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Measuring Waste Reduction: Why Recycling and Organics Recovery Programs Save Money

What does “waste reduction” really mean for a business? In this post, we’ll explain what costs are involved in trash collection, and how a business can determine its cost savings after implementing a recycling and/or organics recovery program.

Understanding trash costs

Typically the expense of hauling trash is determined by the following factors:

  • Number of dumpsters (or large trash containers)
  • Size of dumpsters (by volume)
  • Pick-up frequency

Trash hauling costs also come from two main fees:

  • The County Environmental Charge (CEC)
    • Ramsey county businesses pay 53%
    • Washington county businesses pay 35%
  • The Minnesota Solid Waste Management Tax (SWM) [17%]

Both fees are based on the amount of trash hauled, calculated as a percentage of the cost paid.

How to reduce costs

The first step in reducing costs on a predictable, ongoing basis is to determine which of these factors you can downsize. For example, is your dumpster full every time it is emptied? If not, consider a smaller container size, fewer dumpsters, or reducing the pick-up frequency so that when dumpsters are picked up, you’re emptying a full load.

The second step to cost savings is to take a good look at what is going into your trash containers. Any materials that can be recycled, such as paper, cardboard, plastic, metal and glass, should be separated out from trash. Compostable organics should also be separated. By diverting these two kinds of “waste” from the trash, you will reduce the amount of trash you pay to have hauled away, as well as the CEC and SWM fees that are calculated using the amount hauled. In other words, less trash = lower fees. The good news is that many waste haulers will also pick up recycling, meaning you many not incur any additional hauler fees.

It can be overwhelming to think about starting a recycling program to save money, but once they start, most businesses can’t believe they didn’t start sooner. The calculated cost savings also underscore the importance of clear signage and easy-to-use containers at your business. The more accurate your customers and employees are when using recycling bins, the more noticeable your cost savings will be.

If you’d like more information and resources about recycling, cost savings, waste reduction and more, visit the links below:
How to Start
What Cost Savings
Why Care

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