Reduce. Reuse. Recyle.
By practicing the “3 Rs” – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – your business will produce less waste. Below are some low-cost or no-cost actions you can take to:
- Reduce the amount and toxicity of the trash you discard
- Reuse products
- Recycle as much as possible
1. Print two-sided
Computer printers and copiers are voracious consumers of paper. For most day-to-day business needs, printing on both sides of a page is satisfactory. Most printers and copiers can be easily set to default to two-sided printing.
Benefit: Two-sided printing can potentially cut your paper costs in half. That’s about $2.50 per ream.
2. Recycle toner cartridges
Recycling used toner cartridges from your printers and copiers is a great and easy way to expand your recycling programs. Several leading toner cartridge manufacturers encourage consumers to return their used cartridges for recycling, using the box containing the new cartridge to send the empty one back. Most even pick up the tab for mail return.
Benefit: About 97 percent of all toner components are recyclable. This equals about 120 million pounds of material that could be diverted from landfills each year.
Some manufacturers with toner cartridge recycling programs:
- Canon USA, The Clean Earth Campaign, 1-800-OK-CANNON
- Hewlett-Packard, Planet Partners, 1-800-340-2445
- Lexmark International, Operation Resource, 1-800-539-6275
- Xerox, Environmental Partnership/The Green Team, 1-800-822-2200
3. Reduce electronic waste
With the pace of technological advancement, electronic equipment becomes outdated quickly. Electronic tools such as computers, copiers, printers and monitors can be reused, upgraded and remanufactured.
- Donating reusable electronic equipment to schools or other nonprofit organizations
- Buying remanufactured equipment instead of new equipment
- Contracting with suppliers to lease electronics
- Recycling equipment that can’t be reused
Benefit: Extending the life of electronic products can also reduce disposal costs and provide potential tax write-offs.
For further resources to help you reduce electronic waste see the EPA’s Electronics Challenge.
4. Use recycled content paper
Creating a strong market for recycled products is key to completing the recycling process or “closing the loop.” You can help by purchasing products made from recycled materials. Using recycled paper is a great way to get started.
Benefit: Most recycled paper is equal in quality to paper made from virgin materials. It also costs about the same per ream.
5. Recycle fluorescent lamps
Fluorescent lamps are one of the most energy-efficient lighting sources available. Most contain mercury, however, which is highly toxic to the human nervous system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers fluorescent tubes a “Universal Waste” and businesses are required to recycle or dispose of them properly through a licensed hazardous waste disposal company, not at the landfill. Recycling spent mercury-containing lamps offers an environmentally sound alternative to expensive hazardous waste disposal. Your lighting equipment supplier, or waste disposal or recycling contractor, can assist with lamp recycling.
Benefit: New low mercury lamps are now on the market. Purchasing low mercury lamps may change the waste designation of your fluorescent tubes. This designation change could save you money because you wouldn’t need to work with expensive hazardous waste disposal firms.
Do It Now: things you can put into practice right away
- Set your printers and copiers to two-sided printing
- Contact your local or county waste management agencies to find out who recycles electronic waste in your area
- Pack up and ship used toner cartridges back to their manufacturer
Greening Your Bottom Line
Does Reducing, Recycling and Reusing really put money in the pockets of businesses while keeping refuse out of landfills? Yes it does. And here are a few examples of businesses identified by the EPA that have done just that!
- The Boston Park Plaza Hotel has proved that even a luxury hotel can “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” without sacrificing quality. In fact, since the program was launched, hotel executives estimate having generated more than $750,000 in new convention business because of clients’ desire to support this environmentally conscious establishment.
- Westfield Shoppingtown Mission Valley, a 1.5-million-square-foot outdoor shopping center in San Diego, California, lowered its annual waste disposal costs by more than 40 percent between 1994 and 2002 because of Greening efforts.
Additionally, a study of 10 northeastern states found that processing and remanufacturing recyclable materials in the region added more than $7.2 billion to the value of the materials.
Source: Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company
At Ellis Insurance, we are proud to be a green insurance leader. We have been providing exceptional service and intelligent insurance for over 20 years. Please contact us for additional information on our creative and industry-leading green insurance alternatives.