Four Less-common Ideas to Help You Find Waste Options for Your Plant

Discussion in 'Best Practices for Starting a Waste Min Program' started by Andy, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. Andy

    Andy Administrator Waste Min Publisher 2013 Industrial Waste Survey Participant

    Four Less-common Ideas to Help You Find Waste Options for Your Plant

    Sometimes, the hardest part of starting a waste reduction program is knowing what can be recycled and where that nearest scrapyard or recycler is located. What can make it especially frustrating is that there are no "rules of thumb" as to what programs are available in your area. Not many scrap yards deal heavily in titanium, and not many recyclers are able to handle #5 plastics, but you may be one of the lucky plants that has these recycling programs available locally. Even if a local recycler does happen to handle your wastestream, then you still have to get into the logistics: do they pick up from your location, how frequently, do the numbers work, etc.

    The following is a list of tools and techniques plants have said they have had success with in the past, and ways that we use when trying to dig up some less common recycling leads and ideas. If you’ve already talked to your waste management company and you’re coming up dry for information or ideas, this list might provide some ideas you wouldn’t have thought of.

    Idea #1: Make a couple calls to other plants near you.

    If you don’t talk to other facilities near you regularly, this might be a good time to give them a call. They may have already found a recycling services vendor or waste broker, and might have some experience to steer you in the right direction. We have heard quite a few stories of plants finding new recycling options by talking to other plants near them (or bringing it up at the next local Chamber of Commerce meeting).

    If you don’t happen to know anyone at that plant down the road who can get you a contact name, you might want to ask for the EH&S Manager... right now, that position tends to be much more common than a Sustainability Manager in most plants. Even if the EH&S Manager is not directly responsible for the recycling program, they probably know who is.

    Also, even if you're in two completely different businesses, you may share common wastes. So if you manufacture brake linings and the plant down the street makes beer coolers, it's still worth a quick call.

    + Fast, local advice. If a vendor picks up at a plant near you, they probably will at yours, too. The other plant may also have recommendations of vendors to use... or stay away from.

    - You’re limited to the experience of the other plant, and maybe they’re getting started, too. (In that case, even more of a reason to stay in communication)

    Idea #2: Look for Recycling Coordinators in your county or municipality.

    Many municipalities, counties and cities have Recycling Coordinators who do nothing but help businesses recycle more and minimize waste. They can be an excellent resource to save you time because they have great knowledge and access on both sides... they regularly meet with recyclers and waste management companies, as well as facilities and businesses.

    In some cases, the Recycling Coordinators are part of the state DEP/DER, which gives them even greater scope and number of connections to pull from to help you find what you’re looking for. They may know of a commercial composting location or specialty alloy recycler that you won’t find anywhere else, and they may already have lists of resources they can send you.

    For example, here is Pennsylvania’s list of Recycling Coordinators:

    And New Jersey’s list:

    + Subject experts who do nothing but help people and businesses recycle more and reduce waste. They may know programs and options that don’t have a lot of information available publically.

    - Municipalities and governments are not usually known for having up-to-the-minute information on their websites, so you might be better served picking up the phone after you find the department or name you’re looking for.

    Idea #3: Any colleges or universities near you? Hit LinkedIn and do a little googling.

    Even small colleges tend to have fairly advanced recycling and sustainability programs on campus. That alone can be a good source for leads and ideas. But sometimes we in the industrial world tend to forget that outreach is a significant part of what colleges and universities do... and if they’re a state university, that outreach to communities and businesses is many times established by law.

    If you do have a couple colleges or universities nearby, when you search google and LinkedIn, you’re looking for the combination of the college name and terms like “sustainability,” “outreach,” or “recycling.” Google will usually result in at least a couple articles that would supply you with an initial contact name you can look up on LinkedIn (or their contact info may be listed right in the article.) The reason why searching by college name instead of city is that many articles and campus publications don’t list city.

    For example, the composting program at Penn State... a great source of information for a plant looking for help with a composting program, but you wouldn’t have found either article by searching city name.

    That brings up another point: One waste minimization program that colleges tend to be especially strong in is composting food and organic wastes. Because of their combination of large cafeterias and high emphasis on waste minimization and recycling, many have been composting for years now. They may also allow the public or other organizations to participate in their programs.

    + Local experts, and colleges may be full of ideas and options you hadn’t thought of. Many leaders in waste reduction and recycling at colleges and universities. There may be people there whose only job is to help you minimize waste. When you consider colleges are usually just a bunch of large facilities, you may find more in common than you think.

    - They may be more focused on “consumer” type recycling options targeted at students.

    Idea #4: Earth911’s Recycling Guides

    There are quite a few recycler/scrap directories out there, both paid and unpaid, but it seems that when it comes to generating leads, the Earth911 list is the most complete. Even if the lead points to a municipality, that municipal waste is being hauled to a processor somewhere... probably not too far away. The fact that someone is collecting that waste near you is a good place to start.

    The site has a couple options for finding recycling options near you:

    Earth911 Recycling Guides – Find items available for recycling near a zipcode

    iRecycle app for iPhone or Android

    + Fairly complete list of commonly recyclable items, and Earth911 appears to have one of the most complete lists of recyclers and municipal services around, Quick way to get leads and see if anyone is participating near you

    - Tends to be more consumer/home oriented, so leans toward dropoff locations instead of haulers and processors. No list of services is perfect, so there may be recyclers near you that aren’t on the list.

    So, hopefully, in addition to your usual contacts, these less common methods to find leads might come in handy!
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014