How To Manage Commercial Waste

Large green plastic trash cans on city street. Containers on wheels with a handle to collect commercial and resident trash. Disposal of household and industrial waste. Place for text.

For businesses all around the globe, commercial waste management is a crucial aspect of running a successful, responsible, and ethical company.

However, commercial waste management can seem complex without the right strategy in place.

A comprehensive commercial waste management plan should involve the proper collection, disposal, and recycling of waste generated by any commercial business activities. Whether it’s disposing of waste produced by employees while on the clock or waste produced through operational and production processes, knowing how to deal with commercial waste correctly is vital.

In this article, we explore why commercial waste management is so essential and the benefits of having a clear waste management strategy in place.

Keep reading to learn five key tips for improving your commercial waste management process!

What is Commercial Waste Management?

Commercial waste management is the process of properly collecting and disposing of waste produced by a commercial business. This includes all waste materials generated by businesses, industrial facilities, and commercially-labeled establishments. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) divides waste into two main categories: 

  1. Hazardous Waste: Hazardous waste is any type of waste that poses a serious threat to human health and the environment. This type of waste can be generated in numerous ways and includes liquids, solid gases, and sludges. When dealing with hazardous waste, your business may be subject to specific EPA regulations. Additionally, hazardous waste must be recycled, treated, stored, and disposed of via secure means in accordance with EPA standards. 
  2. Non-Hazardous Waste: Non-hazardous waste typically refers to solid waste that can be disposed of in municipal landfills or other designated waste-disposal centers. This type of waste is also subject to specific EPA regulations, though these regulatory expectations are generally much more relaxed compared to hazardous waste. This can include items like paper, cardboard, plastics, and food waste. 

These waste management classifications can apply to businesses, healthcare facilities, non-profits, and other entities. As far as specific commercial waste management regulations go, these regulations can vary from state to state.

Why You Should Manage Commercial Waste: 6 Key Benefits to Consider

Effective commercial waste management is beneficial to your business for many reasons and can have a massively advantageous impact when handled properly.

Here are 6 key benefits of commercial waste management to consider: 

  1. Environmental Protection: Improper waste disposal can lead to pollution of air, soil, and water sources. In turn, this can adversely impact your local ecosystems and wildlife. By managing commercial waste responsibly and ethically, your business can significantly reduce its ecological footprint and make significant contributions to environmental protection efforts.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: As stated, each state in the U.S. has its own local regulations for dealing with commercial waste. Adhering to these rules helps businesses avoid penalties and legal consequences, ensuring smooth operations and a positive reputation. Additionally, if your business operates internationally, you may need to research and follow varying international regulations for waste management as well. 
  3. Cost Savings: Implementing waste reduction and recycling initiatives can lead to cost savings for your business. By reducing waste generation and utilizing recycling programs, your business can cut down on waste disposal expenses, avoid fees for non-compliance in your local area, and even generate additional revenue from local recycling incentives. 
  4. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Consumers and stakeholders increasingly demand that businesses adopt sustainable practices — especially as ESG regulations become more prominent in the mainstream. Proper waste management demonstrates a commitment to CSR and ESG, enhancing your business’s reputation, public image, and customer loyalty.
  5. Resource Conservation & Efficiency: Following the right commercial waste management strategy can help you increase resource conservation by reusing materials and minimizing overall waste. This can include many natural resources, such as timber, water, and energy. Preservation of energy and other resources can also greatly increase operational efficiency. 
  6. Positive Employee Engagement: Your employees want to know they are working for a responsible and ethical company. Giving employees the opportunity to engage with ethical waste management practices can not only motivate them and increase their overall loyalty but also help to instill positive practices that extend into their personal lives. 

5 Top Tips on How to Manage Commercial Waste

If your business is still figuring out how to properly manage commercial waste, fear not — we have compiled a list of handy tips for optimizing your commercial waste management strategy,

Here are our five top tips for effectively handling commercial waste responsibly: 

1. Reduce Overall Commercial Waste

Waste reduction should always be your first priority when managing commercial waste. This can be as simple as installing recycling bins throughout your business office and facilities, though larger businesses should engage in more proactive waste reduction efforts.

Here are three ways you can begin reducing waste at your business beyond recycling bins: 

  • Conduct Waste Audits: Perform regular “waste audits” to identify the types, quantities, and sources of waste produced by your business and employees. This will not only help to pinpoint where to focus waste reduction efforts but can also uncover areas of your business that may lack efficiency and ethical operational practices as a whole. 
  • Promote Conscious Consumption: Your employees are always going to be one source of waste for your company — but they don’t need to be the main one. By encouraging your employees to practice greater mindfulness with their consumption habits, you can reduce the level of employee waste being produced (i.e. switching from paper records to digital records). 
  • Partner with Sustainable Suppliers: With a growing emphasis on environmental conversation in today’s culture, there are many suppliers who specialize in sustainable products. Collaborating with these suppliers who follow sustainable practices and package their products with minimal and biodegradable packaging is an excellent way to reduce your commercial waste. 

2. Work with Commercial Waste Management Companies

If your business team is already juggling many responsibilities, adding commercial waste management to the mix may be less than ideal. Luckily, there are plenty of third-party companies that specialize in helping dispose of waste by offering dump rental and junk removal services.

3. Establish A Waste Sorting System

As we have already discussed, one of the easiest ways to begin improving your approach to commercial waste management is by installing recycling bins around your office. 

Creating a clear waste sorting system for your business team to follow makes it easy to dispose of waste properly and without hassle. Plus, it adds virtually no extra responsibilities for your team other than making sure to dispose of their trash in the proper containers. 

To establish a waste sorting system, make sure to: 

  • Provide sufficient and clearly labeled waste and recycling bins
  • Educate employees on the new waste sorting system and emphasize its importance
  • Monitor the new waste sorting system and make improvements based on employee feedback

4. Put Together a Waste Management Team

While you should ideally avoid placing additional responsibilities on your employees, forming an official waste management team within your business can be extremely helpful. 

A waste management team is mainly beneficial for large businesses that may struggle to adequately monitor and improve their waste sorting system without additional help. The key is to delegate coordination roles to the right employees and give your team the means to engage with your new waste management initiatives in the ways that work best for them.

Incentives and rewards are always useful for motivating employees to follow new waste protocols!

5. Begin Recycling Your Commercial Waste

We’ve said it a few times now but one of the hands-down most vital components of commercial waste management is recycling. Not only can recycling reduce your overall waste, but it can also potentially qualify you for various recognitions and rewards.

The U.S. EPA provides a list of all state recycling tax incentives for businesses investing in recycling equipment. For example, in Florida, the recycling investment tax credit is worth $500 for each $100,000 invested in recycling equipment, as well as an additional $500 for adding new employees specifically for the purpose of a waste management initiative. 

Final Thoughts

Effective commercial waste management comes down to a combination of personal responsibility and ethical business practices. To achieve a sustainable waste management strategy, it is crucial to invest in the right equipment, follow all relevant regulations, and foster sustainable mindsets amongst employees. 

Take action today to improve your commercial waste management strategy and discover the many benefits sustainable business practices have to offer.

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