The time might be right for your business to embark on a recycling program. Why? The obvious answer is because it’s the right thing to do. The less known reason is that it may actually pay dividends.

The time might be right for your business to embark on a recycling program. Why? The obvious answer is because it’s the right thing to do. The less known reason is that it may actually pay dividends. Before discussing the “payback,” let’s consider the good-steward reasons.

Many of the following facts are valid for us as private citizens, but on a corporate scale these environmental benefits are only compounded. Did you know … ?
  • Each ton of recycled paper (newspaper, office paper, corrugated boxes) saves 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil and 7,000 gallons of water.
  • It takes 95% less energy to make aluminum from recycled material vs. raw materials. Recycling a single aluminum can saves enough energy to power your television for three hours.
  • Glass is 100% recyclable and can go from your recycling bin to store shelf in as little as 30 days. Making a new glass container from a recycled one creates about 20% less air pollution and uses about half the energy as making it from virgin materials. Recycling a single glass bottle can also save enough energy to run your TV for three hours.
  • Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, nickel, lead and cadmium, which can contaminate the environment if improperly disposed of.
  • If completely and uniformly dispersed, the mercury content in a single fluorescent lamp is capable of contaminating nearly 5,300 gallons of water to levels beyond Canadian drinking-water standards.
  • Computers should be safely recycled. Dell has a resource called the Asset Recovery Service, and other manufacturers have similar programs.
In addition to those mentioned above, a few more items to consider in an industrial recycling program are corrugated boxes, wood waste, pallets, used motor oil, scrap tires, steel scrap, construction waste, flyash, slag and spent foundry sand. If you are a company with a fleet of vehicles, you should also consider eliminating the lead wheel weights. The manufacture of wheel weights uses an estimated 70,000 tons of lead a year. Recent studies have shown that as many as 13% of these weights fall off in normal driving. This could deposit as much as 3.3 million pounds of lead on our nation’s roads. One viable option is to use weights made from ZAMA – an alloy of zinc, aluminum and copper.

Because of the economic benefit to remelt ferrous and nonferrous materials, the melting segment of our industry has always been good recyclers. How can you find a cost-effective way to recycle at your business? Companies such as Waste Management have resources to help commercial customers with their recycling efforts. Their wholly owned subsidiary, WM Recycle America, may even help your company earn credits toward your waste-disposal bill based on your recycling commitment.

Another way you will save money is by reducing the size of your dumpster(s) or cutting back on the number of pickups once your recycling is in full swing. Finding a place to donate working used office equipment, such as computers, might also provide you with a business write-off.

At, there are a number of resources to help you get your corporate recycling program off the ground. There is a search vehicle for local recyclers in your area, and they also provide a list of various manufacturers that have recycle programs for their products (such as Dell).

Something not even mentioned as a “recycle” item is water. While not necessarily recycled, it certainly can be conserved as an environment- and cost-saving measure. Many companies can engage in programs or improvements that could dramatically cut their water usage. An example of this is Ford Motor Company. From 2000 to 2006, Ford’s global manufacturing operations reduced water consumption by 25% - 6.8 billion gallons. In 2008, Ford is on pace to achieve another 10% reduction over 2007. Now that’s real cost savings … and it’s good for our world. IH