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Environmental Issues

Make recycling work at your carwash

March 16, 2011
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This month, Professional Carwashing & Detailing tracked down recycling expert Matt Riggs from to give carwash operators an idea of how they can “green up” their carwash businesses. was developed by the Solid Waste Management District and the Mid-America Regional Council. It is funded partially by grants from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

What follows are Riggs’ top 12 recommendations for implementing a recycling program at your carwash.

1. Form a “green team”. Approaching recycling as a team can help ensure the success of your recycling program. A “green team” is a group of employees interested in recycling and helping to set up a program. Identify a recycling point person to handle tasks such as answering staff questions, managing the green team and program oversight.

2. Determine materials you will recycle. Performing a waste audit can help. A waste audit is an inventory of the amount and type of solid waste (trash) produced at a location. Identify commonly recycled business items, such as:

  • Office paper
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Aluminum cans
  • Plastic bottles
  • Toner and ink jet cartridges

3. Contact your property manager. Find out if there are any recycling programs in place. Ask them to provide office paper, cardboard, aluminum can and plastic bottle recycling as a service to building tenants. Remind them that recycling can reduce waste disposal costs.

4. On your own. If your property manager cannot provide recycling, or you are a small business, meet with your green team and decide what materials you want to recycle.

5. Contact a recycling company. Interview multiple companies and get price estimates for providing a dumpster and pickup services. Most recycling companies provide rebates on materials collected.

6. Consider drop-off recycling. If pickup services are not an option, another option is to take your recyclables to a drop-off recycling center.

7. Coordinate collection. Schedule a date for collection with your recycling service provider, janitorial crew and/or staff. Think about:

  • Small bins – You can provide durable recycling containers to each staff person or ask them to use copy paper boxes or something similar at their work stations. Decide what type and size of bin to locate next to printers, fax machines and other machines that generate paper.
  • Central bins – Locate large recycling bins in copy rooms or break rooms.
  • Collection – Create a regular schedule and determine who will pick up recycling from the small and central bins. It may be staff, janitorial crew or a combination.

8. Communicate all this information to your entire staff and janitorial crew. Distribute fact sheets describing the new recycling program for employees and janitorial staff and post updates on your company’s intranet site. Provide bins and collection containers as mentioned above and mark containers with signs labeled by item. It is helpful to use the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol.

9. Plan a fun kick-off event. Send a memo from management to all employees encouraging participation. Fun events, giveaways and refreshments could be provided and you can distribute fact sheets, signs and containers.

10. Let others know about your efforts. Write articles for the employee newsletter, intranet, and building and industry newsletters. Acknowledge people for changing their habits and keep people informed of the results of their efforts. Seek staff’s suggestions. Send out press releases to the local media. You may also want to include information in customer or client mailings. Include your recycling efforts in company promotional pieces.

11. Have your green team meet regularly to evaluate your recycling program’s progress. A successful program will continue to grow in volume recycled. The team can also address other green issues such as energy consumption and alternative transportation.

12. Stay in contact with staff. Update your staff regularly on the program’s progress. Send out periodic recycling reminders. Train new employees about the recycling program.

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