Recycling Is Good. No Waste Is Better

  March 13, 2019

By Greg Zimmerman

Recycling is often the first step in any facility manager’s sustainability plan. Why? It’s low-cost, highly visible, and helps occupants feel as though they have a stake in the organization’s green goals.

But a recent article in The Atlantic presents a scary scenario for recycling: What if recycling isn’t helping sustainability goals as much as everyone thinks? Much of our recycling historically has been shipped to China. But in response to President Trump’s trade war with China, that country has restricted many recycling staples, including mixed paper — magazines, office paper, junk mail — and most plastics.

As a result, waste management companies are telling customers that recycling is more expensive, and, more organizations are choosing not to recycle, creating more landfill waste.

What is the solution? One is to simply reduce the amount of waste. A new certification called TRUE Zero Waste, administered by the Green Business Certification Inc., the same organization that certifies LEED projects, “enables facilities to define, pursue and achieve their zero waste goals, cutting their carbon footprint and supporting public health,” according to the article. Facility managers achieve the certification by meeting seven prerequisites and earning at least 31 points from strategies in the TRUE Zero Waste rating system.

Greg Zimmerman is executive editor of Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.


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