Should businesses really practice waste recycling, especially responsible waste disposal? Definitely. And for two very good reasons: it’s good for the environment, and it’s great for business. Responsible waste management, then, is a win-win situation for businesses because it make the world environment-friendly and it generates more money for businesses.
First, though, let’s consider what happens without responsible waste disposal.
Environmental Impact of NOT Recycling Waste
Every year, the average American produces around 1,000 pounds of waste, and on the whole Americans produce about 250 billion tons of waste annually. Besides the decreasing room for all this waste, it also has harmful effects on the environment.
Landfills have numerous detrimental environmental effects, for example:
- They contribute to the climate-change problem because of the greenhouse gases produced and released. The methane from landfills makes up about 12% of methane emissions worldwide.
- Toxic waste from landfills leaches into the soil and ground water, eventually reaching plants, animals, and people.
- When landfill toxins get into the air and earth, there is usually a loss of 30 to 300 species near the landfill site, both flora and fauna.
When it comes to waste produced by businesses, one of the biggest problems is what has been termed “e-waste.” This is, mostly, all the electronic devices that businesses rely on now for efficient operation. It is “the fastest growing waste stream in the country, with more than 2.5 million tons produced each year” (Forbes).
Just consider these facts about improper waste management with respect to computers and other e-waste:
- E-waste can affect almost every system in the human body.
- E-waste contains mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium, lithium, and polyvinyl chloride.
- These substances can cause brain, heart, liver, and kidney damage, as well as birth defects.
- These toxins are persistent and bioaccumulative and “create environmental and health risks when computers are incinerated, put in land fills or melted down” (GreenCitizen).
Sprint, however, has tackled this problem by making a focused effort to recycle as many devices and parts as possible and to find “a useful and profitable ‘second life’ for the phones” (Forbes). Environmentally sound practices like these have given Sprint its good name and earned it a leadership position.
Benefits of Responsible Recycling for Businesses
Responsible waste disposal is the one business initiative that can boost employee morale, enhance the business’s image, and cut costs all in one stroke.
Employee disengagement costs US companies half a trillion dollars every year – and that’s an amount equal to the nationwide public education budget (Waste Wise). This costly employee disengagement is the result of low morale coupled with little belief in the company and its mission. Recycling, however, can do a lot to solve the problem.
Whenever a company engages in positive activities involving service, the employees begin to view the company in a positive light and see it as a caring entity. As a result, they feel better about their jobs and become more engaged. Recycling helps employees see the company as more then just a “money-making machine.”
Image is (almost) everything these days. And recycling and waste management can do a lot to enhance a company’s image and bolster PR. The simple fact is people like to do business with companies they believe in. It does, however, require that a company fully commit to responsible waste disposal so that it’s not just an add-on, but an integral part of the core mission. That way, “the public will believe your environmental initiative is a genuine symbol of your company’s mission rather then just a publicity stunt” (Waste Wise).
In addition to boosting morale and enhancing image, waste management can also cut costs – the easiest way to make money. Decreasing expenses/costs means greater profits, and recycling is an effective way to do that. “In most areas recycling haulers will charge less than trash haulers because the recyclables are a commodity that can be processed and sold, whereas trash is just, well, trash” (Waste Wise).
Another major component of cost-cutting waste management for businesses is repurposing products and supplies. You could, for example, use both sides of printer paper or even try to go as paper-less as possible with more emails. Creatively re-using items can be an effective cost-cutting strategy.
Back to our original question then: Should businesses recycle waste responsibly? You bet they should. For responsible waste disposal and recycling can boost employee engagement, enhance that all-important public image, and effectively cut costs for greater profit. And, besides, it’s the right thing to do.
Salman is a prolific environmental writer, and has authored more than 500 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management, sustainability and conservation all over the world.
Salman can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org