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System Impacts

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Financial Impact

When employing waste reduction strategies, financial benefits can be realized from several sources including recycling due to behavioral change and efficient waste collection equipment and service. Source reduction and reuse, the most environmentally preferable waste management option, is the most cost-effective practice. The most costly waste management practice, landfill disposal, is also the least environmentally preferable.

Negotiated Sales Contracts for Recycling

If large volumes of recyclables are generated at a building, recycling companies may bid on offers to buy recyclable waste and provide pick-up service at no charge. Recyclable commodities are traded on the open market and the prices fluctuate. As an example, old corrugated cardboard prices in New York ranged from $100–$110 per ton in June 2013. Through a negotiated sales contract, the recycling company bids for a percentage of revenue from the sale of paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and/or metal recovered from a building’s waste stream. Under this contract, the building owner, tenant agencies, and recycling company all have a financial incentive to participate in the recycling program.

Waste Collection Equipment & Service

Property Managers are often responsible for ensuring that the type, capacity, and number of waste collection containers are appropriate for the amount of solid waste generated in the building. The “right-size” equipment and service can yield savings if trash removal service costs are priced per weight and per haul. A solid waste audit or a review of waste hauling records can help with the selection of waste collection equipment and service levels.

About half of a waste hauler’s operating costs are for fleet/fuel and labor; therefore, reducing the number of trash shipments is the primary way to reduce trash disposal service costs. Landfill tipping fees vary by state and municipality, and can range from $20 to over $100 per ton of waste. To reduce the frequency of trash shipments and reduce costs:

  • Consider using a trash compactor, instead of an open dumpster.
  • For buildings with trash compactors and per haul pricing, have the waste removal company pick up the trash compactor only when it is full (on call). Trash compactor fullness can be determined through a pressure gauge on the compactor or through an electronic waste monitoring device that automatically notifies the waste hauler to pick up the compactor.
  • Unless there is an ongoing construction project, have debris roll-off containers delivered only as needed. People often dump large items that should be recycled or reused (e.g., pallets, cardboard boxes) in debris roll-off containers, so these should only be kept on-site as needed for a project. If open top containers must be used, secure the container within a fenced area or use a padlock to lock the lid.
  • Assess trash quantities and trash removal service levels. If trash collection containers are picked up when less than full, consider reducing the container size, the number of containers, and/or the trash pick-up frequency.