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How to Sustainably Manage Waste Disposal at Your Business

Five easy ways to reduce your environmental impact in your workplace.

ByBretton Keenan| Last Updated:11/11/2022
A man in a yellow hardhat directing a tractor at a recycling plant.

Use Our Simple Sustainable Waste Disposal Methods

Looking to green your business? It’s time to go beyond recycling. Sustainable waste management gives you an opportunity to improve your eco-friendly business practices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and even lower operation costs. Interested? Our guide will help you find the best solutions for green waste disposal.

But First: Conduct a Waste Audit

To create the best solution for your operation, you’ll need to gather some data. A waste audit will show you what types and quantities of trash you produce each week to help you decide which sustainable waste management practices to implement. It will also show you where you may be spending too much on trash disposal or energy use.

Sustainable Waste Disposal FAQs

What are sustainable solutions for waste management?

What are the benefits of sustainable waste management?

5 Sustainable Waste Solutions to Try at Your Business

Once you’ve completed your waste audit, you can set short- and long-term waste reduction goals. Try the following sustainable waste disposal methods to reduce the amount of trash your business produces.

Person feeding paper into a printer.

1. Go Paperless

As you might expect, the biggest waste categories for many businesses are paper and ink. Cutting down on the amount you use is a good place to start your reduction efforts.

  • Go paperless: Eliminate the use of paper wherever you can. Keep policy and procedural documents and anything else that is used company-wide either online or on a shared server.
  • Cut down on printing: Only print what is absolutely necessary. When you need a hard copy, print double-sided and decrease the margins to reduce the number of sheets used over time.
  • Cut down on ink: Print in “draft mode” to cut your ink consumption. Stick to printing in black and white only, because color printing tends to use a greater volume and wider spectrum of ink.
  • Use paper alternatives: In the bathroom, switch to hand dryers to eliminate paper towels.
Woman reading and drinking from a reusable coffee cup.

2. Look For Renewable Options

Is there anything used regularly by your employees that can be replaced with a reusable option? The easiest way to do this is with food- and drink-related items.

Sustainable Solutions for Your Office Kitchen:

  • Replace disposable cups with coffee mugs and reusable water bottles.
  • Encourage employees to bring lunch in Tupperware.
  • Provide compostable utensils to avoid using plasticware.
A cardboard box with the word 'giving' written on top.
Blue recycling bin filled with cans.

4. Recycle

Recycling saves energy, keeps materials out of landfills and incinerators, and provides raw materials for creating new products. This conserves and extends the use of these resources for as long as possible. Use designated bins for recyclables like paper, plastic and glass to give employees an alternative to the trash can.

This is also a good chance to think outside the box. There are ways to recycle many of the products your business makes or uses every day, even if they can’t go in your regular bin.

Green Disposal Options for Business-Specific Waste:
  • Want to recycle hotel key cards or gift cards? Check for local facilities that can repurpose them, like EarthWorks Systems in Northeast Ohio.
  • Restaurants can send their wine corks to ReCORK, an organization that grinds them down and repurposes them for other uses.
  • Makeup studios, salons and other beauty businesses can take empty or used makeup containers to brands like Lush, Garnier and MAC to be recycled.
Compost pile.

5. Compost

Composting is a green waste disposal option for some food waste and paper products. A good place to compost within your business would be the break room or cafeteria. You can buy a tight-sealing compost bin to minimize odor and keep fruit flies away. Use compostable bags so the waste can easily be transferred to your own compost pile outside or to a drop-off site.

Use your compost pile in an office garden or take it to a community garden to nourish the soil. You can also take your scraps to a compost drop-off center or find a curbside composting service that offers pickups.

What Can I Compost?

What Can't I Compost?

Food scraps: Fruits, coffee grounds, tea bags, vegetables, bread and grains, nutshells, pasta and rice, eggshells and coffee filters.

Meat, greasy food scraps, fat or oil, and dairy products.

Food-soiled paper: Paper bags, towels, napkins, uncoated food-soiled paper and greasy pizza boxes.

Banana peels, peach peels and orange rinds may contain pesticide residues and should not be composted.

*Check out our composting guide for a more complete list.

Promote Sustainable Waste Management Solutions to Employees

Once you have a plan in place to help your business go green, you’ll need to get everyone on board.

  • Make it known: Announce your goals so that everyone knows about your initiative and can take part.
  • Make it clear: Add clear signage on recycling, composting and trash bins so everyone knows where certain items should be thrown away. Consider including pictures to show what goes in each bin. Make sure to keep containers throughout the workplace consistent, like blue bins for recycling, green bins for composting and black bins for trash.
  • Make it easy: Put trash and recycling bins next to each other so it’s just as simple to recycle as it is to throw trash away.
  • Make it fun: Encourage healthy competition and split everyone up into teams. Create challenges to see which team can recycle the most or see how close the whole company can get to your waste reduction goals. Provide incentives like gift cards for winners or a company-wide lunch. You can also try hosting a zero-waste meal, encouraging everyone to produce no waste by bringing their food in reusable containers and recycling or composting whatever is left over.

Ready to Go Green at Your Business?

Use this guide to find new ways for your business to reduce its ecological footprint.

You may even discover that you’re saving on supplies or fewer trash pickups as you test options to sustainably manage your waste. Planning on making your business more environmentally friendly? Check out our business sustainability section for more tips.

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