When it comes to trash and recycling, it can be difficult to determine what’s fact and what’s fiction. So I wanted to set the record straight by addressing some of the common waste myths and misconceptions taking up precious, unwanted space in between your ears – and provide you with the real truths that lie behind them.
Admittedly, I didn’t know what was fact and what was fiction for some of the items below when I started this. Perhaps you won’t either. But I think that’s the point.
We should know these things. And rather than us assuming we know what’s right from wrong when it comes to waste, let’s sort out the truth from the garbage once and for all.
Myth #1: Trash pickup is a utility
Truth: A utility suggests you don’t have options, but in reality, who you work with to manage your waste can make all the difference.
Don’t feel stuck with your incumbent waste provider. You can choose a partner that will create a customized waste plan, and competitive pricing, to benefit your business.
Myth #2: Landfills solve all our waste problems
Truth: Unfortunately, the current waste management approach is flawed. Landfills are not the solution to our waste management problems as they ignore the cost of waste and ultimately, miss opportunities to preserve resources.
Landfills aren’t an ideal solution for several reasons but perhaps most concerning, is that they pollute the ground, water, and soil. Sending trash to landfills also requires a large volume of heavy transportation, adding further to pollution costs.
Myth #3: Sustainability programs are just for big enterprise
Truth: It’s a common misconception that you need a dedicated sustainability team, hundreds of locations, and resources devoted to training and education to run a waste reduction program. By optimizing waste processes, even small businesses can adopt recycling programs that are both easy to implement and cost-effective.
Myth #4: Increases in waste removal prices are unavoidable
Truth: Because so many waste companies tack on hidden fees without explanation, businesses often assume trash and recycling prices have nowhere to go but up.
It’s certainly possible to find a waste partner that delivers transparency. Our advice would be to find a provider that will optimize hauler routes and pickups, so you can finally reduce those waste bills.
Myth #5: Multiple locations means juggling many vendors and contracts
Truth: Don’t waste time trying to manage trash and recycling for every location and every type of waste. It’s absolutely possible to consolidate your billing and only work with one waste partner to handle it all.
Myth #6: One person cannot make a difference
Truth: The power of one is real, especially when it comes to recycling. A great example of this can be found in the following statement.
Recycling only one aluminum can save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours!
Pretty amazing to think of the possibilities that exist, particularly when you consider the positive impact that can be made when just one person acts proactively toward sustainability.
On the flip side, a single person can also make a pretty sizeable negative impact if they spread the notion that one person cannot make a difference. Recycling will only become successful if it’s done on a personal level by every one of us.
Myth #7: Biodegradable waste is eco-friendly
Truth: Many people assume that biodegradable waste is ok for the environment. Some also assume that it doesn’t need to be recycled because it breaks down naturally in landfills.
Biodegradable waste releases greenhouse gases in the forms of methane and carbon dioxide. When these greenhouse gases leak into our atmosphere, they take their toll on the environment – contributing to universal issues such as global warming.
To this day, a majority of landfills operate under the notion that methane can be harnessed and used for energy. However, biodegradable waste, in particular, decomposes too quickly to capture methane for energy purposes. Furthermore, biodegradable plastic releases the most methane in the average landfill, according to Rodale News’ Emily Main.
By David Rachelson, VP of Sustainability at Rubicon Global, a Certified B Corporation that is the world’s leading provider of sustainable waste and recycling solutions. At Rubicon, David spearheads the company’s sustainability efforts focused on diverting waste from landfills and developing circular economy solutions that keep materials within the value chain, serving as regenerative feedstock for future producers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.