Hazardous Waste Recycling: The proper disposal of batteries, paint and chemicals, lightbulbs, and electronics

Recycling is one of the top and most cost-effective ways to reduce waste in the workplace. It is also a great step forward in establishing a sustainably driven company. An official company-wide hazardous waste recycling policy that stretches beyond simply paper and plastics will create a sense of accountability and ensure the greatest amount of waste is diverted from landfills.

Challenging Business Recycling Initiatives

The most common recycling items in the workplace are paper, plastic and metal cans. Simply focusing on these items leaves a large portion of office operation waste items to be sent to landfill which contributes to the mounting waste problem. Since items like batteries, paint and chemicals, lightbulbs and electronics are designated as hazardous waste, unintentional disposal of these items could result in hazardous pollution of land, waterways and the air.

Additionally, without proper education, people may not be aware that items such as used toner and ink cartridges, aerosol cans and electronics are hazardous and could potentially designate an entire recycling load as contaminated. While many local recycling facilities accept hazardous waste drop-offs, regulations vary by area and taking the time to deliver the waste may waste precious company time.

Key Hazardous Waste Disposal Considerations

  • In what areas is there potential to reduce your overall use of this product?
  • What are the local hazardous waste designations and regulations in your area?
  • What items are possible to reuse or donate?
    • Ex: Unused paint is accepted by some local nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity.
  • Does your city accept hazardous waste or should you outsource to a waste disposal company?
  • What is the designated hazardous waste day?
  • How can you make time for waste collection during the work week and who will oversee it?
  • Where is the best, centralized location to place collection bins in your workplace?
  • What is the best way to properly educate your employees on hazardous waste management?

Green Business Bureau Initiative Overview: Hazardous Waste Disposal

As a member of Green Business Bureau, you will have access to our suite of initiatives which provide key steps, related content and related initiatives. You will be able to follow the suggested steps and track your company’s progress contributing to your overall points earned. Here’s a screenshot of an initiative related to hazardous waste disposal taken from the Green Business Bureau EcoPlanner.

If you are already a Green Business Bureau member, you can log on to your personal account, find this initiative under “Office Space,” complete the key steps and track your progress. If you are not a member but are interested to learn more about the tools and services that Green Business Bureau offers, browse your membership options here.

Dealing with Hard-To-Recycle Items

One of Green Business Bureau’s partners and members, g2 revolution®, develops specialty recycling solutions for businesses of all sizes, from retailers to manufacturers, in order for them to meet their sustainability goals while recycling hard-to-recycle items and materials.

Their mailback, bulk and post-consumer recycling services are fitting for retailers, grocers, manufacturers, hospitality and medical facilities looking for innovative end-of-life solutions for their products. This is an alternative to landfill or large hazardous waste programs to manage all types of materials shown below.

There are basically 4 stops to the g2 revolution program:

  • Launch – Each location in the launch stage will receive the included collection container for your product and/or packaging. Container type and size are able to be customized.
  • Collection – Employees place acceptable items into a collection container complete with regulatory labeling. Once full, use the prepaid shipping label to mail the container back to g2.
  • Processing – The g2 warehouse team receives each container where items are weighed and sorted to either be repurposed, reused as is or recycled.
  • Data – An all-access pass to your processed container information, location data and even expired containers is available through their proprietary myEco-Trak® software.

g2 revolution is a compliance first company. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued guidance on how to recycle certain items in select states without having to treat them as regulated waste. g2’s compliance team will work with you to ensure a smooth transition and execution with any recycling program.

Another national recycler, Rubicon, offers a wide range of recycling services. Rubicon manages all waste and recycling services through its extensive network of more than 7,000 vendor and hauler partners. Programs include cardboard (OCC), plastic, paper, metal, glass and electronics recycling, construction and demolition (C&D), organics recycling (including food waste and composting services) and single-stream recycling solutions (SSR). They also offer subject matter experts to manage commodity markets, zero-waste programs and other sustainability offerings.

Green Business Bureau’s Commitment to Proper Hazardous Waste Recycling

Here at Green Business Bureau, we are committed to helping our members become a more sustainable business. If you need help with an official company-wide recycling policy that stretches beyond simply paper and plastics, we can help you. We can also help create a sense of accountability and ensure the greatest amount of waste is diverted from landfills. Feel free to reach out to us and talk to one of our Sustainability Analysts. Let’s create a greener business world together.

About the Author

Leah Mowery

GBB Green Ambassador

Leah Mowery is a content writer for the Green Business Bureau who is passionate about using creativity and storytelling to relay the importance of sustainability. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal where she discovered a love for sustainable development. She fostered this interest in her Master’s in Global Sustainability program with a concentration in Climate Change at the University of South Florida. She enjoys painting, reading and all forms of outdoor recreation.

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