RoadRunner RoadRunner

WASTE WATCHERS BLOG

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

ABC's of Waste Management: Understanding Terminology and Acronyms

Few industries love slang, acronyms, and abbreviations as much as the waste & recycling industry. Unfortunately, waste haulers and service partners don’t always keep you in the know. Fortunately, RoadRunner has a simplified glossary.

  Few industries love slang, acronyms, and abbreviations as much as the waste & recycling industry. Unfortunately, waste haulers and service partners don’t always pass along the Rosetta Stone to decipher the meaning. From MRFs and APIs to “wishcycling” and “single-stream”, the language used in contracts, invoices, and everyday communication can be downright overwhelming (and sometimes lead to mismatched expectations for your business and its hauler). Fortunately, RoadRunner is in the know and has compiled a glossary of the most foreign and unfamiliar terms for those outside of waste management.

read more

Understanding The Food Waste Problem & How Your Business Can Help

It's estimated that 30–40% of our food supply is wasted or lost each year, impacting everything from food security and the environment to businesses and our economy. Luckily, businesses large and small can implement food waste reduction strategies and help make a positive impact!

This post was originally published March 2020 and has been updated.

read more

Why Are Recycled Aluminum Cans So Valuable?

Despite being the most abundant metal on the planet, demand has never ceased. Airplanes, cars, construction materials, or beverage containers—the market for aluminum is strong, especially the recycled variety. And the process is both economically important and relatively easy.

  Though the fine print on the back puts its worth at 5¢ (or 10¢ in Oregon and Michigan), an aluminum can is the most valuable item you throw in your recycling bin. Going back 150 years ago, aluminum was considered more precious than gold—but even today, it hasn’t lost its luster. Despite being the most abundant metal on the planet (aluminum ore makes up 8% of the Earth’s crust), demand has never ceased. Airplanes, cars, construction materials, or beverage containers—the market for aluminum is strong, especially the recycled variety. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic-related shortages hamper the industry, the simple act of recycling our soda, beer, seltzer, and soup cans becomes paramount. The good news is that it’s relatively easy.

read more

7 Ways to Safely Manage and Recycle E-Waste

Less than a fifth of global e-waste is recycled, leading to higher waste bills, increased energy costs, dwindling natural resources, and concerning effects on the environment. We discuss better ways to manage and recycle your business's e-waste.

This post, first published in August 2020 by Shelby Bell, has been updated. In over 50 years, we’ve moved from 1.44-megabyte floppy disks to 532-gigabyte flash drives smaller than your thumb. The computers that took the United States to the surface of the moon in 1969 are now trivialized by the technology we carry in our pockets—a modern iPhone has 100,000 times the processing power as Apollo 11’s onboard system. Yet, printing from the cloud and the capability to make a Zoom call from practically anywhere on the planet didn’t happen overnight. As technological innovation goes, there are countless iterations that allow us to progress from point A to point B. And the modern business takes advantage of just about all of them.  While we heedlessly move on to faster connections, smaller devices, and the electronics of the future, many of the iterations of the past half-century are still around—underground, overseas, and in the atmosphere.  It’s called e-waste, and our appetites for new tech make it the fastest-growing waste stream (even outpacing plastic) in America today.

read more

The Facts: Office Workers & Their Waste Generation

From 10,000 sheets of office paper to 500 disposable coffee cups, the average office worker generates a substantial amount of waste every year. Considering the majority of our days are spent in the office, it’s very important to focus on recycling there! Read on to find out how much waste the average office worker generates.

This article was originally published June 2019 and has been updated. The concept of working a 9-to-5 office job often evokes memories of spending more waking hours at your place of business than in your own home. Inevitably, in being more active at work, the average American office worker generated a substantial amount of waste—from 10,000 sheets of office paper to 500 “disposable” coffee cups. When the COVID-19 pandemic sent many workers home, all of our wasteful behaviors followed us to the kitchen, couch, and bedroom. But now, as the economy reopens and companies like Google and Goldman Sachs act as bellwethers leading the nation back to their second homes, the time has arrived to reset how offices think about waste and recycling. With sustainability, efficiency, and employee well-being top of mind, we discuss five materials responsible for the disproportionate waste generation in the office setting, as well as ongoing considerations for a zero-waste future. Let's dive deeper into just how much waste is created in the office...

read more

These Items Don’t Belong In Your Recycling

While MRFs seem powerful and reliable, in reality, the American recycling system is incredibly fragile. And for a country that collectively throws away 804,090 tons per day without full knowledge of what is and what isn’t recyclable, we constantly break it.

  The standard compactor truck (aka “garbage truck”) will crush anything at approximately 2,750 psi—enough pressure to pulverize a pickup truck—while its mechanical arms can lift up to 1,000 lbs. Those compactor trucks then deliver our waste and recyclables to materials recovery facilities (MRFs), the centerpiece of the American recycling system. The largest MRFs can process up to 700 tons of material per day or more, with recyclables whizzing past at nearly 20 mph. While all of these specs would make you believe in its strength and reliability, in reality, the American recycling system is incredibly fragile. And for a country that collectively throws away 804,090 tons per day without full knowledge of what is and what isn’t recyclable, we constantly break it. While we’ve recently covered the types of valuable recyclables we tend to throw in the trash during spring cleaning, the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond, this is a case of the opposite. Through contamination and the act of “wishcycling”, we’re tossing nonrecyclable items known for their troublemaking into our recycling bins. Plastic bags, leather belts, and more—we’ll cover the often-recycled (yet nonrecyclable) items that break the system, endanger its workers, and spike your business’s waste bill.

read more

What Office Junk is Recyclable?

It’s important that your staff and coworkers are educated and up to date on what materials are accepted for recycling. To help make it easier, we’ve identified which materials your office should recycle, and which ones should be tossed.

  When spring finally arrives, all of the things occupying the back of a warehouse, back of a refrigerator, and back of the mind come back into focus. To the untrained eye, it’s junk—material you’ve put off removing or completely forgotten about. And now that you realize it, you know it belongs anywhere but there. While Americans have shown a strong desire to recycle—over 90% support recycling efforts—it’s not usually the first action that comes to mind when clearing out something unwanted. That’s why, outside of loss caused by contamination and operational inefficiencies, our “throwaway culture” is to blame for poor national recycling rates. But know this: Not all junk is trash. Reflexively, during spring cleaning or not, businesses send valuable, reusable materials like paper, cardboard, plastic, and glass to landfill. But if these companies, and the individuals within them, saw the positive impact on their supply chain, their waste bill, and the environment, they might rethink how they tidy up.

read more

What is Wishcycling?

When you try to recycle a “disposable” coffee cup, greasy pizza box, or the ink cartridge from your office printer, wistfully expecting them to embody the next new product on the shelf—you’re actually an unknowing participant in the act of wishcycling. And the practice is one of the biggest challenges facing the recycling industry today.

This article was originally published March 2020 and has been updated. Americans are united in the urge to recycle. About 90% of U.S citizens support the practice of recycling, and for 28% of the country, their communities consider it an important civic duty. It’s actionable, too. Amid heightened interest in the environment and enlivened participation in the nation’s sustainability efforts, we’ve been given an avenue to curb our wasteful ways. An estimated 94% of the population has access to forms of recycling like curbside bins, commercial dumpsters, or drop-off centers, which mollifies many of our concerns. For the majority of businesses and individuals, the ends justify the means. The thought is if you do your part—putting an item you hope can be reused or recycled in the bin or dumpster instead of the trash—the collectors will somehow find a way to recycle it.  However, expectations and reality are very far apart. When you try to recycle a “disposable” coffee cup, greasy pizza box, or the ink cartridge from your office printer, wistfully expecting them to embody the next new product on the shelf—you’re actually an unknowing participant in the act of wishcycling. And as you’ll see, you’re not the only one who’s crossing their fingers.

read more

APIs: How Your Waste Bill Can Double in 5 Years

Trash and recycling services might be an afterthought—as routine as keeping the lights on and water running. But, unless you understand the traditional waste industry’s concept of APIs (annual price increases), and the forces that drive them exponentially higher, your waste bill could double in just five years’ time.

  No company can make significant progress by accepting the adage “it’s always been this way.” And at face value, the statement “that’s just the way it is” is rarely a justified defense. However, even the most forward-thinking businesses can be lulled into complacency by something as mundane as a waste bill. Trash and recycling services might be an afterthought—as routine as keeping the lights on and water running. But, unless you understand the traditional waste industry’s concept of APIs (annual price increases), and the forces that drive them exponentially higher, your waste bill could double in just five years’ time.

read more

TOOLS & GUIDES - NEW!

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

GET THE SCOOP ON WASTE & RECYCLING

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER TO GET UPDATES SENT STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX.