Sustainability 101

Recycling in a Recession

Earlier this year, recycling markets took a tumble due to the recession. However, Great Forest has noticed that many business owners and building managers are continuing to recycle. This is the smart thing to do.

Rather than scaling back in this economic downturn, businesses nationwide should expand their recycling programs and make it even more effective.  Here’s why:

1)     Recycling is still the most cost effective way to get rid of trash. While recycling fees have increased from zero up to $40 per ton for paper recycling over the past few months, it is still cheaper than paying for waste hauling, which runs at about $90 per ton. Besides, waste ends up in a landfill.

2)      Having a good recycling program means less money spent on penalties. In this tight market, many recycling companies are becoming increasingly picky about what they take in. They may turn away recycling that has not been properly sorted, or charge a contamination fee. To avoid this, businesses should make sure their recycling program works well, and that everyone is aware of how to recycle.

3)      Rolling back on any recycling program means that businesses would have to  spend time and money re-educating their employees or building tenants about the practice again when the markets pick up. Rolling back would also mean rolling back on all the investment and progress made since many of the nation’s recycling laws were implemented in the 1990s. Today, we recycle 32% of our waste, a rate that has almost doubled during the past 15 years*.  It is estimated that U.S. businesses use about 21 million tons of paper every year and trash enough of it to build a 12-foot wall from Los Angeles to New York City**. We cannot afford to recycle less.

4)      Finally, we don’t want to run afoul of the law. Many cities and counties require that all commercial enterprises recycle. Cutting back may leave a company susceptible to fines.

Bottom line, recycling is the most cost effective way to manage waste, even in these depressed times.  So go ahead and spread the word, recycling is alive and well and here to stay, even in this economy.

[*Source: State of Garbage Report, Bio Cycle Magazine, EPA, Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturers Institute and Resource Recycling Magazine.
** Source: Clean Air Council]

Note: Less recycling means more waste and potentially more pollution. Learn about the effects of toxic pollution at www.blacksmithinstitute.org

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