We hear this question all the time, and the answer is: yes! A well-managed recycling program assesses all cost-factors and cost-saving solutions, which often results in operational efficiencies and cost savings. For instance, a company’s zero waste goals can have a significant impact on cost-saving opportunities.

It’s important to run a total cost analysis of recycling programs, factoring in both site and operational costs; including competitive pricing, service frequency optimization, tonnage optimization, equipment right-sizing, invoice auditing, and consolidated billing.

When opportunities are reviewed and deployed on a continual basis, operational efficiency and cost savings can become a system-wide norm and enable businesses to save money while recycling.  Here are six areas to focus on when looking at saving money and recycling:

Collecting Rebates for Recycling

The majority of commercial recycling is made up of discarded corrugated cardboard, which can be eligible for rebates if baled, stored and shipped for purchase on the commodity market. Depending on volume, such rebates can provide an alternative revenue source rather than a waste cost. Often businesses do not realize the volume of cardboard in their waste stream and wind up paying for this bulk material to fill up their dumpsters and be sent to landfills.

Finding Competitive Pricing for Recycling

Shopping around for competitive pricing is a general practice for procurement professionals, but it can be challenging and time-consuming to find not only the best price but also the highest quality service across multiple locations. Some waste service providers utilize sourcing technology to secure competitive refuse removal pricing from prescreened vendors. This practice drives down costs while leveling the playing field for local haulers, which otherwise may struggle to compete at the national level.

Optimizing Your Service Frequency

By requiring waste providers to deliver timely data and metrics – including actual weights per service occurrence, monthly tonnage trends, volume per location modeling and downstream disposition for different material types – businesses can develop optimal service frequency intervals. Frequency intervals are adjusted based on fluctuations in business and seasonality.

Every month the average tons per service occurrence at each location is measured and locations falling below the established control limits (goal weight) are contacted for corrective action to optimize the average for the new month. This could mean right-sizing equipment or reducing the frequency of pickups in order to achieve higher cost savings and optimize waste services. In sum, you don’t pay for more than you need.

Right-Sizing Your Equipment

Compactors, balers and other specialty refuse processing equipment can be costly and must be assessed and right-sized regularly to ensure continued ROI. Similarly, “bin right-sizing” (the practice of continually auditing whether waste container size at customer locations properly matches waste generation volume at customer locations) can prove to be an important variable that, when managed correctly, can reduce service frequency and overall costs.

Consolidate Billing and Vendor Management

Enterprise-wide billing per site and waste stream creates additional paperwork and bureaucracy that can be avoided with consolidated billing and vendor management services. Billing can be managed at the site or central office level, but one consolidated record of the waste cost is produced, regardless of location or vendor.

This consolidated billing and vendor management source compiles data over time and can flag inconsistencies in rates, services or invoices. It also can help businesses make educated decisions on cost reduction and waste optimization methods to reduce future costs.

Many of the large asset-heavy, landfill-based providers work off incongruent systems that cannot provide this level of consolidation, data reporting or transparency for the benefit of their customers.

Discovering Closed-Loop Solutions

Closed-loop solutions enable businesses to reallocate waste as a resource, designating raw inputs into the remanufacturing process for cost savings on the front and back end of production and reducing waste to landfill. This goes beyond downstream recycling and looks upstream and laterally across the business the find ways to reuse and reduce what was traditionally considered the waste product.

These are six ways that waste reduction and recycling programs can translate into cost savings for your business. By partnering with a waste provider that is incentivized to help you reduce costs and recycle more, you might be surprised by the opportunities that are out there. 

For more details on how to recycle more and spend less, be sure to check out our guide to Increasing Operational Efficiency in Waste Reduction Programs.