Case Study: Great Forest Identifies 75% Cost Savings For Major NYC Development


A building on the campus of one of NYC’s most talked-about new developments with over 750,000 sq. ft of mixed-use commercial/industrial space.


Great Forest’s waste audit and assessment identified key problems that kept the building’s waste and recycling programs from working efficiently. The investigation also uncovered opportunities for reducing the building’s waste removal costs by 75 percent, while increasing the building’s diversion ratio by 30 percent.


The development was interested in pursuing Zero Waste but suspected that its current waste and recycling program was not working as well as it should. The building’s diversion ratio was only 25.7 percent. They wanted to identify the problem, and implement best waste management practices.


Over the course of four days, Great Forest conducted a comprehensive waste audit and operational analysis that included a building walk-through of all areas, including loading docks and corridors.

The waste audit revealed a significant amount of recyclables in the trash streams. 23.3 percent of what was thrown in the trash turned out to be recyclable plastic wrap, followed closely by recyclable cardboard.

We found that one of the reasons for this was a low rate of tenant compliance. We noted loose, recyclable materials piled up in various locations, and spotted e-waste and universal waste left in corridors.

There were also no waste and recycling program signs or instructions, and bins were not labeled. As a result, the building was not in compliances with several state and local laws.

Our recommendations addressed all the problems. They included:

  • Installation of a baling machine to capture the large amounts of plastic wrap and cardboard/paper;
  • Development of a program to effectively collect and store e-waste and universal waste;
  • Distribution of waste management guidelines to all tenants clarifying tenant obligations under the new waste management program;
  • Implementation of a specific daily time frame during which tenants can dispose of certain waste materials in the presence of the dock master.

In addition, we even found a vendor to remove wood pallets for free!


Our recommendations showed the building how to reduce waste removal costs by 75 percent.

Our recommendations also increased the building’s diversion ratio by 30 percent without any reduction in waste generation, but simply by improving recycling awareness and compliance by tenants, in conjunction with the optimization of onsite waste capturing equipment. This brought the building’s overall diversion rate to over 50 percent, making its long-term goal of Zero Waste accreditation significantly more achievable

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