Now that hazwastes "exchanges" have proven to be an environmentally responsible way to minimize disposal costs, many companies are turning their sights to solid waste.
Across the nation, networks are popping up to help businesses share waste reduction information and exchange used materials - anything from glass, plastics and paper products to orange rinds, film containers and used furniture. Goals of these "business helping business" programs are two-fold: to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and to improve a company's bottom-line by reducing new purchases, cutting handling and disposal costs and averting potential liabilities.
For example, WasteCap of Mas-sachusetts is a non-profit, public/private sector information clearinghouse that is state-wide and non-regulatory. Launched in Oc-tober, the program is unique because it was industry-initiated. The cornerstone of WasteCap's services is the confidential, free-of-charge visit in which a consulting team identifies site-specific ways to re-duce waste. The program also offers workshops, interactive computer models to evaluate waste streams and open houses to showcase organizations with successful recycling programs. "From the largest corporations to the smallest of family-run businesses, participants can reduce costs, improve productivity and help the environment," said Joel Beck, chairperson of WasteCap. The organization plans to begin a computer bulletin board materials exchange program sometime soon.
One county in Georgia that funds its own materials exchange program, EnviroShare, recently was named the top rural recycling program in the nation by the National Recycling Coalition, Washington, D.C. Directed by Rick Foote, the program targets industrial and commercial sources that generate 85 percent of Hall County's solid waste stream. Since it began last January, EnviroShare has saved an estimated 6,002 cubic yards of landfill space by finding new homes for waste paper and cardboard, glass, plastics and steel and aluminum cans (see chart). "Every day we pay to discard things that could be of use to others. It doesn't have to be this way," said one Enviro-Share administrator. Next, officials hope to receive a state grant so that the program can expand its newsletter distribution and eventually go on-line.
The Recycling Coalition of South Dakota (RCSD), Pierre, S.D., has taken a different twist to fund its program. The coalition is working with the Industry and Commerce Association, a private organization that represents the state's chambers of commerce, to develop an on-line exchange database. State Recycling Coordinator Terry Keller emphasizes that the program will be funded by advertisement fees charged to businesses rather than taxpayers' money. "We've got industries who want to control their own destinies and do the right thing," Keller said. "We're trying to make this a cooperative effort across political lines."
In one of the boldest initiatives yet, Pacific Materials Exchange, Mead, Wash., has used a grant from the U.S. EPA to develop the on-line National Materials Ex-change Network (NMEN), which lists nearly 9,000 materials from 42 exchanges across North Ameri-ca. The size of the network is its greatest asset. "The larger the number of materials identified, the more diverse they are and the more people reviewing them, the greater the probability of recycling occurring," said an NMEN administrator. So far, more than 3,000 companies have used NMEN, and there have been more than 2,800 material matches and referrals.