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WASTE WATCHERS BLOG

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

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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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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Why U.S. Cities Are Ending Single-Stream Recycling

For nearly 30 years, Americans have been honeymooning with a recycling system that seems too good to be true. Now, cities are waking up the realities of single-stream and taking action to change how they recycle.

  For nearly 30 years, Americans have been honeymooning with a recycling system that seems too good to be true.  Devised and widely adopted in the 1990s, “single-stream recycling” overhauled the underperforming process, taking our national recycling rate from 10.1% in 1985 to 25.7% in 1995 to nearly 32% in 2005. The convenience and simplicity of single-stream recycling was an easy sell for consumers and commercial businesses alike—whereas all recycling materials could be collected in the same receptacle (we’ve referred to it as “the magic bin”). However, it was the lucrative commodities market (the buyers of post-consumer material) that made single-stream irresistible for cities, municipalities, and the haulers that serve them. So, in 2021, why would any city, municipality, or business elect to do anything differently? Because if you can see past single-stream’s golden façade, you’ll discover that the system stopped working years ago. Now, as U.S. cities grapple with overstuffed warehouses, landfills at capacity, and a mountain of bills where there was once revenue, places like San Francisco, Seattle, and more have added back material streams—and accompanying them, recycling rates that outshine anything achieved by single-stream. As a growing contingent explores a different future, we delve into how single-stream made its mark, why it failed, and the cities finding success in dual-stream, multi-stream, and clean-stream systems.

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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.

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5 Tips to Create an Evergreen Recycling Program

For some companies, it’s easy to create a recycling program with a laissez-faire approach and hope for the best while calling it a success. However, to truly have an effective waste and recycling program that makes an impact, companies must be dynamic . Check out a few tips in this post that your business can implement to ensure a successful recycling program, increase recycling rates, and improve cost savings--No matter what curveballs are thrown your way!

  For some companies, it’s easy to create a recycling program with a laissez-faire approach and hope for the best while calling it a success. However, to truly have an effective waste and recycling program that makes an impact, companies must be more dynamic—adjusting recycling programs to meet new needs as they arise, such as business expansion, unexpected materials being introduced into the waste stream, and new employees joining the team.

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6 Tips to Improve Your Business' Recycling Program in 2020

2020 is finally here - marking a new year, a new decade, and a clean slate for business owners and managers to focus on improving their business' recycling efforts. We want to help take your recycling program to the next level. Recycling more efficiently doesn't just increase your business' recycling rates; it also helps reduce waste costs. In this post, we put together six ideas to get you started!

  2020 is finally here - marking a new year, a new decade, and a clean slate for business owners and managers to focus on improving their business' recycling efforts. We want to help take your recycling program to the next level. In this post, we put together six ideas to get you started!

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Recycling Training Materials For Your Employees (Presentation Included)

As more and more companies opt to recycle, scheduling one or more recycling training sessions with your employees will ensure they have a clear understanding of how the program works and increase overall participation. View our post to learn why recycling training is so important and then take a look at our downloadable training presentation that you can use for your own staff!

  Are you interested in teaching your employees how to recycle at your company? Then you've come to the right place! As more and more companies choose to start recycling, scheduling recycling training sessions with your employees will ensure they have a clear understanding of how it works and increase overall participation in your recycling program. In this blog post, we share everything you need to know about employee recycling training, as well as a downloadable training presentation that you can use with your staff!  

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How To Choose The Right Internal Receptacles For Waste & Recycling

With the wide range of internal waste & recycling receptacles on the market, it can be challenging to figure out which option makes the most sense for your business. In this blog post, we run through the most popular receptacle options on the market, and the factors you should consider, so you can make an informed decision and go with the best option for your organization.

  With the wide range of internal waste & recycling receptacles on the market, it can be challenging to figure out which option makes the most sense for your business. Before you go out and purchase receptacle(s), it's important to consider a number of factors. In this post, we run through the most popular receptacle options on the market, and the factors you should consider, so you can make an informed decision and go with the best option for your organization. Continue reading to learn more. Important Factors To Consider Determining which receptacle option is best for your business can be challenging. Before you get started, consider the following factors: HOW MANY STREAMS WILL YOUR BUSINESS BE COLLECTING? The number of waste streams your business collects will determine the number of containers needed in each receptacle station. For example, if your office collects Paper Products, Commingled Materials, and MSW (landfill waste), then it makes sense to use three receptacles, or containers, to collect each stream separately. If your office collects Paper Products, Commingled Materials, MSW, and Compost, we'd recommend using four containers to collect each stream separately. HOW MANY STATIONS WILL YOU NEED? The appropriate number of receptacle stations will vary based on available space, your budget, and your recycling/diversion goals. Start by identifying the types of waste and associated volumes that your business generates. Determining these factors will help you understand how many stations to purchase and where to locate them throughout your building. If you need some help identifying what types and quantities of waste your business generates, check out our guide to conducting a waste audit.

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Seven Things Your Recycling Program May Be Missing

Do you ever feel like you are out of ideas when it comes to enhancing your recycling program? We often find that many businesses we engage with are making efforts to improve their recycling efforts, but they are missing important elements of a successful program. Read on for seven important elements that any successful recycling program should have.

  Do you ever feel like you are out of ideas when it comes to enhancing your recycling program? We often find that many businesses we engage with are making efforts to improve their recycling efforts, but they are missing important elements of a successful program. If this sounds familiar and you are not receiving the results you would like, read on to learn about seven important elements that any successful recycling program should have.

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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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