Green $en$e Guide

An in-depth look at how local businesses can get on the right Green $en$e track.

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The Benefits of Recycling and Waste Reduction Efforts

Waste can be a Valuable Resource

Steps for Waste Reduction / Recycling Program Planning & Implementation

Waste Saving Tips for Specific Types of Businesses

Waste Reduction Checklist

Commercial, municipal and institutional establishments usually have more to gain by implementing or expanding waste reduction and recycling programs than individual residences because of their typically high waste generation rates. The following helps to explain why this is so.

Avoided Cost
Many businesses could reduce the amount of material that must be disposed as waste by implementing aggressive recycling and waste reduction programs. For example, more than 90% of the waste generated by an office may be paper. If much of this material could be diverted from the waste stream by recycling or reuse, disposal costs could be reduced as well. Avoided cost savings are more dramatic for larger businesses, but can benefit any business. In fact, cost avoidance is often the biggest benefit of a waste reduction and recycling program.

Energy Savings and Conservation of Natural Resources
The aluminum industry estimates that 95% less energy is used to produce new cans from old cans. Why is this? Making aluminum cans from virgin materials requires that bauxite ore be extracted from the earth and processed. This is much more energy intensive process than collecting used beverage cans UBCs) and reprocessing them to make new cans. Using UBCs also conserves bauxite, a non-renewable natural resource, thus preserving the mineral for future uses and future uses and future generations. Finally, using UBCs reduces waste, by reducing the waste byproducts generated during the extracting and processing of bauxite to manufacture aluminum.
Recycling has similar effects within other industries as well. It has been estimated that recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees. Although trees are a renewable resource, much energy is expended to convert them into paper. Reducing energy alone is important, because it reduces the demand for limited fossil fuels, thus reducing demand for foreign energy sources. In every case, reusing materials will help to preserve often dwindling supplies of important natural resources and/or make these resources available for other purposes.

Pollution Reduction
Environmental degradation caused by logging, mineral extraction and extra emissions into the air, land and water usually accompanies the transformation of the raw materials into useful products. The additional energy, pollution control, and waste handling costs must be covered in some way. These costs must be covered in some way. These costs are typically incorporated into the cost of a product, but society as a whole pays for the costs of damage to the environment from pollution and mismanagement of resources through increased taxes, increased health problems, and reduced quality of life. Recycling reduces some pollution simply because the recyclable material has already done through a manufacturing process.

For more details on commercial recycling and waste prevention, please visit these sites:

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Reducing waste and recycling are sound business practices that can make economic sense. Waste is not always garbage--in many cases it can and should be considered a valuable resource.

Here are some things to consider:


  • Every ton of class recycled saves the equivalent of nine gallons of fuel oil needed to make glass from virgin materials.
  • At least 30% of glass containers on grocery store shelves have been recycled.
  • Container glass can be recycled repeatedly with no loss of quantity of quality.
  • Every three months, the U.S. throws away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.
  • Recycling aluminum uses 95% less energy than making new aluminum from bauxite ore.
  • We throw away enough iron and steel to continuously supply all of America's auto makers.
  • Metal is melted down and reformed into new products such as cans, automobile parts, siding, appliances and building materials.


  • Making new paper from old paper uses 30% to 55% less energy than making paper from trees, and reduces related air pollution by 95%.
  • Each day American businesses generate enough paper to circle the globe at least 40 times!
  • Newspaper is recycled into newspaper, game boards, egg cartons, gift boxes, animal bedding, insulation and packaging material.
  • Office paper is recycled into office paper, tissue paper, paper towels and toilet paper.
  • Corrugated cardboard is recycled into new cardboard and cereal boxes.


  • 35% of the polyester carpet sold in America contains recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles (primarily soft drink bottled). 
  • Recycled plastics are made into fiberfill bottles, shower stalls, recycling bins, scouring pads, paint brushes, industrial strapping, drainpipes, plastic lumber and flowerpots. Markets are expanding and developing daily.

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STEPS FOR WASTE REDUCTION / RECYCLING PROGRAM PLANNING & IMPLEMENTATIONEstablishing a waste reduction / recycling program takes much planning. following the steps outlined in this chart can make the task easier.

Secure upper level management support
Appoint coordinator
Conduct waste audit
Interpret data/make decisions about program

Apply waste minimization techniques
Utilize waste exchanges
Choose materials to recycle
Locate market / hauler
Set up collection system
Secure equipment / supplies
Publicize program
Begin program
Evaluate & report; adjust program as necessary

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