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Waste Assessments


What is a waste assessment?

Why conduct a waste assessment?

Why recycle?

How do I conduct an assessment?

What materials can be recycled?

Where can I find information on local recyclers?

How do I determine the economic benefits?

How do I determine the environmental benefits?

How do I implement a workable program?

What motivates employees to participate?

How can I sustain the program?

What is a waste assessment?
A waste assessment is an examination of current waste and purchasing practices.

Why conduct a waste assessment?
The findings from a waste assessment create a baseline of data from which to 
select options for reducing waste and improving practices and set practical, measurable goals.

Why recycle?
Recycling is good for business. A well-developed and well-run recycling program can help your company save money, reduce disposal costs, improve efficiency, satisfy customer demand, and enhance its image.  For example, as a direct result of recycling efforts, Butler County industries:

  • Diverted 700,000 tons of material from landfills
  • Offset $23 million in disposal costs

Recycling is good for the environment. Recycling redirects waste from landfills, saves raw materials, reduces the impact from resource extraction, and lowers energy usage and pollution. Butler County industries also:

  • Saved more than 300,00 trees
  • Saved over one billion pounds of iron ore
  • Saved more than 13 million kilowatt hours of electricity
  • Prevented the release of about 20 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2)

How do I conduct an assessment?
By this time, you've likely determined a need for changing current waste practices. Also important is gaining management support and designating a recycling lead/team.

Conducting a waste assessment can involve a records examination (purchasing, hauling records), facility walk-through, and/or waste sort (specific functional area, facility-wide).

As you conduct the assessment, identify opportunities for source reduction or pollution prevention (P2), then reuse and recycling. P2, the preferred approach to managing waste, eliminates/reduces the quantity or hazardous nature of material at the source before the point of generation. P2 examines all media - air, water, waste, and energy.

What materials can be recycled?
Materials commonly collected for recycling include paper, cardboard, scrap metal, plastic, glass and other types such as wood waste, oil and textiles. Generally, these materials have recycling potential because they can be collected in quantity, are free of contamination, and can be economically transported.

Where can I find information on local recyclers?
Identify potential recycling service providers for your targeted waste stream(s). Your waste hauler may offer recycling services, or recyclables can be sold directly to a processor or a broker who markets the materials to the processors. Your company might be able to use a waste exchange program. In other cases, more research might be needed to identify a new market. The District can help with that, too.

How do I determine the economic benefits?
Recycling makes economic sense if costs are reasonable and benefits (e.g. commodity market revenues, reduced disposal costs) exist. Unlike industry, commercial businesses typically do not have steady amounts of recovered materials earning revenue and sustaining recycling.  The benefit of recycling for many is cost avoidance.  Companies save money when recycling reduces the frequency or volume of waste collected.  

Use these steps as a
 guide for determining the savings from recycling in a small office building:

  1. Determine the existing monthly waste service costs:      $250/month
  2. Estimate the projected downsized waste service costs:  $100/month
  3. Add the expected monthly recycling service fee:           $100/month
  4. Compare these costs to determine the overall savings:   $50/month

How do I determine the environmental benefits?
Use the conversion factors below as a guide for estimating environmental benefits.  Recycling one ton of:

  • Paper saves 17 trees, 462 gallons of oil, and 7,000 gallons of water, and more than 3 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Steel saves mining 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,000 pounds of coal and 40 pounds of limestone.
  • Plastic saves the energy equivalent of 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of gasoline.
  • Glass reduces mining waste by 500 pounds.

Recycling one pound of aluminum saves 6.5 kilowatt hours of electricity. Every kilowatt-hour saved keeps 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere.

How do I implement a workable program?
Because participation is critical to the program's success, it's important to establish a simple, reliable and visible collection system. Plan your program carefully and design a system that:

  • Supports clear, measurable goals
  • Is part of your company's standard operating procedure (SOP)
  • Meets the needs of each individual work station to encourage participation
  • Gives all participants clear and regular directions about their part in the program

Goals should be practical, measurable and describe the results your business wants to achieve and where you want to direct your efforts. For example:

Goal:         Decrease the amount of waste that is disposed in landfills by X% each
                year for the next 3 years
Objective:  Implement a paper recycling program to divert X% of paper

Goal:         Increase the amount of material recycled by X% each year
Objective:  Expand current recycling program to include additional recyclables

What motivates employees to participate?
A successful recycling program takes time, patience and persistence. Here are some tips to motivate, educate and recognize employees:

  • Involve employees so they have ownership in the program. Solicit their ideas regularly. Invite them to participate on the recycling team. Ask them to make a recycling pledge.
  • Train employees on recycling specifics and update them on any program changes.
  • Estimate and promote the economic and environmental benefits of your program, Convey program benefits in terms of cost-savings, resources saved, customer satisfaction and corporate responsibility.
  • Set a good example. Distribute information and promotional giveaways or prizes in the least wasteful way (e.g., a reusable coffee mug, electronic messages, centralized recycling posters).

How do I sustain the program?
Keep accurate records on the types and amounts of material collected. Use this information as well as employee feedback to evaluate the program, make changes as needed to sustain long-term recycling.

Questions? Contact Anne Fiehrer Flaig at 887-3963 or send an email to FiehrerFlaigEA@butlercountyohio.org



Butler County Recycling & Solid Waste District 
130 High Street, Hamilton OH 45011
(513) 887-3653

Information on this site is believed to be accurate. The District disclaims any liability for errors or omissions.  External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the District.