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Recycling Opportunities Made Simple for Regional Businesses

February 11th, 2016

Chances are you’ve recently read or heard something about recycling in the metro area. A lot of attention has been placed on recycling efforts, especially for businesses, within the past year. To meet a 75% waste diversion goal set for the Metro area, a new recycling mandate for businesses went into effect on January 1st of this year. Now that most businesses are required to recycle at least 3 different materials, several programs and resources have come online to help.

Depending on the business location, there may be free technical assistance, grant funds, and educational resources available Sam Hanson Wasteto help reduce waste and recycle more. For businesses with multiple sites, it can be difficult to navigate the resources available and initiate new practices across sites. To help businesses determine the best ways to implement change across all their locations, Environmental Initiative is engaging regional decision-makers with influence on waste and recycling practices at national/regional chains, companies with multiple sites or locations, and commercial property management companies. We’re connecting businesses with the best resources available to help create large-scale change across all their locations in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington Counties.

With the recycling mandate in effect, the opportunity to save money, and the positive environmental benefits of enhanced resource management, it’s never been a better time to improve recycling for businesses. Know a decision-maker who can influence waste and recycling changes across the metro region? Contact me at 612-334-3388 ext. 8111.

Sam Hanson

POSTED BY:

Director, Sustainability Program

Using Business as a Force for Good

December 8th, 2015

There are plenty of buzzwords flying around in sustainability conversations – cradle to cradle, carbon footprint, net positive, etc. It is an exciting time of new collaborations and great momentum regarding the role of business in tackling large environmental challenges, but what if while protecting the environment, we do even more?

At Tech Dump, we consider it a great honor and privilege to apply yet another buzzword – “triple bottom line.” We focus on people, planet, and profit, while refurbishing and recycling unwanted electronics for residents and businesses. In doing so, we also hope to invite other organizations to make an impact through their daily business operations.

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People: Beyond our environmental impact, we focus on employability training for adults facing barriers to employment. We firmly believe that just as electronics are not disposable, people are not disposable. While the United States is home to 5% of the world’s population, we consume 25% of the world’s resources and incarcerate 25% of the world’s incarcerated people. Jobs are a small part of the solution. About 75% of our employees have spent time in the justice system, and we are a stepping stone for earning a reputation as a reliable worker allowing for an individual to successfully move on to a livable wage job after successfully completing 9-12 months of employment with us.

Planet: It is true that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. While a company may no longer believe a laptop meets their employee’s needs, it may still be a great system that we can refurbish and get back into use. For items that cannot be repaired and reused, we work with vetted vendors to process the components back to usable steel, plastic, silver, gold, etc. And we don’t just want a company to have to take our word for it; we pursued the R2 Certification, a voluntary third-party certification to make sure our practices meet high industry standards.film Dark Places streaming

Profit: No matter the tax structure of an organization as a for-profit or nonprofit, the organization must be financial sustainable to ensure important work continues. Previous mentalities of social impact only being possible in the nonprofit sector are long gone—the emergence of social enterprises has shown business principles can be applied to all sorts of structures. Establishing metrics to measure impact, not just our ability to cash flow, allows us to gauge the effectiveness of our efforts.

We recognize every organization is different, so here a few ways to apply triple bottom line thinking:

  • How can your current daily business activities increase your social and environmental impact?
  • When considering vendors, do you consider a broader social mission in your decision-making?
  • What partnerships could allow your organization to increase your impact?

There is no shortage of electronics recycling resources for your home and your business. We’re here to help, so drop me an email or leave a comment here with questions or to learn more.

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A note from Environmental Initiative:
Tech Dump has been an invaluable partner on the Waste Reduction Collaborative. In September, we had the opportunity to tour the Golden Valley facility where we responsibly recycled our accumulating e-waste. Amanda LaGrange’s passion for her work was so inspiring during the tour, we wanted to share the Tech Dump story and the great work they’re doing. For more information on Tech Dump, visit www.TechDump.org.

Amanda LaGrange

POSTED BY:

CEO, Tech Dump

Most Twin Cities Businesses Now Required to Recycle

November 4th, 2015

By January 1, 2016, owners of commercial property in the seven-county metro area will need to make sure their buildings have recycling services along with garbage collection. The new law (Minn. Stat. 115A.151) applies to most commercial buildings that have service for 4 cubic yards (or more) of trash per week, and requires that a minimum of three material types be collected for recycling. Recyclables could include, but are not limited to paper, plastic, glass, metal, and organics (food scraps and compostable paper). Depending on the type of business you operate, there may also be opportunities to recycle more unique materials such as textiles. Many businesses also have a good amount of clean plastic film from packaging and shipping that can be collected. Knowing the type of materials your business discards will help determine which items will make the most sense to recycle; you may have opportunities that you never expected!

recycling bins

Even if the law does not apply to your commercial property, it provides an opportunity for all businesses to increase their recycling. Unlike many other aspects of running a business where spending is examined regularly, businesses frequently set up their disposal services and then rarely think about it again. However, with a 17 percent state tax on garbage (recycling is not taxed), and sometimes an even higher fee assessed by the local county, trashing recyclables can be expensive. Minnesotans spend a good deal of money throwing away recyclable material every year, but they have great potential value to the economy – recycling directly and indirectly supports nearly 37,000 jobs, and the materials have a value of over $250 million. In addition, many businesses are finding it is good for business to recycle – many customers want to know that the companies they support are committed to sustainable practices in their operations.

Implementing a successful recycling program can take work. Some businesses may need to make changes to accommodate recycling bins in the layout of their workplace, as well as on their docks. Similarly, helping staff learn how to properly participate in the program is essential to success, so you will need to set up a quality training program. Many cities and counties offer assistance to business owners, sometimes in the form of financial support to set up new or improved collection systems. There are also several local resources for signage and education, including the Recycling Association of Minnesota and Rethink Recycling. All of these resources, and more, can be found on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Commercial Recycling page. Additional questions? Contact Emily Barker or 651- 757-2030.

Emily Barker

POSTED BY:

Organics and Recycling Specialist, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
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