Creating a Waste Reduction & Recycling Program

Waste Knot Program trash can Creating a Program

10 Keys to a Successful Waste Reduction & Recycling Program

  1. Top Management Support
  2. Employee Interest and Involvement
  3. Enthusiastic Leader
  4. Set and Define Clear Goals
  5. Determine What Will Be Recycled
  6. Focus on Waste Reduction
  7. Design the Collection and Storage System
  8. Bid Out Recycling and Waste Collection Contracts
  9. Education Program
  10. Promote Program Internally and Externally

Four Basic Steps to Develop a Waste Reduction & Recycling Program

  1. Step 1
  2. Step 2
  3. Step 3
  4. Step 4

Step 1: Identify Target Materials

The first step involves spending a little time looking around your facility to evaluate what types of materials are being generated (thrown away / unused materials) and in what quantities.  Materials generated in the highest volumes are your target materials. Your waste reduction and recycling program should be built around these materials.

It is important locate where waste materials are generated in your operation as well as how the waste materials are generated (this helps to create waste reduction activities). It may be helpful to have a copy of the floor plan to note your discoveries. This information will be used for Step 2: Designing the Program.

It is important to note that this activity does not have to be a technical event that requires a team of scientists. Listed below are commonly found target materials for different categories of organizations.

Business Office

  • Beverage containers
  • Binders
  • Cardboard
  • Envelopes [with / out windows, Tyvek, etc.]
  • Kitchen Waste [vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, etc.]
  • Office Supplies [electronics, staplers, etc.]
  • Paper [catalogs, files / folders, manuals, etc.]
  • Paper Towel

Manufacturing Facility

  • Cardboard
  • Liquid Waste [oil, antifreeze, gasoline, etc.]
  • Newspaper
  • Pallets/Wood
  • Plastic Packaging [containers/wrap]
  • Scrap metal


  • Cardboard
  • Display Items [hooks, racks, signs, etc.]
  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Special items: This includes flowers (florists) and reusable items like clothing or damaged shipments. Flowers can be dropped off for compost at municipality recycling stations and reusable items can be donated to charitable organizations.

Auto Maintenance Shop

  • Automotive batteries
  • Cardboard
  • Liquid Waste [oil / filters, antifreeze, gasoline, etc.]
  • Metals [reusable or scrap parts]
  • Paper towels [replace with reusable rags]  
  • Tires