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How Your Business Can Cut Costs by Reducing Waste

Over 7 million tons of waste are disposed of in North Carolina each year. Commercial and industrial businesses contribute 70 percent of that total. Because of the burden these wastes place on our environment and our economy, steps are being taken to reduce the amount of waste being generated and discarded. This fact sheet explains the state's waste reduction programs and how your business can benefit.

The State of North Carolina has responded to the need for better waste management by enacting solid waste management legislation (Senate Bill 111 and House Bill 1109.) These bills establish strategies for reducing solid waste. They also set goals for reducing the amount of municipal solid waste disposed of throughout the state 25 percent by June 30, 1993, and 40 percent by June 30, 2001. The methods to be used include reducing the amount of waste produced as well as recycling, reusing, and composting waste materials. The state law also bans certain materials from landfills: yard wastes, whole tires, used oil, lead-acid batteries, and "white " goods such as stoves. In addition, several counties have established bans or penalties for disposing of some recyclable materials, such as cardboard, in landfills. Our state's businesses discard a wide variety of materials, as shown in Figure 1. Paper, cardboard, and organic materials contribute the largest volume of solid waste, but metals, glass, textiles, plastics, and construction wastes are important components as well.

The Importance of Waste Reduction for Business

By taking steps to reduce waste, a business can

How to Reduce-Reuse-Recycle

Reducing Waste Production

The most direct way to cut your disposal costs is with source reduction: that is, by reducing the amount of waste your business produces. You have less to get rid of if you purchase and discard less material. By analyzing your business' waste stream, you will probably discover that you can eliminate much of the waste your business produces.

Reusing Waste Material

A cost-efficient method of reducing waste is to reuse products in their present form. It is usually cheaper to clean or repair products so that they can be reused rather than to buy new or recycled ones.


Many of the products that cannot be eliminated or reused can be recycled. Energy and natural resources are saved and environmental pollution is reduced when products are made from recycled rather than new materials. Your business can also cut disposal costs greatly by recycling.

Simple Ways to Reduce Waste

Here are examples of some easy ways to reduce the amount of waste that your business produces. Most of them involve simple changes in procedures and work habits.

Writing and Printing Paper

Packaging and Shipping


Landscaping and Organic Wastes

Food and Personal Services

You and your business can also help reduce waste by influencing your customers behavior. Here are some ideas

Keys to a Successful Waste Reduction and Recycling Program

Developing an effective waste reduction program for your business involves three main steps: planning, laying the groundwork, and carrying out the program as part of your business' daily activities. Here are the tasks to be carried out at each step.

Planning and Preparation

Getting the Program On-Line

Buying Recycled Products

Collecting recyclable items is only the first step in recycling. The loop is not complete until these items are made into new products and purchased. By purchasing products that are (1) manufactured from recycled materials, (2) recyclable, and (3) packaged in recyclable materials, you will help create a stable market for recycled items. Look for the following items made from recycled materials the next time your company purchases supplies:

Purchasing used, refurbished items instead of new ones helps, too. Look for

Sources of Information and Assistance

The following organizations can provide information and assistance in planning and conducting a waste reduction and recycling program for your business.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department
North Carolina State University
Box 7625
Raleigh, NC 27695-7625
Contact Rhonda Sherman-(919) 515-6770

Division of Pollution Prevention & Environmental Assistance
P. O. Box 29569
Raleigh, NC 27626-9569
(919) 715-6500 or (800) 763-0136
Note: The Pollution Prevention Program will conduct on-site waste audits and waste reduction assessments at industries.

North Carolina Recycling Association
7330 Chapel Hill Rd., Suite 207
Raleigh, NC 27607
Telephone (919) 851-8444

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region IV
345 Courtland Street, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30365
Telephone - (404) 347-2091

Southeast Waste Exchange
Urban Institute Department of Civil Engineering
University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Charlotte, NC 28223
Telephone (704) 547-2307

Your local recycling coordinator
Many communities have recycling coordinators who can help you set up a waste reduction program.


The following publications provide information that will be helpful in developing a waste reduction program and in locating recycling services.

Directory of Markets for Recyclable Materials. Division of Pollution Prevention, NC- DEHNR,
P.O. Box 29569, Raleigh, NC 27626-9569, P.O. Box 29526-9569,
919/715-6500 or 800/763-0136.

North Carolina Directory of Local Government Waste Reduction Programs and Contacts.
Division of Pollution Prevention, NC-DEHNR,
919/715-6500 or 800/763-0136.

Buy Recycled Products: How Your Office Can Help Complete the Recycling Loop, and

Official Paper Recycling Guide: How Your Office Can Participate in the Recycling Process. National Office Paper Recycling Project. U.S. Conference of Mayors, 162 Eye Street, NW, Fourth Floor, Washington, DC 20 Telephone (202) 293-7330.

Official Recycled Products Guide. Recoup Publishing Ltd., P.O. Box 577, Ogdensburg, NY 13669. Teleph (800) 267-0707.

Business Recycling Manual. Inform, Inc., 381 Park Avenue South, Suite 1201, New York, NY 10016. Telephone (212) 689-4040.

Water Quality & Waste Management

Prepared by:

Rhonda Sherman, Extension Agricultural Engineering Specialist

The material in this publication was adapted from "Reducing Waste in Your Business,"
published by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Published by

2/94-3M-TWK-240123 AG-473-10