MARKETING: Recycling: From Haulers to Architects

What if haulers, business managers and recycling professionals could share their recycling and waste reduction experiences in a friendly learning environment? WasteCap Wisconsin, Milwaukee, a non-profit organization, is providing this outlet through a business-to-business peer exchange called Talk & Tours.

At Talk & Tours meetings, haulers, contractors and architects discuss ways to reduce waste, hear a waste reduction success story and learn from peers. These sessions are educational open houses that transfer successful waste reduction and recycling strategies by:

* Demonstrating ways to save money through waste reduction and recycling;

* Providing opportunities to network within the industry and share waste reduction and recycling experiences and resources;

* Describing waste reduction and recycling success stories and practices; and

* Discussing ways to address industry challenges.

Talk & Tours begins with informal networking, followed by a brief presentation by the host company, which shares its waste reduction and recycling challenges. Then, attendees tour the host business facility - witnessing its waste reduction practices. The event ends with an interactive discussion.

For example, haulers describe how they work with businesses to establish recycling programs, what they collect, how they separate materials and the importance of educating employees. Also, they find new sources for marketing recyclable items and learn the service needs in their area.

Talk & Tours current topic is construction and demolition waste, which constitutes 30 percent of the state's non-municipal waste stream.

For example, hosting one recent event, the Hoffman Corp., Appleton, Wis., discussed its efforts to include reducing, reusing and recycling the waste from constructing its new headquarters. During the meeting, attendees learned that several recycled materials are used in the building, including strand board lumber, recycled steel, recycled carpet, floor tile and composition flooring.

Hoffman's drywall recycler also discussed its recycling efforts. Very little drywall is recycled nationally, although it represents 20 percent of the construction waste stream, he says.

Another event in the construction and demolition series was hosted by Flad & Associates, Madison, Wis., an architectural firm and CG Schmidt, Milwaukee, a construction company. Each business gave its perspective on waste reduction and recycling.

Flad & Associates shared its study on the economics of recycling different materials and the actual recycling at construction sites. CG Schmidt discussed how it used recycled and low-toxicity materials at its headquarters, which attendees toured.

Recently, Bachmann Construction and the Williamson Street Cooperative Grocery Store, both located in Madison, co-hosted a Talk & Tour that included a tour of a newly renovated grocery store and a discussion on the successes of grocers and contractors who work to reuse and recycle construction waste. During the grocery store tour, participants learned it is 10 times more expensive to landfill asphalt than it is to recycle it, and that many items were reused such as hardwood flooring and windows. Also, the project's contractor shared that he used the scrap drywall on his farm as a soil amendment.

In addition to Talk & Tour events, WasteCap Wisconsin also provides services including:

* Waste assessments followed by recommendations from volunteers who conduct confidential site visits. One recent assessment helped a contractor donate doors for reuse and recycle limestone buildings panels, concrete and other building materials.

* Telephone assistance to answer questions ranging from where to recycle computers to when upcoming conferences will be held.

* Publications that provide valuable resources and markets for construction and demolition debris, an economics worksheet, case studies and steps to set up a construction site recycling program.

Next year, the Talk & Tour program will highlight three industry sectors - construction, food and lodging.

To learn more about WasteCap Wisconsin, or to receive the Talk & Tour Guide with instructions on how to plan for and host a Talk & Tour, contact (414) 961-1100, e-mail or visit