Written with the support of Recycling Alternative
Co-founder Louise Schwarz, Co-founder Robert Weatherbe
Perhaps you're shopping around to solve an urgent challenge in managing your business’ waste responsibly. Maybe you are a food and beverage provider that is struggling to organize around new regulations for composting or national recycling efforts. It can be tough to navigate the complications of material and local solutions, and everyone can use a little help. This is why we reached out to recycling materials experts for a few tips.
“The world generates 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, with at least 33 percent of that—extremely conservatively—not managed in an environmentally safe manner.”- https://datatopics.worldbank.org/what-a-waste/trends_in_solid_waste_management.html
Waste management challenges can be business successes
- Separate out your waste. Wet materials (organics) and dry materials (paper and containers) each have different needs as they are being diverted out of landfills and repurposed. The ability to separate is made easier when you plan ahead and provide clear directions to support success at the point of disposal. In some regions, like metro Vancouver, organics are separated as a requirement of commercial establishments and this regulation is seeing growth globally. It’s also one of the reasons Recycling Alternative saw value in designing a zero-waste three-compartment truck to support their client's curbside collection needs.
- Invest in local communities. Through Recycling Alternative’s social and local procurement values, we use a number of community partners to provide services to our customers. Our community partnerships include but are not limited to: Shift Cargo for small, low-emissions collections, Mission Possible for site cleaning, including graffiti removal, Binners’ Project for back of house sorting, and Keen on Green for large item removal for reuse or repurposing. Our community network focuses on supporting local and social enterprises trying to do good in the community and for the world.
"Community impact is very important to us," informs Schwarz who asks "How can we create community models that provide employment and deal with waste? We need circular models.”
- You don’t need to know all of the recycling details if you bring in a professional. Let's face the facts: waste materials often come in a variety of end products. If you are not actively trying to keep up with current options, you will likely miss a step. Bringing on consultation is a good first step to ensure that all the materials are processed. The range of options might surprise you. Food waste, wood waste, paper and cardboard to glass, metals, plastics, e-waste, styrofoam, batteries, and lights. Recycling Alternative has consulted with clients in offices and retailers, restaurants and hotels, shopping centers, events and festivals, multi-tenant apartment buildings, high-rises, airports and convention centres.
- Don’t underestimate staff education. Everyone looks to collections when they think about optimizing their waste management plans, but the key is to ensure longevity. "Waste management for businesses is like an engine. You need to maintain it,"- reminds Recycling Alternative co-founder Robert Weatherbe. A bigger challenge in waste management is engaging the staff in a given organization to participate. You’ll need to involve them and support them wherever they are today to bring them to your goals. Again, this is a place where an experienced and dedicated waste management company can use its experience to transition your company to success.
- Reach out for help but keep going. It is admirable to optimize your waste management process and you need to keep at it when it gets hard. The product life cycle of raw materials does not need to stop after they have served their first purpose. Don’t give up, get smarter. There will be times that your staff are not cooperating consistently. It's possible challenges of waste management may become overwhelming. You may find the time it takes to manage waste separation is simply beyond what you can commit at the moment. You can always bring in a team to do the heavy lifting. When you are ready, find a partner that works directly with waste materials. This is where the newest innovations and strategies are born.
Solutions exist for all, and it is important to be honest about your capacity to keep at it, long term. An aim for zero-waste is achievable.
A little about our waste management experts: Recycling Alternative
Recycling Alternative has been an integral part of Vancouver’s recycling landscape since 1989. Before blue boxes appeared at our curbside, we started providing affordable, convenient, community-based recycling and shredding services.
We are a growing Vancouver-based company that operates throughout the Lower Mainland and Calgary providing a variety of services to help your business in all areas of waste management. Our services include comprehensive recycling and waste collection programs, confidential shredding, consulting and engagement, supporting festivals and events in their waste diversion efforts, and composter technology. Our innovative composter technology is an essential aspect of our growth into other areas, most recently Southern Ontario.
In Vancouver, we operate out of our centrally located warehouse close to downtown which is key to our vision of providing local and sustainable waste reduction services. A core part of our business model is to create an inclusive and diverse working environment and to provide green jobs close to the city’s core.