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WASTE WATCHERS BLOG

Helping businesses improve their waste diversion & recycling efforts, one post at a time!

Ryan Deer

Recent Posts

The Golden Rules of Recycling

Like learning how to do your taxes and understanding the housing market, the golden rules of recycling were conspicuously absent from most Americans’ formal education. However, learning some basics can improve your business's recycling rate exponentially!

  Like doing your taxes and DIY home improvement, there’s a certain amount of guesswork that goes into Americans’ recycling practices. And like the first two, it comes with consequences. The majority of Americans are ill-prepared, ill-informed, and ill-advised when it comes to recycling, lacking the guiding principles and educational building blocks that form an efficient, successful system. The considerable gap in comprehension contributes to a national recycling rate that’s never topped 35% and a quarter of every collection is lost to contamination. Yet, if every U.S. citizen had committed just a few general principles—or even some bare necessities—to memory the same way we all learned classroom respect and the order of operations (PEMDAS, remember?), America’s recycling system would shine brighter. Fresh out of school or 40 years on the job, it’s never too late to learn the golden rules of recycling.

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What Are Eco-Friendly Plastics and How Are They Recycled?

Recognizing the environmental detriment of petroleum-based plastics, companies are switching over to "eco-friendly" plastics. But with new materials come new rules for recycling—and your business will need to learn them fast.

  Our society’s relationship with plastic is complicated. Over 100 years, the man-made, petroleum-based polymer has gone from miracle material to environmental villain. The status quo for decades, a recent shifting in consumer preference, advancement in materials sciences, and legislation protecting the Earth have given rise to a world of “eco-friendly” plastics. From packaging to the products themselves, bio-based, biodegradable, and recycled materials are finding purchase. While considered an exciting and positive development by most, the recycling process for these products isn’t as simple as “green means go.” With new, sustainable materials come new rules for recycling—and you’ll need to learn them fast. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Zero Waste to Landfill

By comprehending the concept of zero waste to landfill (ZWTL) and how to transform your business’s operations to meet the often-targeted sustainability goal, you’ll be able to divert from our nation’s economic and environmental collision course with a mountain of waste.

  Sustainability is the mission. Positive cost-benefit is a requirement. Brand perception is a byproduct. But, at the heart of every “zero waste to landfill” commitment is one fundamental fact: sending waste to the landfill is something to be avoided. As the largest legacy brands in the United States and around the world line up to announce responsible waste diversion and recycling goals, it’s important as a business to understand the undertaking. By comprehending the concept of zero waste to landfill (ZWTL) and how to transform your business’s operations to meet the often-targeted sustainability goal, you’ll be able to divert from our nation’s economic and environmental collision course with a mountain of waste.

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Ask Your Waste Hauler These Questions To Become A Better Recycler

In the waste industry, oftentimes the only time you realize you’re doing something wrong with trash or recycling is when it appears as a line item on your bill a month later. These questions for your hauler will help you set expectations and become a better recycler.

  In the waste industry, oftentimes the only time you realize you’re doing something wrong with trash or recycling is when it appears as a line item on your bill a month later. It’s not just carelessness; it’s ambiguity. The reality is that all the things you learned about recycling growing up in Chicago may have completely different rules of thumb in Atlanta. And no matter how many years you’ve been managing your company’s waste, if your service provider changes, all your “must-dos” turn into maybes. That’s because the waste industry doesn’t operate on the same playbook. Region to region, city to city, and hauler to hauler, policies differ based on market dynamics and infrastructure capabilities. For you, it’s a frustrating game to play when the stakes are high levels of contamination, low national recycling rates, and unchecked operational fees and penalties to your business. That’s why it’s helpful to set expectations from the onset by asking some key questions to your local waste and recycling hauler—the answers to which may never appear in your contract or handbook. To become a better recycler, these are the conversations you’ll need to have to get on the same page.

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20 Surprising Facts About Litter

Littering is long-standing problem along U.S. roadways and waterways. Our facts about litter shed a light on the scope of the problem and can inspire your company to take action against it.

  Behind every roadside potato chip bag, bobbing beer can in the park pond, and bottle caps where there should be seashells, a choice was made: someone left it there. Litter happens in an instant. Something that was once a container, a wrapper, or a can only becomes environmental waste once it leaves a human’s hand. And the truth hurts to know there was a much better decision that could have been made—more often than not, it could have been recycled. As we mark September’s National Cleanup Day and beyond, we’re providing a collection of shocking facts about America’s litter problem that will inspire you to always choose to recycle (as well as some effective ways your business can clean up its community).

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In the Know: Our 5 Most Popular Recycling Guides

Confronted with unique problems and emerging innovation to fix them, the talk of the waste world might seem foreign to the average business owner. From environmentalism to sustainability to the inside track on cutting operational costs, our top posts will catch you up to speed.

  Like the news cycle itself, the waste and recycling management industry never sleeps. Confronted with unique problems and emerging innovation to fix them, the talk of the waste world might seem foreign to the average business owner. Luckily, with a decade in the space, talking trash has become RoadRunner’s forte. We believe waste management should be easy and accessible—so we distill the complex into simple, easy-to-understand articles and guides. From environmentalism to sustainability to the inside track on cutting operational costs, RoadRunner has a broad library of resources for improving your knowledge base, as well as perspective-based thought leadership channeled from our organization’s top minds. These are our top five most-read topics...

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How COVID-19 Has Affected the Waste Industry’s Workforce

Plagued by COVID-related labor shortages and supply chain disruptions that threaten delays and discontinued recycling service, haulers and customers alike are left scrambling. We provide our unique perspective on the current crisis.

  Across the world, the sharpest minds, most experienced think tanks, and smartest algorithms dedicate their existence to accurately predicting supply and demand. But with COVID-19, the economy is anyone’s guess. The global pandemic declared in March 2020 upended business and altered the way society consumed goods and traded services, sending even historically stable industries like waste & recycling management into turmoil—and the crisis is still peaking.  Plagued by unprecedented labor shortages and supply chain disruptions that threaten delays and discontinued recycling service, haulers and customers alike are scrambling for solutions. Meanwhile, an unexpected silver lining has emerged for companies seeking sustainability: the recycling sector hasn’t been this profitable in years. So, the million-dollar question: How does the waste industry respond? 

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5 Steps Businesses Can Take to Fight Climate Change

After a revelatory IPCC report, climate change is once again in the public spotlight. We examine how its potential impacts affect both the planet and business world, providing tips for taking action.

This post was originally published by Shelby Bell in June 2020 and has been updated. With each new sunrise, the prospect of work brings another day, another dollar. And for many, the honest work we do day in and day out may be rooted in tradition—operating with practices as old as the organization itself. But everything that works for us, be it ho-hum or windfall, has come into question now that the Earth has stopped acting like it’s business as usual. Debated for its existence, severity, and real impacts, climate change has been thrust into the spotlight once again with a new message for businesses: innovate... or else. As the thermostat rises, clock ticks, and whatever other metaphors are used in sensational headlines about a societal SOS, many business owners are lining up to ask “what can I do about climate change?”  The answer is not as easy as flicking a switch. In fact, it might be like rewiring the entire breaker box. But, as you’ll see, the decisions we must make are no longer a line in the sand. In today’s heated world, the most sustainable choices will become the most profitable. Note: if you already know about climate change, you can jump right to our 5 sustainable steps to fight it!

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What Mail is Recyclable?

Between junk mail and cardboard packages, the majority of what you receive in the mail is recyclable. We provide an easy guide for recycling more of it.

  Neither snow nor rain nor heat may stop the postal service from delivering your mail. Even in an age dominated by email—and despite a global pandemic—paper envelopes, glossy magazines, and cardstock postcards endure as a priority.  However, the same priority isn’t considered in the recycling of the steady influx that floods mailrooms and doorsteps around the US.  Between unsolicited mail (or “junk mail”), envelopes with plastic address windows, bubble mailers, shipping boxes, packing peanuts, and more, the lower perceived value and confusion over mail’s recyclability leads to millions of tons of sought-after paper and cardboard filling up the nation’s landfills per year. It’s a missed opportunity, as not all mail is junk. In fact, it’s the opposite, and understanding what mail is and isn’t recyclable benefits not only the economy and environment, but also your business's waste bill.

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TOOLS & GUIDES - NEW!

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Learn how our custom recycling system can work for your business
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Find out what items cause recyclable contamination issues
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Learn about common waste invoice charges and how to avoid them
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A step-by-step guide to conducting your own waste audit
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