Rising Recycling Costs Are On The Horizon

Throughout the country, recycling programs have become a standard means for corporations to reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices to both employees and customers. Yet the costs associated with processing recycled goods are becoming less sustainable for the material recovery facilities (MRFs) that collect and sort recycled materials. As such, they are likely to pass on the incurred costs to the businesses utilizing their services. So if your recycling contract is expiring, rate increases could become the new normal.

MRF Obstacles Combined with Recycling Mandates Can Create a Catch22 For Companies

A myriad of issues impacts the financial outlook for MRFs including slower production rates as not all facilities are able to efficiently process modern material composites, costly equipment upgrades at older facilities, and lower crude prices—making it more economical to manufacture with virgin materials instead of recycled. Mitigating the costs passed along by MRFs can be a challenge for companies, especially if they are located in states or municipalities that require companies to participate in recycling programs or fine them if recycled items are not properly disposed.

Comparing Services and Creating a Comprehensive Recycling Program Can Hedge Costs

Rising recycling rates may be inevitable, but there are a few ways to lessen the financial impact to your bottom line.

While some jurisdictions mandate which trash hauler companies can utilize, almost all states allow businesses to choose their recycling service. Therefore, a company can reduce collection costs by setting up a bid process to find their most affordable local option once their current contract expires. Companies should insure that all collection services and all branch locations work toward 36-month co-terminus agreements. This greatly increases bargaining clout, competitive bids and facilitates a careful review of the contract language, which is written in favor of the hauler and is always negotiable. 

Another way companies can mitigate recycling costs is to streamline recycling efforts. Companies can reduce landfill fees by up to 50 percent by simply educating employees on the importance of recycling and making the process seamless by providing recycling bins in dining areas and adding attractive signage that explains the importance of recycling and what materials are recyclable. This method also will make waste removal more efficient for the facility’s maintenance team, as they won’t have to separate as much recycled material from trash bins.

When the C-suite leads the recycling effort, a company realizes a bottom line cost reduction. In addition, a company’s recycling passion builds the foundation for sustainability initiatives such as cyclical waste reduction converting garbage to re-use or alternative energy production. Industry leaders such as Wal-Mart, Nestle and Coca-Cola are making green investments and reaping tangible economic rewards. But more than that, environmental efforts build goodwill with employees and customers as we all become more aware of issues like the summer Olympics’ polluted competition or the drinking water of Flint, Michigan. 

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