This is the second in a series of blog posts detailing the in’s and out’s of the RUBICONMethod, a set of six practical steps to help your business solve the most common recycling and waste reduction challenges. Follow along each week as we walk you through each of the six steps, or download the full guide in its entirety – utilizing the provided checklists and worksheets.

Last week, we worked through Step 1: Determine, which included an initial examination of your existing waste services, local regulations, and needs and opportunities. This week, we’re diving into Step 2: Initiate.

Are you ready to get your hands dirty with us?

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Step 2: Initiate

After determining your current waste landscape in Step 1, it’s time to initiate a plan forward.

Here’s how to start planning…

New plan for waste and recycling collection

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Start by looking at the data you collected in Step 1. Identify which of your waste materials can be recycled locally going forward. Below are three of the most common and impactful solutions. Consider these as part of your plan, as well as any other relevant services outlined in Step 1.

  • Single Stream Recycling (SSR), or Mixed Recycling —  is a common solution because it enables the collection of multiple types of materials – paper, glass, plastic, metal – all in one bin. If SSR is not available in your location, or if certain materials (like glass or paper) are not accepted, then your plan should account for collecting those materials in separate bins.
  • Cardboard/OCC Recycling —  can be a smart collection plan for businesses producing large volumes of cardboard boxes and packaging waste. Rebates are also available.
  • Food Waste/Organics Recycling —  is a popular plan for restaurants and businesses with large amounts of break room waste. Food waste is heavy and often causes high garbage removal costs when not recycled.

Next, it’s time to plan your hauler services and schedules…

Optimized services and hauler schedule

Refer back to the list of current services and equipment in Step 1. Then, work with your waste partner to answer these three questions:

  1. Which existing services and equipment are still appropriate as-is?
  2. Should any services be revised, optimized or removed entirely?
  3. What new services and equipment are needed?

Quick Tip: Landlord/Leasing agreements can pose challenges when setting up new services and equipment. Ask your waste partner to help you figure out a plan that works.

Often when new recycling plans are implemented, businesses find that they produce significantly less “trash” and more recycling. This could mean that your dumpster is half-full, while your recycling container is overflowing. Talk to your waste partner about right-sizing and optimization to help match the right equipment and services to your needs.

Next, match your pick-up schedules and frequency with your services. If your dumpster is only half-full at the end of every week, perhaps a pick-up every two weeks is more appropriate. On the other hand, if your recycling container is overflowing, perhaps it requires more frequent pick-ups.

Did You Know? — Waste service costs are dependent on location, tonnage, and frequency of pickup. Reducing the weight of your trash and/ or how often your bins get emptied could save you an average of 10-20% on your waste costs.

Identifying the right frequency of pickups not only keeps your back-of-house tidy, but it can also reduce service costs. New services, equipment, and pickups might sound costly, but there are many ways to make your plan fit your budget. Cost savings often offsets the price of additional recycling services, and rebate programs can actually end up turning a profit. Keep this in mind when mapping out your plan and budget.

Plan in Partnership: Choose a waste partner whose goals align with yours. Some waste service providers own landfill real estate and are incentivized to haul more trash than recycling. If your plan is to recycle more, waste less and save money, find a partner that is incentivized to help you do that.

Now, let’s plan for equipment and supplies…

Equipment and sustainable office supply purchases

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Now that you have a plan, figure out what equipment you have and what you may need to purchase, such as new bins and liners. Mapping your sites’ bin stations will help ensure you buy the correct number of bins. More information on bin placement and color-coded liners will be addressed in Step 5 (or download the full guide now).

Quick Tip: New recycling plans don’t always require new bins. Consider repurposing old trash cans to be relabeled as recycling.

This is also a good time to think about more sustainable purchasing choices in general. Can you ditch plastic shopping bags, Styrofoam, and straws? How about buying paper with recycled content? Other good labels to consider include: Fairtrade, FSC Certified and Certified B Corporation.

Finally, start planning at the source…

Sustainable sourcing

Consider having a conversation with your suppliers or vendors about the way they package their shipments. Perhaps they could cut out or cut down on their plastic film wrapping around pallets, or replace packaging peanuts with recyclable paper. Develop a Sustainable Purchasing Protocol as a requirement for doing business. At a minimum, you can use this protocol to assess new suppliers and materials going forward.

Finally, conduct a Cost Analysis of switching to more sustainable suppliers. You might find the decreased cost of waste removal offsets the potential increased cost of more sustainable suppliers.  

By working through the above considerations, you will have initiated a new waste reduction plan and will be prepared to move on to Step 3 of the RUBICONMethod.

For the complete step-by-step guide on implementing a successful waste and recycling program, click here.

Step 3