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WASTE WATCHERS BLOG

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

Ryan Deer

Recent Posts

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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What Does Closed-Loop Recycling Mean?

In a circular economy, preserving natural resources and saving energy can be called closing the loop. We dig into the difference between closed-loop and open-loop recycling.

  Depending on who you ask, the common phrase “close the loop” might refer to anything from achieving daily fitness goals on your smartwatch to finishing a crocheting project. But in sustainability, it’s referencing a gold-standard. An upper echelon. A system designed to repeat itself infinitely. Although, unless the right ingredients and inputs are involved, closing the loop can be very difficult to achieve. By many accounts, "closed-loop recycling" is the key to a truly circular economy. As companies in manufacturing, shipping, and retail prepare their supply chains for the next big challenge, it’s helpful to learn the difference between systems, who’s succeeding with closed-loop, and how your business can bring it full circle.

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Why is Recycling “Styrofoam” an Environmental Problem?

Whether you know it as "Styrofoam" or polystyrene, we know it as an incredibly challenging recycling problem. We explore the what the plastic material is used for, how it affects the environment, and what your business can do to reduce and recycle it.

This post was originally published in April 2020 by Shelby Bell and has been updated. “Styrofoam.” “Polystyrene.” “EPS.” No matter what you call it, it’s likely we’re all talking about the same plastic material. It forms the cups we keep next to the office coffee pot, braces our new printers in the box, and arrives in clamshell form whenever we order takeout or when our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.  Among its virtues, it’s lightweight, durable, and inexpensive. For years, “Styrofoam” has melted into whatever form we desired and has been perpetuated by countless use cases throughout the consumer economy. But its single-use nature presents a dark side: It will crumble and scatter in the wind; it will take up an inordinate amount of space in landfill; and it will still be there long after your great-grandchildren have great-great-grandchildren. That’s because there are very few recyclers that can process it, and the majority of haulers will instruct you to trash it. While reduction efforts and state mandates promote changes, if you realize how far polystyrene has expanded into our society, then you’ll understand it’s no easy problem to shrink.

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How to Improve Recycling & Sustainability in Schools

A full-scale return to schools is a unique opportunity to create a "new normal" with sustainability at the forefront. And as educators from pre-K to university return to a world of misprints and chaos in the cafeteria, the ability to recycle more materials and curb waste is a curriculum worth exploring.

  Even with personal laptops, Zoom classrooms, and term papers submitted through the cloud, the world of in-person academia won’t break free from collages on construction paper, extracurricular fliers, and securely stapled course syllabuses anytime soon. After the unprecedented school years of the COVID-19 pandemic, a return to primary, secondary, and higher education will signal the resumption of routine consumption on campuses around the country—a cycle known to yield mountains of food waste, paper, cardboard, and plastic during a typical seven-hour school day. Yet, a full-scale return to schools is a unique opportunity to create a "new normal" with sustainability at the forefront. And as educators from pre-K to university return to a world of misprints, basketball hoop waste bins, and chaos in the cafeteria, the ability to recycle more materials and curb waste is a curriculum worth exploring.

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Why Does Hot Weather Make Waste Management More Difficult?

From pests and smells to fires and service delays, the biggest problems for routine waste and recycling service pop up during periods of hot weather.

  Summer is the time to splurge on vacation days, long lunches, and company picnics for many businesses, but there’s no fun in the sun for commercial waste and recycling services. While the postal service might curse the falling of rain, snow, or sleet, the biggest problems for routine waste collection and disposal pop up during the heat. Now, with the historic heat waves of the US and Canada increasing and intensifying, the table is set for unprecedented challenges in waste management. While foul odors, pests, and overflowing trash plague the business side, hot weather wreaks even more havoc on the industry. Dealing with service delays, mechanical failure, and landfills primed like powder kegs, hot weather can turn the process into a real dumpster fire—for everyone involved. However, a little preparation and precaution can make all the difference during the sweltering season, and these are the things your business should know (and prepare for) to beat the heat.

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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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