Is there any value in the waste your business generates? Chances are good the answer is a definite YES. In previous blog posts, we've discussed why diverting as much weight away from your solid waste stream and into your single-stream recycling saves money on trash hauling bills. Simply put, commercial single-stream is cheaper to dispose of than solid waste because there are no tipping fees. For every ton of waste you move from the trash to the recycling stream, you save an average of $45. Take a look at your company's waste bill. How many tons do you pay to have hauled each month? You could be literally throwing money away.
Your waste partner makes money by sorting your recyclable commodities into grades and selling them to manufacturers. But if you generate enough of any recyclable commoditity, it's cost-effective to invest in the equipment to grade and weigh them yourself. The rebate you negotiate from your waste partner is added revenue for your company. You may be surprised what you can recycle: even foam packing and shrink wrap have value in today's market.
The trick is: how do you know what you have? How do you most accurately calculate the weight of recyclable commodities that are currently being diverted to the trash? There's a bit of an art to it; start with figuring out the percentage, by volume, of any given recyclable commodity currently taking up room in your trash stream. It's tempting to eyeball the contents of your dumpster and then estimate the volume of material. For example, for an 8-yard dumpster that appears to be half-full of EPS foam, you'd guess you were throwing out about 4 yards of EPS. There are two problems with this method:
- The bigger the container, the more difficult it is identify all the material
- We have a natural tendency to overestimate. That 4 yards of EPS is more than likely only 2 or 3.
The most accurate method is to take several gaylord boxes and do a timed measurement. First, divert all of one recyclable commodity for a day, a week, a manufacturing cycle, or whatever period of time makes sense to your business.
Second, calculate the weight of the material you collected. Estimate that 1 gaylord box holds 1.5 cubic yards. Here are weights for some common loose, uncompacted recyclables:
|mixed paper grades/junk mail||1300 lbs|
|loose newsprint||900 lbs|
|office paper||600 lbs|
|loose PET soda bottles||45 lbs|
|whole steel cans||225 lbs|
|whole aluminum containers||90 lbs|