Successful Recycling: Achieving Sustainability Goals

  March 27, 2012

I'm Steve Schuster, associate editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is successful recycling.

To ensure a recycling program maximizes its cost-effectiveness, maintenance managers must make certain their staffs perform recycling activities in the safest, most cost-effective manner possible. Achieving those goals means minimizing the work required to meet the organization's recycling target and maximizing the return on investment with the sale of these commodities.

Recycling programs often fail due to poor container design. To ensure the effectiveness of recycling programs, managers need to specify and purchase recycling containers that are properly designed and ergonomically correct.

A recycling container's shape and color can affect the message, as well as the container's effectiveness. The goal is to collect commodities for recycling, so the container needs to communicate this.

One effective strategy is to use green containers for food waste, blue containers for general recycling and black containers for trash. In other words, managers need to think of recycling containers as an exercise in product packaging.

Good design generally equals good results. The containers also should use images rather than words. The signage should be visually based.

Ease of use is another critical design element. Failure to consider container design and placement is likely to result in cross-contamination, frustration and increased costs.

Managers also must develop a contract for recycling markets that sets fair pricing and exceptional service parameters. This step really should be one of the first considerations for the program. The first move is to review recycling contracts to determine the materials that have true value, such as paper and scrap metals, keeping in mind that recycling markets are moving targets.


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