Post-Pandemic Recycling Challenges

by Lawton Brothers | Oct 11, 2022

At the start of the pandemic in the United States, there was a large spike in daily waste volumes combined with curtailed garbage collection and a cutback in recycling. While workplace waste production fell at the height of 2020 and 2021, household waste rose to a degree that offsets the decrease in commercial waste. Additionally, the increase in ill patients needing treatment caused medical waste volumes to surge as well. So how do we combat this large waste problem? 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Of course, we all know the 3 R’s of being environmentally friendly. And while the amount of waste we recycle in the US is almost 35%, each American still generates 4.9 pounds of waste on average each day (and it’s only growing each year). Reduction is the most important of the three R’s as this will limit the number of new plastics and other products being put into circulation. Based on the product, you will want to decide whether to reuse it or recycle it. While recycling a car can be extremely difficult, reusing or donating a car can save 8,811 pounds of CO2 greenhouse emissions (when compared to building a new one). 

Find Locations for Strange Items

Most of us don’t have cars that we’re trying to get rid of, but we do have some other items that can’t be accepted by your municipal recycling. Items such as batteries, phones, laptops, and furniture will have specific locations that offer recycling that can be found with a google search. Once you’ve located a facility for your items, designate an area in your office for recycling collection so employees can bring in items from home as well that need to be recycled. Once a month (or whenever your box is full), take the items to your nearest recycling location and you’re all set! A task that may take us 20 minutes to complete could save items from ending up in landfills for hundreds of years!

Opt for Sustainable Products

There are a myriad of places your business can make an eco-friendly swap. Consider using a refillable spray bottle or soap pump – not only are the dispensing parts non-recyclable, but reusing the container will prevent numerous bottles from going to the trash. Look at how your materials are sourced, how your services and goods are delivered, how much waste is being produced, and where you can make improvements for a better impact on the environment. 

Going Forward

In 2021, multiple states introduced or updated bills regarding plastic content in packaging and single-use plastics. Many states have similar plans on the table for 2022 or 2023 and President Biden has claimed that addressing climate change is a priority for his administration. This means that going forward, recycling will only become more prominent. About $350 million in recycling-related funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is expected to start becoming available by the end of the year, which may offer more opportunities for environmental initiatives. 

Stay Green

Lawton Brothers offers a variety of products that are environmentally friendly and get the job done! From paper products to chemicals and equipment rentals, we’ve got everything for your janitorial needs. Give us a call with your questions and see how you can get a free cleaning audit today at: 800.432.0813.

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