Why (And How) Your Small Business Should Recycle More

Did you know the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 75% of American waste could be recycled? Unfortunately, only 30% is. That’s not just an environmental concern. It’s also an inefficient use of your business’ resources. In celebration of this month’s Earth Day, take a look at these reasons why your small business should increase your recycled percentage (and get some simple ideas to help you do it).

5 Reasons Why You Should

The environmental reasons to recycle are well documented by the EPA. Each provides strong motivation for businesses to fulfill their corporate responsibility to the community. But there are even more compelling reasons—it can help your bottom line. Consider these direct benefits of recycling:

  1. Lower waste costs –  The more you can recycle paper, cans and other materials, the less your waste management company has to haul away. That may give you leverage to negotiate lower trash collection fees. Some waste companies charge less to haul away recyclables, others will even pay you to collect recyclables for them.
  2. Additional revenue – Some states provide incentives or tax credits to businesses who recycle. Use this website to see what might be available in your state. While incremental, this added revenue could help you with cash flow.
  3. Stronger brand – Chances are, your customers are also concerned about the environment. Many recycle in their homes. So it makes sense they would be more likely to shop at businesses who share their concern. That can translate to new and repeat customers.
  4. Motivates staff – Many employees are looking for tangible ways to make a difference in your business. Recycling is one way to do that. By simply putting paper in the recycle bin or choosing not to print in the first place, they feel like they’re doing their part. This is especially motivational for younger workers.
  5. Savings on new purchases – When it comes times to purchase a new piece of equipment, some companies offer a rebate if you recycle the old one. For example, Apple offers this incentive on their products.

5 Ways to Get It Done

Now that you know it makes good business sense to recycle, here are some simple ideas to get started:

  1. Make recycling bins available – A quick way to get started is to make separate bins available for recyclables. You can purchase ones with the recycle logo or just use waste bins of a different color. Put one near your printer. Convenience is a key for recycling and these bins provide a visible and accessible reminder.
  2. Start with recycled materials – One way to cut down on waste is to start by purchasing low-waste products. For example, buy refillable ink cartridges for your printer. Rather than throwing away the plastic cartridge, you refill the ink inside and reuse the same container. 
  3. Get customers in the act – Consider providing opportunities for customers to drop off recyclables when they shop with you. They’ll appreciate the convenience and you give them another reason to frequent your business. Efforts like this provide great branding opportunities. Share these efforts on your social media platforms.
  4. Get a professional waste audit – Like financial audits, there are companies who will perform an audit on your waste management practices. With it, you’ll get a comprehensive look at your current practices along with ways you can improve on them (and maybe even save money).
  5. Ask your suppliers for help – Suppliers can be a good source for recycling advice. They can suggest packaging alternatives. Some offer a refilling service for items like soap and cleaners so you won’t have to buy new plastic containers each time. Other suppliers will recycle waste for you.

Recycling serves two purposes—it helps you do your part to create a strong, sustainable community, and it can help your bottom line. Consider these reasons to start a recycling program, then start one with these simple, low-cost ideas.

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