Business Sector Customer Recycling Improvement Project
What the Judges Said…
“This project demonstrates that going back to the basics can reduce environmental impact. A very thoughtful approach to increasing recycling rates that almost any organization could follow. The beauty was in the simplicity.”
Cleaning and maintenance services company SBM Management provides clients with waste reduction information and assistance, including communication about the appropriate placement of waste and recyclables, education, and the tracking of on-site diversion. SBM implemented a recycling re-labeling and container standardization initiative for a customer at 23 sites across the United States over a 12-month period.
SBM’s standard process was used to implement the project. The first step was baseline analysis. Tasks included holding a key stakeholder meeting, defining the objectives, completing a waste analysis, a cradle-to-grave waste-flow map, and a commodity identification, and performing container and signage inventory. Next, they performed data analysis to identify gaps and opportunities, which included the standardization of containers as well as signage for recycling, trash, and compost that would be easy to understand.
The final steps included continuous monitoring, data tracking, and improvement through visual observations, follow-up waste analyses as well as follow-up surveys of end users, additional outreach, and education, program reminder cards, and custodial staff training.
Once approval was obtained and the funding secured, SBM began an education and communication campaign with outreach events, electronic messages, and focused messaging. SBM says its recycling program model is unique for its simplistic approach. Focal points include customer collaboration and driving successful outcomes for behavior change such as improved recycling through image based, color-coded standardized signs and bins, and the provision of each disposal option at each disposal point.
For this project, the number of trash and recycling stations relabeled totaled 4,537. An additional 1,205 stations were installed. The programs affected 33,465 people. Education campaign efforts included 88 outreach events, 61 electronic communications, and 259 posters. Labor hours spent transitioning the stations totaled 2,126.
Progress for the project was measured in various ways. The first was through waste analyses with a combined total of 8,402 pounds of materials sorted. Then 38 pre-implementation and 28 post-implementation waste audits were performed for nine sites. The percent of recycling in the trash at these sites dropped from 19% to 13% by weight, and the percent of trash in the recycling dropped from 13% to 8% by weight.