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Retail Recycling

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Every business produces some type of recyclable material, no matter the size or type of business.  For retailers, the largest component of recyclable waste comes from packaging materials such as paper, corrugated cardboard, plastic, newspaper, and pallets.  Other recyclable materials found in retail stores include aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles, printer cartridges, office paper, and electronic waste. By implementing sustainable practices, retail businesses can enhance their overall efficiency, productivity, public image, and reduce waste disposal costs.

Waste Reduction Techniques

Waste reduction is the practice of designing, manufacturing, purchasing, transporting, and using materials in ways that eliminate the amount of trash created. Reusing products is a key element of waste reduction, as it helps slow the entry of items into the waste stream. 

By thinking creatively, you can reduce the waste you create and make better use of the waste that can't be avoided.

  • Strategically place and label recycling and waste bins around your premises.  Place the bins in all heavy traffic areas, common work areas, and in locations where recyclables and waste are usually generated.
  • Recycle paper, glass, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, ink cartridges, and electronics.
  • Use packaging that is recyclable and made from recycled material.
  • Keep packaging material and cardboard clean for reuse and recycling.
  • Order in bulk where possible to minimize packaging.
  • Use double-sided printing when possible.
  • Use less office paper by going paperless with technology.
  • Eliminate disposable cups, plates, and utensils in the break rooms.  Replace with permanent dishware.
  • Switch to rechargeable batteries.
  • Use eco-friendly cleaning products that are biodegradable and non-toxic.
  • Use and maintain durable equipment and supplies.
  • Reduce your plastic bag impact; consider changing to bags that are 100% biodegradable or sell store-branded reusable bags.
  • Implement inventory control procedures to avoid over-ordering.  

Reuse Techniques

Reuse is an attempt to extend the life of an item thereby reducing the amount of goods in the waste stream, resulting in energy savings and less waste. 

  • Shred or crumple waste paper for use as packing material.
  • Exchange surplus and reusable material through a commercial materials exchange.
  • Repair broken equipment to extend its useful life.
  • Donate excess building materials.
  • Ask suppliers to take back pallets or switch to more durable reusable ones.
  • Donate surplus items to non-profit or reuse organizations.
  • Donate or recycle old computers and equipment.  

How Retailers Can Close The Recycling Loop

By purchasing and using products made from recycled materials, you are closing the loop.  There are many recycled products available such as, office paper, packaging materials, tissue paper, plastic landscaping timbers and ceiling, wall, and floor tiles. 

Why Go Green

Today green is becoming a necessity in business.  Going green is as simple as using sustainable business practices, or  selling environmentally friendly products.  Customers are increasingly demanding green from the businesses they patronize.  As the demand increases and businesses increase their sustainability, going green will transform from being a choice to a requirement to keep up with the competition. A number of big names in retail have been focusing their efforts on green recently. Many local companies are seeking to reduce, reuse and recycle, and also provide green options for their customers.     

Helpful Information

Recycling for Retailers Brochure

Business Recycling

Mandatory Recycling

EPA's Guide to Waste Reduction at Shopping Centers 

Starting a Recycling Program at Your Business

Training Videos for Businesses

Facts and information found on this web page compiled from various sources including Green Business Bureau, About.com, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, CalRecyle, U.S. Small Business Administration, and WasteCare Corporation.