Recycling Guide for Businesses
This page is designed to assist businesses in making decisions about how they manage their wastes and how to improve their recycling program.
the Big Deal?
- Recycling will save you money.
pay fees for your garbage removal based on how much garbage you create. Many
haulers don’t even charge a fee for recycling. The more you recycle, donate,
reuse, and compost, the more your business will save.
- Recycling is good for the environment.
reduces the demand on the natural environment for the raw materials needed to
make new products (water, lumber, oil, electricity, metal ores). The more we
conserve these natural resources, the longer we can sustain modern life on
earth. Recycling also reduces the air, water, and land pollution that threatens
plant, animal, and human life on earth.
- Recycling is good for your business.
are becoming more environmentally conscious. They want to buy products and
support businesses that foster sustainable practices. By promoting your efforts
to reduce waste, you are increasing your customer perception of value in your
Benefits of Waste Reduction
-reduce expenses on raw materials,
office supplies, equipment
-increase efficiency in operations
-demonstrate concern for the
environment which increases customer perception of value
-save money on reduced costs for
-help slow the depletion of natural
-help reduce environmental
pollution and hazards
-conserve landfill space for future
Use these resources to improve your recycling program and start enjoying the benefits of waste reduction!
Take the Recycling Pledge
Take the Cornell Cooperative Extension Recycling Pledge to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible. Contact the Recycling Educator to be added to the list of participating businesses and to receive your official certificate.
Waste Prevention Concepts
- Remove the
need for disposable packing by choosing to use more durable supplies. This
is the quickest way to start saving money and adopt a zero-waste workplace or
business. Let’s look at coffee as an example. If employees brought in their own
mug, that would reduce the cost of purchasing disposable coffee cups. If sugar
was available in bulk, served with a spoon, it would eliminate wasteful sugar
packets and disposable stirrers and save overhead expenses. And if the coffee
grounds and coffee filter were to be composted, it would virtually eliminate
waste all together!
unnecessary overstock. Looking at your process for managing inventory and
ordering supplies is a great place to look for waste reduction strategies. Avoid
ordering supplies that may never get used. If you can order supplies in bulk or
economy size packaging, it may also cut costs.
- Use double-sided
printing and copying as a default printer setting. This literally cuts your
paper use in half!
memos and documents instead of printing multiple copies. Include a
checklist for employees who have seen it, or even better yet, use email rather
than traditional mail.
electronic data storage instead of paper files.
the use of hazardous materials. Most cleaning supplies are considered
hazardous waste and require special disposal that can be very costly. Evaluate
what types of cleaning supplies are being used and if there are better options
within your budget. Learn about all natural cleaning supplies that can be made
from biodegradable materials. Purchase liquids in concentrated or bulk form and
use refillable dispensers.
employees to bring lunches in reusable containers.
- Set up a
food waste composting program. Composting is one of the most effective ways to reduce the volume of trash you create and enjoy the cost savings of waste reduction. Especially if your business is related to the food industry, most of your wastes can be composted.
- Share supplies.
Let your employees set up an area to exchange unwanted items for free.
and circulate old magazines, journals, office furniture, etc. You may also be
eligible for tax credits for making donations to charitable organizations. View a list of local Material Exchange Organizations here.
scratch pads from used paper.
- Invest in
re-usable supplies instead of disposable ones.
- Make sure recycling bins are always directly
next to trash bins.
- Recycling bins should be clearly labeled as
such, with signs describing what materials should be recycled.
- If possible, color-code your bins to make trash
bins black and recycling bins blue or green.
- Keep a separate bin for your deposit containers
(water bottles, soda cans, etc) where employees have lunch or snacks. This is
an under-utilized source of revenue. Once per month, treat your staff to pizza
with the funds from returning the cans, or donate the funds to a local
- If everyone in your office receives mail in a
central location, hang a sign to inform them that all junk mail, envelopes, and
magazines are recyclable. Place a small recycling bin near that location.
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation // Recycling for Businesses
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation // Buy Recycled Products
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation // Reducing Office Paper Handbook
Environmental Protection Agency // Resources for Businesses
U.S. Composting Council // A Guide to Workplace Composting
Last updated September 8, 2017