MARKET REPORT: WasteWise Helps Business Save Money

November 1, 1998

5 Min Read
MARKET REPORT: WasteWise Helps Business Save Money

Jeff Tumarkin


In Newsbriefs on page 10 of World Wastes' September 1998 issue, Rust Environment & Infrastructure's headquarters was incorrectly identified in Bellingham, Wash. Rust is located in Greenville, S.C.

The Bristol Landfill, which is pictured in "Update: STS Consultants Complete Landfill" on page 16 of World Wastes' October 1998 issue, is located in Virginia. STS Consultants, which assisted with the permitting, design and construction of the landfill, is located in Vernon Hills, III.

Most businesses probably consider their municipal solid waste (MSW) to be nothing more than "trash." What they might not realize is that their garbage holds an abundance of cost-saving opportunities.

By re-examining their waste streams with the help of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) WasteWise program, businesses and institutions nationwide, spanning more than 50 industry sectors, have boosted their profits by trimming waste.

In 1997, WasteWise partners eliminated more than 816,000 tons of materials through waste prevention. In avoided disposal fees alone, these reductions represent a potential savings of nearly $26 million in 1997.

EPA launched WasteWise in January 1994 as a voluntary partnership program to help businesses find practical methods for reducing MSW. Eliminating waste at the source yields the greatest cost savings because avoided purchasing costs are often much higher than avoided disposal fees.

Since the WasteWise program was launched, more than 800 businesses and organizations - one-third of which are Fortune 1,000 manufacturing or service firms - have become partners. EPA estimates that the combined savings of avoided disposal and purchasing costs for all partners in 1997 could be as high as $86 million.

In one example, Russell Corp., Alexander City, Ala., now uses cut fiber waste to manufacture the backing for knit athletic garments. This has eliminated more than 450 tons of textile waste and saved the company $360,000 in material costs in 1997.

WasteWise partners have found that it is often more cost-effective to reduce and reuse rather than to purchase excess supplies, materials and disposal. For example, Guardian Industries, Ligonier, Ind., initiated a program to launder and reuse gloves in good condition. In 1997, this program prevented 1.5 tons of gloves from being disposed. Instead of using disposable paper towels, the company also laundered and reused more than 3 tons of wiping cloths.

As part of the program, WasteWise helps organizations set their own waste reduction goals in waste prevention, recycling collection and purchasing or manufacturing recycled-content products. First, EPA suggests conducting a waste audit on operating and purchasing practices to identify opportunities for waste reduction. For example, a business might find that it can narrow its focus to target specific materials or operational areas.

The next step is to annually monitor progress toward the goals and to update EPA on the accomplishments. As a result of partners' tracking their efforts, EPA knows that its partners reduced nearly 18 million tons of waste over the program's first four years.

The most popular waste prevention methods include:

* Switching to reusables. For example, instead of using disposable paper towels, companies can save money by laundering and reusing wiping cloths.

* Going paperless. Last year, Aleatel USA, Plano, Texas, conserved nearly 5 tons of paper and saved $1 million dollars by converting its product manual to a CD/ROM version. Also, Matsushita Electric Corp. of America, Secaucus, N.J., provided online promotional information formerly sent as documents or disks to prospective buyers. This conserved more than 17 tons of computer disks and 14 tons of paper in 1997.

* Reusing paper. Two of the most common strategies, duplex copying (copying on both sides of a page) and reusing paper as scratch paper, works for all organizations. For example, Alden Central School, Alden, N.Y., reused a half-ton of paper by using both sides of each sheet and by making note pads out of once-used paper.

* Reducing manufacturing waste. Russell Corp. learned that making manufacturing processes more efficient and finding options to reuse "waste" materials such as excess fabric, both can help the environment and reduce manufacturing costs.

WasteWise offers a toll-free helpline, which provides information on waste reduction practices. Also, WasteWise representatives help businesses partners set goals and overcome obstacles.

WasteWise's regional networks allow businesses to ask each other questions and share waste reduction strategies through e-mail. The Partner Network website contains resources, program news and links to additional waste reduction websites.

Finally, members receive publications with waste reduction topics such as employee education, packaging reductions, going paperless, waste prevention measurement, remanufactured products, buy recycled, dona- tion programs, working with suppliers and extended product responsibility.

For more information about the WasteWise program, call the helpline toll-free at (800) 372-9473. The helpline is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Information also is available on the website: and via e-mail: [email protected]

Contracts Motorola's Land Mobile Products Sector, Schaumburg, Ill., has signed a multi-year contract with Waste Management of North America Inc., Houston, to manage wireless communications equipment facilities at the company's U.S. sites.

New Names The city of Los Angeles' Integrated Solid Waste Management Office has changed its name to Solid Resources Citywide Recycling Division and relocated to 433 S. Spring Street, MS944, 5th Floor, Los Angeles, Calif. 90013. Its phone number remains: (213) 847-1444.

Husky Manufacturing, Tower, Minn., has changed its name to Powerain Systems Inc.

Paint A Dumpster - The Sequel CLINTON, MD. - Charles County, Md., students will be painting up a storm on America Recycles Day, November 14, 1998. The county Department of Recycling and Mid-Atlantic Waste Systems, Clinton, Md., are sponsoring their "Paint-A-Dumpster II" contest.

The contest was developed in 1996 to get students involved in environmental and recycling issues, according to Doug Elam, environmental educator for Charles County. Entry forms were sent to local school principals, asking students to sketch "mobile billboard" designs. After receiving "hundreds of entries," the winners - J.C. Parks Elementary School and Milton Somers Middle School - were chosen and given a 40-yard roll-off and painting supplies. They then set to work painting their designs.

Charles County liked the elementary school entry, "Smash the Trash. Save the Bay," so much that it also decided to use the design for a litter control ad campaign that year. No contest was held in 1997.

This year, the winning entry in each level - elementary, middle and high school - will be awarded $100. Program sponsors will provide the cash prizes, paint and other materials. The winning schools can keep the excess paint, brushes and supplies for future uses.

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