Managing and Reducing Wastes: A Guide for Commercial Buildings

Benefits of Addressing Waste

Until recently, you would possibly not have paid much attention to the waste your organization produces. Many organizations are content simply to determine a system for removing trash. Increasingly, greater attention is being paid to waste management, and pro-active organizations are seeing the advantages of building a waste reduction program.

Save Money – increasing recycling can cut your disposal costs and improve your bottom line.
Knowledge is power – By understanding the quantity and kinds of wastes your organization produces, you’re better positioned to seek out ways to scale back hauling costs and negotiate for waste and recycling services that really suit your needs.

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Streamline reporting and knowledge sharing – Tracking your waste management activities in one platform and employing a standard set of metrics, makes it easier to share and report information with stakeholders.
Enhance sustainability – Managing waste, water, and energy more efficiently are core components of sustainability. Improving your organization’s sustainability can boost your corporate image, attract quality tenants to your properties, and positively engage employees.

Reduce greenhouse emission emissions – Waste prevention and recycling offer significant potential for reducing greenhouse emission emissions.
Conserve resources – Reuse and recycling conserve natural resources including trees, metals, and water.

Track Waste
Materials and wastes offer an often overlooked opportunity to enhance an organization’s sustainability, prevent greenhouse emission emissions, and reduce costs. the primary step is tracking the quantity of wastes your organization generates because the old adage goes, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Tracking your waste and recycling provides the key foundation for a successful waste reduction program.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager may be a free, easy to use, online tool for tracking waste, energy, and water data over time. Use it to benchmark the performance of 1 building or an entire portfolio of buildings, beat a secure online environment. Portfolio Manager offers a uniform set of metrics for assessing your waste management activities.

Check out the Portfolio Manager quick start guide and therefore the ENERGY STAR training site to find out the way to use Portfolio Manager.

Alternatively, organizations that check-in as a partner in WasteWise, the Food Recovery Challenge, or the Federal Green Challenge can use the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Data Management System hosted in Re-TRAC Connect. Through the SMM Data Management System, partners can track and report back to EPA their annual waste management and green purchasing activities, set annual goals, and apply for recognition.

Using the Waste Assessment Results
Use your waste assessment results to tell your waste reduction activities. for instance, you would possibly find there’s a high percentage of contamination in your recycling stream, indicating the necessity for improved communication and education about what should enter the bin. Or the results could highlight that participants are throwing out an outsized percentage of recyclables within the trash.

After reviewing the results of the waste assessment, consider holding a team brainstorming session to spot potential waste reduction activities. List your most promising options and evaluate them in terms of feasibility and the way they align together with your goals. When analyzing and selecting your activities:

Focus first on waste prevention, which can help eliminate waste at the source, saving natural resources and energy and cutting costs.

Evaluate recycling and composting options to manage waste that can’t be prevented.
Implement waste reduction activities best fitted to your organization. you’ll want to start out off with one or two clear activities to urge others engaged. Then roll out other initiatives as a number of the first waste prevention and recycling behaviors become a habit.

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Improve Your Practices
Waste prevention and recycling programs are often significantly improved by actively engaging and educating employees and identifying markets for your recovered materials.

Waste Prevention
The most effective thanks to reducing your organization’s waste are to get less within the first place. Waste prevention offers the best environmental benefits and price savings.

Reduce: Organizations can modify their current practices to scale back the amounts of waste generated by changing the planning, manufacture, purchase, or use of materials or products. for instance, your organization could encourage employees to only print what they have and make sure that printer settings are defaulted to print double-sided to save lots of paper.

Reuse: Reuse of products and packaging prolongs the useful lifetime of these materials, thus delaying final disposal or recycling. Reuse is that the repair, refurbishing, washing, or simply simple recovery of worn or used products, appliances, furniture, and building materials. for instance, by encouraging occupants to use reusable coffee mugs instead of single-use, disposable cups, you don’t need to manage the disposal of a bunch of coffee cups.
Donate: Organizations can donate products or materials to others who need and may use things. for instance, restaurants, hotels, and cafeterias promptly distribute perishable and ready foods to hungry people in their communities. Many local food banks will devour food donations freed from charge, saving you storage and disposal costs.

Recycling saves energy, helps keep materials out of landfills and incinerators, and provides raw materials for the assembly of the latest products. When waste can’t be prevented, recycling is that the next best choice. Recycling is quite extending the lifetime of landfills. it’s about making the simplest use of the resources we’ve available and conserving those resources for future generations. it’s about conserving water, energy, land, and raw materials.

Composting is recycling for organics. It converts organic materials, like garbage and yard trimmings, into a valuable soil amendment that contributes to soil health and keeps organic wastes out of landfills.

When looking to extend recycling, there are two interrelated components to deal with, availability and engagement.

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