By PlanetLaundry staff | Jan 20, 2012
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to be an eco-friendlier business is often overlooked – recycling. Chances are your laundry business sends more items to the landfill than it has to.
In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 75 percent of solid waste thrown away is recyclable. However, the good news is that there’s currently a boom in the number of local recyclers and types of waste they’ll accept.
Before you start trying to recycle more (or at all) at your store, give some thought to how you can proceed most efficiently. Here are four tips to getting a successful recycling program underway:
1. Know your trash. Do you know what’s in your trash bins? Sure, it might be dirty work, but it’s worth figuring out what types of things you and your customers toss out – whether it’s plastic detergent bottles, dryer sheets, soda cans and bottles, fast-food and candy wrappers, old newspapers and magazines, burned-out light bulbs, outdated computers, dead batteries, paint cans… whatever. You then can better determine what part of your trash is eligible for recycling. Some items may even be required to be recycled under your state’s laws.
2. Contact your local recycler. Review your curbside recycler’s rules and the items and materials it accepts – assuming you have curbside recycling at your business. Many recyclers now pick up a wider range of plastics, cloth and linens and small appliances. Get a full list of accepted items and keep it handy. (Some city recycling programs are even starting to pick up businesses’ food scraps for composting.) Also keep in mind that some curbside collection programs don’t automatically stop at businesses – so it’s worth contacting them to find out whether they will.
3. Consider alternatives. Even if there’s no curbside collection for, say, old batteries and light bulbs, that doesn’t mean they aren’t recyclable. Visit Earth911.com to locate drop-off recycling centers in your area and get lists of accepted items. (Some charge fees.) Several major retailers – including Whole Foods, Home Depot and Best Buy – will recycle the types of products they sell – everything from plastic food containers to CFL light bulbs to old computers.
4. Make it easy. How easy you make recycling in your store will affect whether or not your attendants and customers pitch in. Perhaps place paper recycling bins and plastic bottle containers where they are visible and convenient to use. Also, clearly mark these bins so employees and customers know exactly what should be put in them. Another possible motivation trick: Put your trash cans farther out of reach.
Do you recycle at your laundromat? How much of an effort do you make to reduce your business’ waste?