations for waste diversion. For an increasing number of companies, from Safeway grocery stores to Coca-Cola, recycling is a core component of corporate sustainability strategy and reducing the business’s carbon footprint.

So while at first blush mandatory recycling may seem like a nuisance, if properly implemented and managed, it can be a great opportunity to reduce your waste costs and do something good for the environment while engendering goodwill with your customers.

If you’d like additional information on how we can help you better manage your waste, contact your Ecova client manager or visit our waste management page.

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