The Pitfalls of Self-Administered Corporate Waste and Recycling Programs


Garden organics are collected in your lime green-lidded bin every second Wednesday by waste disposal Sydney. Instead of going to landfill your garden organics are recycled into mulch, soil conditioners and composts. The most revealing question to start with is… “where do Waste & Recycling services rank on your Company’s list of priorities?” The follow-up clarifying question is… “how much of your Company’s budget is allocated to Waste & Recycling services?” The answer for well over 90% of Companies is that Waste & Recycling services are one of the lowest ranked priorities, with a minimal spend compared to other budget categories. This is one of those categories that typically keeps getting pushed out, ignored, or swept under the rug due to higher priority items.

So why are we spending time talking about such a low priority category? Simple… in the 21st Century, Waste & Recycling has become much more than a line item on a Company’s budget. We are now in the age of Waste & Recycling statistics effecting the actual viability of your Company. Today, due to the pressures of the Recycling “boom”, Companies are now feeling the pressure of 3 simple words… “Corporate Social Responsibility”. These 3 simple words refer to “operating a business in a manner that accounts for the social and environmental impact created by the business.” What is tied into Corporate Social Responsibility?

You guessed it, Recycling! Today, Investors, Shareholders, Stakeholders, Customers and even Employees are looking at the impact your Company is having on the environment. If you are not showing consistent improvement in this area, your Company could be bypassed for funding, or lose Share/Stakeholders, Customers, etc. Really, it has become that much of a focus. And the focus in this area is only going to intensify. There are already organizations out there ranking Companies by their CSR scores.

Limited Time & Resources

The next pitfall is Limited Time & Resources. Every Company has a limit to the number of projects they can complete in a given time, and how many resources they have to allocate to those projects. Since Waste & Recycling falls at the bottom of Company’s priority scale, the result is very little if any time and resources being allocated to it. This means that “if” it gets addressed, it is assigned the least amount time to work on, and the least amount of resources to help with the project.

This scenario leads to poor processes, and poor management of Recycling and in effect “Corporate Social Responsibility”. It also opens Companies up for fines for not adhering to Environmental Regulation, as well as the aforementioned public scrutiny of Investors, Share/Stakeholders, Customers, etc. It can eventually ignite a public firestorm of bad publicity.

Limited Staff Expertise

Another pitfall of a self-administered Waste & Recycling Program is that the Company’s staff has very limited, to no expertise with this category. As previously discussed, developing and implementing an effective program requires industry expertise. This is an up-to-date working knowledge of the marketplace in all areas where the Company has locations. This includes which haulers have different types of facilities, which haulers provide the best service and price in each market, what favorable contract negotiations are available, what are the latest recycling technologies available, etc., etc.

The vast majority of Companies sadly have many types of non-expert personnel running their Waste & Recycling RFP’s and in many cases their entire programs. These personnel include Corporate Procurement, Operations, Facility Maintenance, Environmental Health & Safety, General Admins, and even Interns. The people in these positions have so many other priorities that rank higher than Waste & Recycling, that they have little to no understanding of the industry itself, much less the inner workings, hauler insights, new recycling technologies, etc. Again, this band-aid only covers the problem until some action or inaction related to Recycling or Corporate Social Responsibility, brings the eye of public scrutiny and a potential of multiplying Company problems.

Ever Changing Environmental Regulations

Ever since the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which later was largely superseded by the Clean Water Act, Environmental Regulation in the US has continued to grow in size and scope. The biggest push began in the 1960’s with the passing of such legislation as the Clean Air Act of 1963, the Solid Waste Disposal Act and the Water Quality Act in 1965, and the Air Quality Act of 1967. The environmental movement gained such momentum during that time that 1970-1980 is referred to as the Environmental Decade. This decade produced the creation of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

Change has been the key word in recent decades. Many key Acts have been amended, some more than once. The key changes for Companies is understanding what classification their Waste falls under and how the laws require it to be handled. It also should be noted that this can vary by state. Are the facilities where your waste is disposed of legally certified to manage your type of waste? This is important because the Company producing the waste is considered the owner of the waste even after it is removed from their location and taken to a disposal site. This can leave a lot of liability on the table if the Company is not managing their waste appropriately. Fines and penalties can be quite hefty, not to mention the potential of law suits. It is no longer as simple as just disposing of waste. Today, waste needs to be managed.

Steven L. Davis resides in Charlotte, NC and is Vice President of Client Development at New Market Waste Solutions, which manages Waste & Recycling for Global 500, Fortune 500, and other large to mid-size Companies throughout the US & Canada. Steven is considered an Industry “thought leader” and “management practice leader”, helping Companies develop and implement complete 360 degree approaches to managing their Waste and Recycling effectively.

Steven is available to consult with your Company regarding how to develop the most effective Waste & Recycling Management program! For more information about Steven, additional publications, consulting, as well as media interviews, or Steven speaking at your next event, please contact:

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