Tag Archives: garbage

Businesses Can Save Money And Resources By Taking A Closer Look At Their Trash

Adolph Coors of Coors Brewing Co. famously said, “All waste is lost profit.” I doubt he said that solely because he cared for the environment, but it’s the truth: Waste is a waste. You pay for it on both ends — to get it and to get rid of it.

Not many of us think of our waste this way. We think of it as something of little value that we throw away and forget about. Yet what we are throwing away could be an opportunity to save or even make money.

In the market today, there is a lot of buzz about “zero waste.” I have been involved in a number of these programs and the definition itself has many believing that “zero waste” means you can never get rid of anything. Not so, zero waste is about utilization of 100 percent of what you don’t want by recycling, reusing or diverting it from landfill (which can both make and save you money).

My grandmother stood by the philosophy that “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Zero waste epitomizes that. Find out what excess materials you have and get someone to take it off your hands. This isn’t selling ice to Eskimos; there are many businesses across the U.S. scrambling to get access to the kind of resources you are getting rid of — be it cardboard, paper, pallets, plastic, electronics, chemicals, metal, wood, textiles, stone or just about any other byproduct. It is likely that someone out there somewhere wants what you have.

So the questions are: What do you have? How do you find someone that wants it? And what’s it worth to you to divert it instead of trashing it?

First, one of the best ways to learn what it is you’re wasting is to get up close and personal with your waste: Climb into your dumpster and see what you have. But don’t go it alone — take your staff along with you. Companies are using dumpster dives as an annual exercise in which staff sift through the company garbage to understand what and how much they are wasting. It is a great way to access risk, understand your impact, educate about lost profit and find financial opportunities.

In an office setting, you will likely find that most of your waste is paper. Actually, about 72 percent of it is, according to the New York State Department of Labor. The average office prints 31 pages per employee per day, a 2010 study by Ipsos and Lexmark found in the U.K.

In your dumpster dive, you might be stunned by the amount of paper and realize that much of it was printed frivolously. In that case, recycling what you produce might be a good way to reduce your impact on the environment. Though, in some cases, a recycling company might actually charge you to recycle it. There is a silver lining to this problem: Show your employees — now huddled around your dumpster —how much waste is created and empower your people to use less. Printing less paper and consuming less ink means more money in your company coffer and a smaller dumpster out back.

A great example of this is from a company here in Phoenix. Park Howell from Park&Co. has recently created an initiative in which each employee receives a ream of paper to use for printing purposes for the year. When the paper is gone, the employee must campaign and make a case to the office as to why they should receive another package of paper. In your office, one ream per year might not be possible so figure out an appropriate ration. I can guarantee over at Park&Co. this disruptive change is making employees more aware of their impact and waste and the company is going to save some money.

If you are not in a conventional office setting (maybe you are a manufacturer, warehouse or a restaurant), you might find a diverse blend of waste that you produce when performing a dumpster dive. Categorize the resources and call local recycling, asset recovery companies or use an online resource like RecycleMatch, which is an online marketplace that connects companies to purchase/swap resources that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. In these instances, not only do you have the opportunity to recover money from a waste stream, you will likely reduce your waste hauling costs as well by downsizing your dumpsters or pickup frequency.

Take it from my grandmother: Get out your pirate eye patch and hat, grab your staff and head out to your dumpster for a treasure hunt.

Studies used:

Battling Urban Sprawl by Creating Parks

Green News Roundup – Recycling, Oil Spill, Climate Change & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about stylish ways to recycle your paper, climate change regulation, urban sprawl and more.

Please feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

Two-in-One Design
The talented folks over at Pigeontail Design have come up with a way to recycle all that junk mail and decorate your living room at the same time. How you may ask? Answer: The Papervore. This versatile piece of furniture doubles as a coffee table AND a paper shredder. Just crank it and be rid of all those pesky flyers. On that note, here are some quick links about recycling paper here in the Valley: phoenix.gov and www.recyclearizona.net.

Gulf oil spill figures may be double earlier estimates
Unfortunately the oil spill disaster isn’t getting better any time soon. According to government scientists, as many as 40,000 barrels of oil per day have been gushing into the gulf. And even more bad news, BP has said that the blown-out well won’t be plugged before August.

Preventing Urban Sprawl with Parks
Phoenix has mastered urban sprawl, however, what if we could conserve land by creating more parks? This blog suggests that urban sprawl could be reduced if cities simply provided citizens with more park space. Parks provide citizens with the same open, natural space that yards do, but parks do it in a more space-conscious way.

Senate Rejects Republican Effort to Thwart Carbon Limits
This article from The New York Times details how a Senate vote could effect potential climate change legislation in the future. On Thursday, June 10, the Senate rejected an attempted block on new EPA carbon emissions limits. The EPA released findings in 2009 that showed that carbon emissions were a threat to human health and the environment. Limiting carbon emissions is a contentious debate on both sides of the aisle.

Developing an organics-to-energy biogas facility.

Don’t Let It Go To Waste, A Biogas Future

Ever wonder if you can actually do something useful with all the garbage we produce? Well it turns out we can! The city council in San Jose, Calif., recently announced that the city was in talks to develop an organics-to-energy biogas facility.

The facility would be the first of its kind in the United States, and could take in up to 150,000 tons of food and yard waste per year to process and produce energy— all this from waste that would otherwise be condemned to a landfill.

San Jose has made a huge step toward a goal of 100 percent energy independence and can act as an example for the rest of the country.The technology used to create the energy is a process known as dry anaerobic fermentation, which generates renewable bio-gas and high-quality compost, and has already been made popular in Europe. A company called BEKON Energy Technologies has successfully used this process and currently operates facilities in Germany and Italy.

We all know that San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area have long been on the environmental bandwagon, but we should certainly be quick to follow suit. According to San Jose’s Office of Economic Development its proposed biogas facility would employ 30 to 40 people during construction and development. Once fully operational the facility could create 50 to 60 jobs. News flash — it’s not only good for the environment but the economy as well :)

It’s exciting to hear about all this great new technology being developed and, hopefully, one day it will be the norm. Alas, one can at least dream that this kind of future awaits us.