RM Techniques Cut Retail Disposal Costs up to 70% and Prevent Potential Litigation
Retail business managers that don’t worry about waste disposal should think again – and it’s not just the government that will jump on you if you get it wrong. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, usually enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, now allows any concerned citizen to bring a civil action against an organization that does not dispose of solid waste correctly.
Injunctive relief plus fines of up to $5,000 per day if you fail to comply with a court order.
Since retail businesses generate substantial amounts of solid waste, around 35 percent of which is old corrugated cardboard, or OCC, they are an obvious target. A report from the Minnesota Office for Environmental Assistance (1) suggests that, by adopting best-practice Resource Management, an average hardware store with around 10,000 square feet of retail space could recycle an additional 74 tons of solid waste annually. The estimated savings in direct costs and avoided waste disposal costs exceed $15,000.
Resource Management (RM) is an innovative waste contracting strategy that moves forward traditional recycling and waste-prevention programs. Instead of rewarding one or more contractors based on the volume or weight of waste that they haul, retailers work with a single RM waste contractor on a capped-cost basis and share the savings that result from more profitable disposal.
RM encourages contractors to explore ways of recycling waste that traditionally ends up in landfill, and to identify methods of preventing waste generation at source. Working directly with the management team at a store, RM waste contractors offer a single point of contact and generally reduce waste disposal costs substantially – case studies show that savings of nearly 70 percent are achievable.
Although America does not have a national recycling law, most states have legislation that requires retail outlets to recycle certain materials, depending on the exact nature of the business. OCC is high on the list for retailers as it is easily segregated from other materials, simple to bale or compact for disposal and highly marketable. After lead-acid batteries, OCC has the highest potential for recycling at around 85 percent recovery across the United States.
A Resource Management waste contractor for a retail outlet will take into account not only the volume of OCC, but also waste paper, expanded polystyrene, food waste, bottles and cans, fluorescent lamps and wood – especially pallets. In some locations, landscaping waste is also collected for sale or free distribution. All these have some money-making potential, or at least the opportunity to eliminate a disposal cost.
Stores that are ready for an RM waste contract need to examine their present arrangements carefully. Traditionally, retailers deal with a number of contractors, often incurring a charge to have waste hauled from site. Talking to an experienced RM contractor allows a store manager to evaluate existing arrangements and to identify ways to increase the percentage of recycled content. Additionally, the benefit of having a single point of contact for all waste disposal activities is considerable.
A top-quality RM waste contractor will work directly with a store’s management team to put in place practical arrangements for consolidating and collecting each type of waste. This includes the provision of suitable containers for accumulating and storing different types of waste, locating them appropriately and communication with all members of staff. For larger stores, specialist equipment, including balers and compacters, may be necessary.
An innovative solid waste management program at a single Stop & Shop store in Dorchester, MA, resulted in annual savings of nearly $70,000 during the first year of operation. A 2001 study, conducted on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (2), showed that the additional cost of devoting full-time staff to the program far outweighed the returns from an increased level of recycling.
The bulk of Stop & Shop’s saving resulted from coordinated action on OCC recycling (45 percent of the total), general trash disposal (28 percent) and food waste recycling (27 percent) – in this case as a source of organic fertilizer. The money saved on landfill costs for OCC alone exceeded $50,000. The RM team at the store believes this saving can be doubled within 12 months by applying the same principles across a wider range of materials.
RM techniques are advancing continuously – today, some contractors are evaluating self-contained facilities for recovering energy by incinerating solid waste. In 2009, incineration plants disposed of 12 percent of all municipal solid waste across the United States, generating 169 trillion BTU of energy (3). On a local scale, the benefits may be small, but the scene is set for the future.
The message to retailers is clear, whether from government or from local initiative – embrace Resource Management waste disposal, and apply your efforts toward simplifying your waste disposal needs, while saving significant amounts of money.
About National Waste Associates
National Waste Associates helps multi location retailers and supermarket chains, whether the scope is regional or national, create a sensible waste management and recycling program, control it, reduce waste management and recycling costs, and expand recycling opportunities to obtain competitive advantage through more effective Resource Management
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