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Waste Prevention Activities

 
Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling

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See which businesses made the 2012 Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list.

 
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Waste Prevention

Reuse packaging materials (such as polystyrene peanuts) instead of buying new materials.

Why practice waste prevention?

  • Reduce raw material costs
  • Reduce purchasing costs
  • Conserve valuable resources
  • Reduce waste disposal costs
  • Enhance your company's image

Waste prevention is any practice that eliminates or reduces solid waste that would otherwise be thrown out or recycled. The list below identifies every-day activities that can reduce the amount of waste your company generates. Promote these activities throughout your company and then publicize the amount of savings realized. Make waste prevention your first priority!

Office Areas

  • Make double-sided copies.
  • Reuse single-sided pages for drafts and note paper. Place a draft paper tray near printers and copy machines so that single-sided sheets can be reused.
  • Before running a large number of copies, make a single-copy test of copier settings. Remember to clear features when finished.
  • Avoid making extra copies. Make extras later if you need them.
  • Post paper-saving copy ideas at every copier.
  • Use outdated letterhead for in-house memos and drafts.
  • Reuse office supplies such as file folders and envelopes (manila and padded).
  • Set up a "reuse station" for employee use.
  • Circulate a single copy of memos and reports, post them in a central location, or distribute them through e-mail. Make certain documents such as telephone directories and reference materials available online.
  • Share publications rather than ordering several copies of the same publication.
  • Contact companies that send your business unwanted mail and ask to be removed from their lists.
  • Keep mailing lists up to date by requesting corrections and offering recipients the option of being removed.
  • Revise forms to reduce length and eliminate unnecessary duplicates.
  • Avoid cover sheets for faxes. Use a rubber stamp especially made for fax transmittal.

Purchasing and Shipping

  • Purchase products in concentrated form or in bulk.
  • Negotiate with suppliers to provide merchandise in returnable or reusable packaging or in packaging that you can recycle through your in-house recycling program.
  • Use durable containers instead of cardboard boxes for shipping items to branch offices, stores or warehouses.
  • Establish a system for returning cardboard boxes and packaging materials to distributors for reuse.
  • Reuse packaging materials from incoming shipments (such as boxes, newspaper, tissue paper, foam pads and polystyrene peanuts) as alternatives to buying new packing material.
  • Return, reuse and repair wooden pallets and crates.
  • Repair rather than replace equipment. Purchase reused or reconditioned office partitions and remanufactured office equipment.
  • Invest in equipment that prevents waste such as high-quality, durable, repairable equipment; copiers that automatically make double-sided copies; computer printers that do not discharge unused sheets of paper; and dishwashing equipment (along with durable cups, dishware and cutlery).
  • Purchase recharged copier, printer and fax cartridges.

Lunchroom Areas

  • Provide durable cups, dishware and cutlery in the employee kitchen or cafeteria.
  • Provide cloth towels as an alternative to paper towels.

Outdoor Areas

  • Use a mulching mower to eliminate the need to dispose of grass clippings.
  • Compost yard waste into a valuable soil amendment.
  • Set up a worm bin to convert non-fatty food wastes into vermicompost.

Donate Items Instead of Paying for Disposal

  • Donate used equipment, furniture and supplies to charitable organizations or schools.
  • Start a "waste exchange" in your building or office park.
  • Advertise surplus and reusable items through a free listing service, such as the Industrial Materials Exchange (IMEX).
  • Donate edible food products to hunger relief agencies.

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Updated: Sep. 13, 2012


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