December 5, 2019
Healthcare, Retail, Housing Communities, Education, Sustainability

Ask Professor Sparklestein: How do I set up a more effective recycling program?

Professor Sparklestein is the Maintex "Dean of Clean," here to answer all of your cleaning questions.

Every California-based commercial business that generate 4+ cubic yards of waste per week is legally required to have a recycling program in place. So it's likely that you already have processes in place to manage your company's waste. But did you know, according to a global study by MIT, that incorporating more sustainability into your company's business model often correlates to an increase in profit?

Recycling can generate a substantial ROI through cost avoidance and cost savings. So is your recycling program running effectively? Are you maximizing waste diversion and employee labor in order to reduce your waste management costs? Or is it time to take a closer look at your recycling program for budget trimming opportunities?

In collaboration with our partners at Rubbermaid, here are four key steps to creating a more effective recycling program:

Analyze current processes

First, you need to understand your current system and where there is room to improve. A waste audit will determine how well your current system is functioning. To conduct a waste audit, you should collect, separate, and weigh each waste stream to understand how much is recycled versus how much is sent to the landfill.

Next, you should contact your recycling service company to understand recycling collection rules and fees and estimate potential cost savings. If you use a building service contractor, make sure they have the tools and training to support your new and improved recycling practices.

Create your improved recycling plan

In order to determine the right products for the unique waste and recycling needs of your facility, you may benefit from a specialized site assessment. This can help determine the type and placement of collection containers, as well as strategies for transporting waste to a central processing area, if that's applicable to you.

Your assessment should consider factors like the size of the space, who it is used by, and current collection and diversion rates. It's also important to note which waste streams you are currently collecting - e.g. recycling, organics, compost - and which streams you may want to add to your program.

If your recycling is contaminated with waste items at a high rate, it may be rejected by recycling centers, raising your waste collection costs. Using consistent collection containers with clear labels is one way to manage this issue. Educating staff and patrons is another way to improve waste separation compliance. Another benefit of having well labeled containers in the right locations is that they allow custodians to collect multiple waste streams more efficiently, in one pass.

Deploy the new recycling plan

Once you have identified new tools and systems, it's time to put your plan into action. Remove the old products and place new collection stations in recommended locations. Consider making the switch overnight to minimize disruption to patrons.

Read More: Rubbermaid Configure is a modern customizable commercial recycling system

Educate patrons, tenants, and staff

A new system will work best if you have understanding and compliance from the people using it. First, ensure that your janitorial staff is trained in how to use the key features of any new systems or tools. Next, educate your employees and patrons via flyers or an e-mail announcement. Make sure you collect subjective and objective feedback from custodians and other staff to ensure smooth deployment and to confirm measurable results.

The Clean Up

Improving waste diversion rates and waste collection efficiency will save you money. If you're ready to refresh your recycling program, there are four key steps. First, analyze your current process, then determine your new plan. Once you know what tools and strategies you will use, you can implement them and educate your staff for maximum compliance. Speak with a Maintex representative about your waste management and recycling needs today.


Maintex is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor of high quality janitorial supplies, cleaning chemicals, tools, and equipment in Southern California. We stock thousands of facilities items and offer a full range of cleaning programs, comprehensive training, and customized solutions.

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