e-Waste in New York. How to Recycle the Office Out-of-Order Electronics

Electronic devices are an inseparable part of the modern office. It’s near impossible to conduct business and perform daily work tasks without a laptop, printer, or projector. The use of electronic devices in the workplace, however, poses the question: “What happens to out-of-order electronic devices?

Like consumers, offices are required to recycle most of their electronic devices once no longer in use. All computers, peripherals, TVs, small-scale servers, and other small electronic equipment and supporting e-devices are included in the recycling list.

In New York, specifically, the Department of Environmental Conservation has established guidelines on what is considered e-waste, and how consumers and companies should recycle electronics. 

How much of the e-waste is actually recyclable?

Let’s look closer. But first… 

Why Is It Important to Recycle e-Waste?

Both working and broken items that are no longer in use can be considered e-waste. Left to decay in landfills or dusty storage rooms, these appliances become a threat to our health and environment.

Most of the e-devices – whether in consumers’ homes or business offices – have a complex structure that is put together with the help of some heavy metals. Although they can range greatly from device to device some of the compounds found in electronics are lead, mercury, cobalt, nickel, and even arsenic. If electronic equipment isn’t carefully disassembled and recycled, these metals can leak into the atmosphere, the soil, and water, and harm us and the rest of the species in our eco-systems.

Recycling e-waste is vital to preserving a clean environment, but it is also sparing us further mining for the metals used in the construction of electronics. This in turn decreases air pollution, the eroding of the soil, and the destruction of natural habitats. Recycling also solves the problem of depleting natural resources, ensuring our technological future is preserved. 

You may now understand why recycling is an important tool for keeping e-waste out of landfills and adding to the problems of pollution, you might even be ready to take steps in ensuring your office starts its e-waste recycling journey. And that’s great! Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

What Are the e-Waste Management & Disposal Rules in New York?

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the institution providing stewardship on how e-waste should be disposed of and recycled around the country. Along with the EPA, each state has its own recycling programs and legislation. Currently, 25 states (plus the District of Columbia) have set specific rules on how households and enterprises should dispose of electronic waste. 

In the state of New York, The NY State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act (Environmental Conservation Law, Article 27, Title 26) establishes the proper actions individuals and entities must take to ensure their e-waste is recycled in an environmentally-responsible manner. 

According to the act, consumers and businesses are obliged to recycle a great part of their electronic waste. Items like computers, computer peripherals, TVs, small-scale servers, and electronic equipment are subject to recycling regulations. Furthermore, the NY State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act requires manufacturers of electronic devices to offer free and appropriate recycling services to most of the consumers in the state. 

Who Is Eligible For Receiving Free e-Waste Services? 

Eligible consumers according to the act are:

  • Individuals
  • Non-profit organizations / charities
  • Corporations with less than 50 full-time employees
  • Non-profit corporations with less than 75 full-time employees 
  • Non-profit corporations designated under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code
  • Schools
  • Governmental entities located in NY

Who Is Not Eligible For Receiving Free e-Waste Services? 

There are some consumers who, according to the NY State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act, are not eligible for free e-waste recycling services. Those are: 

  • Non-profit organizations with 50 or more employees
  • Non-profit corporations with 75 or more employees 

Along with the NY State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act, there is the NY State Wireless Telephone Recycling Act (Environmental Conservation Law, Article 27, Title 23*2). This legislative act establishes that wireless telephone service providers are required to offer free reuse and recycling of up to 10 cell phones from any person or provide free shipping of those mobile phones to a recycling facility. 

How Is New York Disposing of Its e-Waste?

If you’re living in New York, you’re probably aware that some categories of your e-waste should not be thrown away but recycled. Devices that contain heavy metals and other chemicals fall under that category. These are usually marked as hazardous waste and labeled appropriately, so you know how to sort them. 

Individual Consumers

As an individual consumer, you can take advantage of several options when disposing of your e-waste. 

You can: 

  • Set a pick-up appointment if you live on Staten Island
  • Sign up your apartment building for pickups from the ecycleNYC program
  • Take it personally to a drop-off location
  • Send e-devices to the manufacturer or retailer for recycling
  • Donate the devices if in good working condition

Tenants should be aware that it’s their responsibility to discard electronics, and not their landlord’s.


How should business offices handle their e-waste? 

As we’ve mentioned in the previous section, small businesses with less than 50 full-time employees, and nonprofits with fewer than 75 employees, can apply for free electronics recycling offered by manufacturers. The Department of Environmental Conservation provides a list of registered electronic equipment manufacturers for the convenience of users and businesses. 

Companies that don’t pass the employee number requirement can take advantage of two basic options for their e-waste recycling: 

  • Donate the working e-devices (to schools or charities, for example)
  • Contact an e-waste management company & arrange a pickup service

To ensure the responsible recycling of electronic devices with hazardous elements, businesses should look for companies with R2 certification or such with e-steward standard certification. The NY State Department of Environmental Conservation keeps an up-to-date list of registered electronic waste recycling facilities

For any electronic devices that do not contain any hazardous elements as per the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, you can take care of the recycling yourself. 

Non-harmful e-devices can either be collected by a private waste management company or you can register your business as a self-hauler and remove it yourself. 

Apart from the legislative requirements, there is also an important recycling fact you should be aware of. 

That concerns the question of: 

How Much of the e-Waste Offices Produce Is Recyclable? 

In 2019, globally, 17,5% of e-Waste worldwide was recycled, and the rest ended up in landfills. In the United States alone, of the 13,1 million tons of e-waste generated in 2019, only 15% was recycled. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t clear indicators of how much of the e-waste produced in the States comes from businesses, but we can imagine that with the need for more electronic devices, comes a greater amount of e-waste. 

The tendency of e-waste to be left untreated is rising and with it, the concerns about the long-term effects of unrecycled e-devices. Experts are forecasting that the issue will only grow with the expansion of the latest technologies and the growth of the world’s population. 

What Is the Solution to a Growing e-Waste Problem? 

A shared vision (on how we should manage e-waste) among most recycling futurists is that of a circular economy. A model that circles products back into the economy, ensuring that no valuable resource is lost, or completely exhausted. 

You might be wondering if creating products that are 100% recyclable and can easily be returned to the production cycle are worth the investment. And you’ll be asking a valid question. 

Here’s the data. According to the United Nations, the current value of e-waste is over $62 billion per year. That’s $62.5 billion in value of the material alone. What happens with that value if e-waste is not recycled? It rots in our landfills. 

What the UN report says is that reusing resources from used electronics produces considerably less carbon-dioxide emissions than mining in the earth’s crust. The worth of e-waste is there, we only have to implement the right measures that help us harvest its potential. 

The Benefits of Circular Economy

In a circular economy, products are designed to serve us longer and when they reach the end of their usable life, they can be turned into valuable resources for the manufacture of new products. The ultimate goal? Materials are kept in use and reshaped over time, so no waste is produced. 

For the industries detailing with the production of e-devices that means that engineers should develop new strategies for designing new products that cover a few essential requirements like: 

  • Extended durability
  • Allowed upgradability
  • Ensured repairability
  • Guaranteed reusability

The IT industry, for example, could focus on building computer systems that can easily be taken apart and their vital components replaced. Instructions on repairs should also be more accessible and comprehensively explained. Another important feature such systems should have is the possibility of secure data deletion so the devices can be reused without any risk of data leakage. 

The effort to turn things around and become a more sustainable society with a better focus on long-term circular solutions is a matter of collective effort. The start, however, can be individual. 

Implementing company-wise e-waste policies that are aimed to preserve, upcycle and recycle as much of your office’s e-waste as possible gives you a competitive advantage and tells your customers that you’re invested in the sustainable well-being and future of our society. 

To Wrap Up

E-Waste — The Bain of Our Technological Society

Picture this, just in 2021the United States has generated over 50 million metric tons of e-waste. That’s not the total amount of waste, that’s just electronic waste. The amount of discarded computers, printers, home appliances, and medical devices that we throw out annually is equal to the weight of 350,000 Statues of Liberty. 

What’s even more concerning is that most of the e-waste and its upcycling potential is lost. Most of the electronic waste is either incinerated or placed in landfills, not only adding to the issue of depleting finite resources but causing pollution and hazards for our health. 

So let’s look at what e-waste is, how big of a problem it is, and what we can do to manage e-waste more effectively and sustainably. 

What Is e-Waste?

E-waste is the electronic product we discard after its useful life has ended (and occasionally when it’s not as modern as we desire). This waste category encompasses all possible electrically-charged appliances and devices, along with the peripheral and auxiliary equipment that help them run (computer mice, chargers, keyboards, etc.) 

E-waste is predominantly made of plastic and metal but also can include some heavy metal elements such as printed circuit boards, or others like refrigerants in fridges and air conditioners. Both the heavy metals and the cooling chemicals have significant harmful effects on the environment when not disposed of properly. 

More on that later. Let’s look at what other categories e-waste can fall under. 

Types of e-Waste 

In the United States, the governmental body that classifies, regulates, and aids businesses and private citizens with their e-waste disposal is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to EPA, electronic waste can be any of the following: 

  • Large household appliances

These can be, for example, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, and others.

  • Small household appliances

They can be microwaves, rice cookers, electric kettles, food processors and blenders, toaster ovens, vacuum cleaners, and more.

  • IT equipment, including monitors or Infocomm technology (ICT) equipment

These include laptops, tablets, desktop computers, mobile phones, printers, modems, monitors, keyboards, computer mice, docking stations, hard disk drives, batteries and chargers, and more.

  • Consumer electronics, including televisions
  • Lamps and luminaires
  • Toys
  • Tools 

Like drills, eclectic hammers, and other DIY or construction equipment

  • Medical devices
  • Monitoring and controlling instruments
  • Automatic dispensers

How Is e-Waste Affecting the Environment & the Economy?

There will be over 347 million tons of unrecycled e-waste, globally in 2022. E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream on the planet. Its harmful effects are very impactful due to our fast-paced technological development, the heightened market competitiveness, the affordability of various IT products and smart home appliances, and also the shortened lifespan of some electronic devices. 

The problem with e-waste is further exacerbated by the growth of the world population and the improved economic prosperity, that is reaching more people. All these factors drive the accumulation of e-waste upwards with unprecedented acceleration, urging us to look at the issue closely. 

What are the effects of the rapid growth of e-waste? 

Let’s look at what the data is showing. 

As reported by the Green Citizen a single computer screen contains somewhere between 5 and 8 pounds of lead. Currently, 40% of the lead found in our landfills comes from electronic devices. And that is just one type of e-waste element that contains heavy metal. 

With lead being one of the most harmful toxins for the human body, it’s frightening how much of it is left untreated or incinerated at garbage management sites, leading to leaks into our atmosphere, soil, and water resources. 

The contamination with heavy metals (and lead is just one of them) ends up poisoning our atmosphere, sea life, land flora, and fauna. We’re not only directly threatening the well-being of other life on the planet but contaminating our food and water sources. 

In addition to the serious health and environmental hazard, the lack of appropriate recycling processes for e-waste creates acute economic issues. 

Every electronic device simply laying in landfills is a waste of valuable resources. Many of our electronic devices contain scarce and precious metals that are needed for our continued technological development. 

As covered by the Guardian in 2019, e-waste contained copper, gold, silver, iron, and platinum, equivalent to $57 billion. Unfortunately, most of these metals were dumped or burned rather than recycled. 

Furthermore, the Globe and Mail, reports that the world’s precious metals e-waste recovery market will grow from $9.22 billion in 2021 to $9.61 billion in 2022. That’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.28%.

It’s abundantly clear that e-Waste poses a significant threat to our sustainable future and we need to actively engage in finding appropriate e-Waste management solutions that work in the long run. 

What Is E-waste Management?

E-waste management involves the processes of collecting, recovering, and recycling electronic equipment, devices, and appliances. Currently, in the United States, e-waste management practices involve domestic landfill dumping, international shipments of domestically produced e-waste, along with some recycling and reuse programs. The EPA estimates that in 2019, the United States disposed of roughly 7 million tons of e-waste. Only 15% of that waste was recycled. 

We need a complete change in the way we think about electronic devices that no longer serve us. Electronic devices are a valuable source of raw materials, most of which are hard to find and process. An outdated smartphone or computer can be the raw materials from which we produce new devices. 

Modern day e-waste management systems are heavily concerned with the safe methods of disposal of unfit units (their disassembly and destruction) as well as finding more sustainable methods of upcycling elements or entire constructions of electronic devices. And that makes e-Waste management a necessary discipline requiring a collective effort. 

Does e-Waste Get Recycled Actually?

Of the 13 million tons of e-waste produced last year in the USA, less than 2 million tons were recycled. It’s evident not enough of our discarded electronics are reused.

When done properly recycling can reduce the leakage of toxic materials into the environment and spare further spending on our depleting natural resources. The practice needs to be more widely adopted. 

But How Is E-Waste Recycled?

First, let’s look at some of the e-waste elements that can be recycled. There are several major e-waste recycling categories: 

  • Plastic
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Mercury
  • Circuit Boards (containing metals like gold; silver; copper; palladium; 
  • Hard Disk
  • Toner and Ink Cartridges 
  • Batteries 

Once collected by a waste management company, the e-waste devices are disassembled in a safe human environment and each element is either recycled or further transported to a recycling facility specializing in the appropriate recycling category. 

Where Is E-Waste Recycled? 

Plastic and metal (plastic and aluminum elements from hard disks, toner, and ink cartridges ) from the e-waste are recycled in regular recycling facilities since they don’t require further processing to make them safe to handle. 

Glass elements, most of which are extracted from computer monitors and TVs contain several hazardous substances that require their recycling to be performed in specialized facilities, ensuring these components are safely disassembled and treated so none of the dangerous heavy metals end up in the environment. 

E-waste elements that contain mercury are recycled in facilities with technology that can eliminate it safely and turn it into products like dental amalgams, fluorescent lighting, and metric instruments. 

The circuit boards are upcycled in facilities that specialize in smelting materials like 

gold, silver, palladium, copper, tin, and other valuable metals.

Batteries are probably the most complicated and time-consuming to recycle. They require specialized recycling that recovers the nickel, cobalt, cadmium, and steel they contain to be used again in new batteries. Leaving batteries to decompose at landfills is dangerous-they should always be discarded and recycled. 

Now that we’ve covered what e-Waste is and how it needs to be recycled, let’s look at some of the best e-Waste management practices that will offer a sustainable future for our out-of-date electronics. 

Best E-Waste Management Practices

There is a certain relief in knowing that every piece of garbage we produce has a continued life once we discard it, e-Waste included. But making sure no battery goes in the same bin as your food scraps starts with personal responsibility and grows into a collective conscientiousness. 

While we keep pushing for more effective e-Waste management practices, let’s look at what some of the ideas of sustainable e-Waste recovery are, and what we can personally do to decrease our harmful contribution. 

Old but Gold 

In a fast-consuming world, we often get lost in the latest trends and technologies, forgetting that our old smartphone or laptop is still very much functional. What you can do is delay upgrading your products for as long as possible. If it isn’t broken, don’t change it. Your small compromise will minimize e-waste and any further adverse effects on the planet. 

Run in Circles

While this saying usually has a negative connotation, here it can mean something good. When purchasing any new electronic devices you can make sure you choose these products that are designed to be repaired, upgraded, and refurbished- living multiple lives and enabling a more circular economy. 

Pass the Torch

A third option you can consider when replacing your e-devices is a donation. Instead of adding to the e-Waste problem you can consider selling, or passing on your old but working electronic appliance to someone who might find it useful. Pass the torch, and decrease your impact on the environment. 

Do the Research

Lastly, you should learn more about the recycling practice of your local municipality or district. You might be very diligent with separating and categorizing your recycling, but not knowing where it goes once it leaves your home or office makes your efforts fruitless. Investigate how and where the components of your e-devices are recycled, and whether that is done safely and responsibly. 

On a Closing Note

The fast development of technology and our consumption-driven society create an acute e-waste problem. Currently, we produce way-more electronic devices than we’re able to recycle. That, unfortunately, leads to the accumulation of vast amounts of e-waste left to decompose at landfills and threaten our entire ecosystem. 

Recycling e-devices is a serious concern we’ve briefed through in this article, hoping to raise more awareness and prompt you to be an active participant in finding a sustainable solution.


The Future of Waste Management: How Will We Turn Trash Into Treasure?

In the world of waste management, the future’s looking bright. We are starting to see a shift in the way we think about trash, and people are beginning to realize the value of waste. There is a lot of talk about turning trash into treasure and there are many ways we can do this. By 2025, the waste management industry is expected to change dramatically. 

In this blog post, we’ll learn what effect waste has on our health and economy; and how cutting the waste we produce will help the environment. We’ll also look at what social impact waste has on people, and what sustainable ways to manage our waste, we should explore. Most importantly, we’re going to discuss how we can turn garbage into valuable resources. 

Let’s dive right in!

How Big of an Issue Is Waste?

As the world becomes more populated, the amount of waste we produce is increasing at an alarming rate. In 2016, the world produced around 2 billion tons of waste. This number is expected to increase to 3 billion tons by 2025! 

The ever-growing global population is inevitably driving the increase in the waste we produce. Our capacity to handle and properly dispose of waste, however, is struggling to catch up. The current system of waste management is not adequate to sustainably manage the amount of waste we produce. The majority of our waste (roughly 140 million tons each year) ends up in landfills, polluting the soil, air, and water. 

Waste also has a deep social impact on people. It creates inequality, as around the world, the US included, people are struggling to get enough food daily. This creates a devastating paradox, where 1.3 billion tons of food a year are just thrown away, and yet, some people do not have enough of it on a daily basis. 

The social issue with waste is further exacerbated by the fact that wealthier countries export most of their waste to developing countries, leaving those with less to deal with the immediate environmental and health issues garbage creates. 

How Is Waste Affecting the Environment?

The environmental impact of waste is huge. It takes a lot of energy and resources to manage all this waste, and this harms the environment. Landfills are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and they also take up valuable land that could be used for other purposes.

Incinerating or burning waste is another way to get rid of it, but this also harms the environment. Burning waste releases harmful toxins into the air, which damages the ozone layer and disrupts the normal functioning of ecosystems, resulting in the depleting population of vital animal and plant species that play important roles in the balance of life. 

How Is Waste Affecting Our Health?

As the amount of waste we produce increases, so does the risk to our health. Waste can contain harmful chemicals and toxins that can cause serious health problems. 

The pollution caused by landfill and waste incineration has been linked to several health issues and serious illnesses like asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and birth defects. 

Furthermore, waste attracts vermin and insects that spread infections and diseases, adding to the list of issues trash and especially food waste creates for our health. 

How Is Waste Affecting the Economy?

Waste and its mishandling are also creating huge economical problems. The economical loss in food being thrown away is around a trillion dollars. Waste is a huge burden on the global economy. With each food item thrown away, we lose copious amounts of labor, energy, and land resources. All the effort in the production, distribution and consumption phases is lost as well.

The accumulation of solid waste is a ticking environmental bomb that is harmful to the environment and our health, and it also costs the economy billions of dollars every year. 

Future-Proof Ways to Resolve Waste Issues

There are many other sustainable practices that we can follow to manage our waste more sustainably. These include reducing our consumption, reusing materials, and repairing items instead of throwing them away. By following these sustainable practices, we can make a big difference in the amount of waste we produce and the impact it has on the environment.

Here are a few more ideas that experts say will help us re-think, re-shape, and transform the ways we handle trash in the future. 

1. Re-Imagining Production Cycles

The first thing we should all do when trying to find sustainable and future-proofed waste management processes is to look at the current system. Today our disposal model is primarily linear. We produce, we use and throw away. This method, however, creates an ever-growing problem that needs immediate addressing. 

We should change the way we look at waste, and try to incorporate circular models of production and consumption. Waste needs to be included in an economic system that brings a harmonious, never-ending cycle of production, use, and recycling. 

Waste we produce at home and in the office is a valuable commodity that can help us build a circular consumption model, where nothing goes to waste and no garbage contaminates our ocean, air, and ultimately our food. 

Investing in clean reprocessing technology, biodegradable packaging, and socially responsible food management practices on a local scale is a good way we can take hold of the impact we have on the environment and our health.

2. Investing in Waste-to-Energy Technologies

The global waste-to-energy market has grown tremendously over the past few years. It’s estimated that up to 300 million tons of garbage can be burned in energy plants and used for power generation. 

The thermal subsection of the waste-to-energy sector is expected to grow to revenue of $48M by 2028, creating a huge economic potential for those who decide to develop there. Turning our waste into a viable energy resource that helps us fight the constant accumulation of garbage at our landfills and incineration is one way that seems to be working well so far. 

The sector nevertheless has to see its transformation. A new business model that accounts for the negative effect of current waste-to-energy processes. Even if these incineration facilities cut significantly the greenhouse emissions produced by traditional fossil fuel energy generating plants (up to 95%), they still produce some amounts of harmful gasses. 

One way we can solve the emissions issue is by looking at other types of technologies that ensure a more sustainable cycle of energy production. Biological technologies could prove to be the breakthrough we need. 

Technologies like biodegradable feedstock, or using microorganisms to convert carbon-rich waste into biofuel via a gas fermentation technology are just two instances of how biotech can help us find more efficient and eco-friendly waste management solutions. 

A real-life example of biotech turning waste into resources is that of Novozymes, a Danish biotech firm, and their product – Eversa. Eversa is an enzyme-based solution that converts used cooking oil or other lower-grade oils into biodiesel. 

3. Ramping Up Recycling 

Recycling has been hyped up for years now. We all understand its importance and immense potential in cutting down waste going to landfills and oceans. 

But while materials like paper and metals used in electronics are relatively easy to recycle, complex plastics are not. The more sophisticated the plastics we use get the harder it is to break them down and re-use them. Specialty plastics like carbon fiber for instance are notoriously hard to recycle, requiring a lot of additional resources and ramped-up costs. 

Innovative technologies that sort through plastics and separate recycling materials quickly and efficiently are needed to get these often one-time-use plastics back into the production loop. Processes like robot sorting, x-ray, near-infra-red sorting, and laser-induced breakdown, might offer the answer to our growing plastic waste problem. 

Companies that complement the sorting and recycling processes are also important contributors to solving the low-rates recycling issue. Manufacturers like – Clariant, a global company that specializes in plastics colorants, that are easy to detect by sorting machines, for example, help increase recycling rates. 

To Sum It Up 

There is no doubt that waste management is a critical issue for our planet. The way we manage waste today will have a significant impact on the environment and human health in the future. If we want to turn trash into treasure, we need to start looking at waste management in a new way. 

Sustainability should be our main focus when setting policies and finding practical ways of turning waste into a renewable resource for industries. These future-proofed waste management practices should give us the basis on which to step when building a greener future for ourselves.

Organic Recycling 101 – What Is Biodegradable Waste & How to Properly Manage It

In New York City, organic waste recycling is becoming increasingly important as the population and the density of the city continues to grow. What is organic waste? Organic waste is any type of waste that can be broken down by microorganisms into simple, soluble compounds. This includes food scraps, yard trimmings, paper products, animal manure, and other biodegradable materials. 

This blog post will cover organic waste’s elements, how organic waste is recycled, and some easy ways to recycle food scraps in your office!

What Is Organic Waste Made Of?

Organic waste is made up of four main elements: carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Carbon is the element that helps organic matter decompose, while nitrogen is necessary for plant growth. Phosphorus and potassium are essential for plant nutrition. 

When these four elements are present in the right proportions, they create an ideal environment for microorganisms to break down organic matter.

What Types of Organic Waste Is There in the Office?

The most common types of organic waste in the office are food scraps, paper products, and if the office has a garden- yard trimmings. 

Food scraps can be any type of food that is no longer edible, including fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy products, and grains. 

Paper products include paper towels, napkins, coffee filters, and cardboard. 

Yard trimmings include grass, leaves, and branches.

What Is Organic Recycling & How Does It Work?

Organic recycling is the process of turning organic waste into a usable product, such as fertile soil that can be used to grow more food. The main culprits behind organic recycling are the microorganisms that break down the organic matter and release heat, which speeds up the decomposition process. 

Once the organic matter has broken down into compost, it can be used to improve soil structure and texture, increase water retention, and provide nutrients for plants.

How Should You Manage the Office Organic Recycling?

If your company operates in an office or other place where employees spend the majority of their day, you will have some organic waste to deal with. The best way to do so is to create a designated area in the office for organic waste. 

Setting up a waste system that includes a bin for organics only will help you deal with the formal gathering and later disposal of that type of waste without creating further issues like unpleasant smells and attracting vermin.

Besides simply discarding organic waste along with the other waste in your office, there are a few more, sustainable options you can consider. Here’s what you can do instead.

Organic Recycling Options

The first and probably most popular option is composting. 


Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter into nutrient-rich soil. Compost is an excellent fertilizer for gardens and lawns because it contains nutrients that plants need to grow. To make compost, organic waste is placed in a bin or pile and allowed to decompose. 

It can be on-site – or done in the office, or off-site – done in a facility that specializes in composting. 

If you’re wondering if your office can recycle biodegradable waste, you should know that on-site composting is a good option for any workplace that has enough space to store the compost, or has a garden it can use the compost in. 

Of course, the choice to compost in the office or not is up to you, as you can donate your compost to a gardening collective, for example, even if you have no use for it. 

However, you should be aware that composting does require some time and investment to be properly managed and not create further issues in the office.

To start with office composting you’ll simply need a composting bin and a few training sessions, to educate everyone on the benefits of composting and what types of food should go in the composting bin. 


Vermicomposting is the process of using worms to break down organic matter. This type of composting has many benefits. Worms help restore the soil’s nutrients, it stabilizes the soil and improves its fertility in the long run. 

Vermicomposting is a type of organic waste recycling that you can employ if you have a dedicated office recycling team, as it has a significant learning curve, and starting with it might need getting used to. 

But if you’ve committed to long-term green goals, like being part of a circular economy where all potential resources are fully incorporated into the sustainable management of your office waste, vermicomposting might be a good option. 

To start, we recommend you look for a specialist who can help in setting your vermicomposter and offer advice on how to properly maintain it. 

What Organic Waste Should You Avoid Composting?

There are some types of organic waste that you should avoid composting, such as meat and dairy products. 

These items can attract pests and create unpleasant odors. You should also avoid composting dead plants, as they can spread disease to other plants in the compost bin. 

If you’re not sure whether or not something should be composted, it’s always best to consult with a specialist and avoid spoiling the entire office compost. 

Why Is Organic Waste Recycling a Sustainable Practice?

Organic recycling is key to sustaining the ecological balance, preserving natural resources, conserving ecosystems, and promoting biological diversity. 

The less we waste the less garbage ends up in landfills, the oceans, and the soil, and the less we contaminate our food and water sources. The less food waste decomposes without proper treatment, the fewer greenhouse gasses manage to escape into our atmosphere and harm the ozone layer. 

Along with the immediate effects on our environment and health, organic waste is an excellent raw material for biofuel, offering an opportunity of creating a clean source of energy. 

The benefits of proper disposal and management of food waste can be summarized as follows. 

  1. Organic waste recycling helps us join a circular economy, closing the production, consumption, and recycling loops
  2. Organic waste recycling is good for the environment and our health, as it prevents food from simply decomposing in landfills and releasing greenhouse gasses 
  3. Organic waste recycling cuts expenses for the disposal of garbage. Company owners are required by law to dispose of waste as per set rules and organic recycling helps limit financial costs. 

What Are Some Companies that Implement Organic Recycling Practices?

Starting your organic recycling journey might seem like a daunting task, but following the example of brands that have already established good practices with recycling might give you ideas on how to better incorporate working recycling practices. 

Here are a few leaders who do it right. 

  • General Motors

In 2016, General Motors (GM) announced that 152 of its facilities are zero-waste. What does that mean? It means that these facilities produce no or almost no waste, converting all their waste into new products, resources, and energy. 

Here’s what GM does to decrease its impact on the environment. 

  • Every year GM reuses 2 million metric tons of byproducts, which generates $1 billion that are invested in the development of fuel-efficient vehicles and technologies 
  • Recently GM has converted recycled water bottles into engine cover insulations and air filters
  • The company manages to turn battery covers into wildlife habitat nest boxes
  • Google 

Google is another company that will get you inspired to start recycling your office waste, be it plastic, paper, or organic. They have also committed to going zero-waste and are implementing practices that will help them achieve that goal. 

Currently, 6 of their data centers have produced zero waste for landfills. Furthermore, 86% of the waste the company’s non-data global centers produce is recycled. 

Here are a few more facts about their recycling efforts

  • Google’s Atlanta data center supplies its cooling water from a reuse water system. This system utilizes recycled wastewater from a local sewage treatment plant
  • Google’s HQ has been designed with drought-resistant landscaping and recycled water for irrigation
  • The tech giant is partnering with Candela Renewables to produce 140 megawatts of solar power in Texas
  • Rice Products

You might be wondering if only the big industry leaders are capable of transforming the current waste management landscape? The short answer is “no”.

While brands like Google and GM can dedicate more resources to the cause of turning a linear economy into a circular one, small companies can also have a huge impact. 

Take Rice Products, for example. The Brooklyn-based startup uses spent grain from breweries in Brooklyn and Queens to create “super flour” that contains twice as much protein, one-third more crabs, and 12 times more fiber than regular flour. 

By upcycling the grain the company can: 

  • Rescue 42 million tons of spent grain a year, that would otherwise get discarded 
  • Offer a technology that can be explored for the recycling of other by-products like fruit skins and coffee

All these solutions offer an incredible opportunity for any company to explore the possibilities recycling and upcycling technology and practices can offer. 

Wrapping Up

New York City is a leader in organic waste recycling, and there are many ways to recycle your food waste. 

By composting your food waste, you can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money on fertilizer, and create nutrient-rich soil fertilizers for your garden. 

If you don’t have the time or space to compost, many companies will pick up your food waste and recycle it for you. 

There are a multitude of options when it comes to sustainable recycling practices that you can apply to your business. We hope this article gets you inspired to begin your sustainable journey, or add to the efforts you’re already investing in keeping it green.

Managing Food Scraps at The Office: 5 Clever Ways to Prevent Food Going to Waste

We have all done it. You bring lunch to the office, but then plans change, and instead, you go out for lunch with your colleagues, dooming your home-prepared meal to become another suspicious substance in the office fridge. 

Food waste is a serious problem. With greenhouse emissions produced by food waste threatening the health of the planet’s population, and about 821 million people globally living with less food they need daily, the consequences of wasting what food we’ve produced are real and devastating. 

Finding solutions to food waste even on the smallest scales can help alleviate part of the burden and prompt more to join in finding sustainable, kind, and thoughtful solutions to this issue.

So let’s look at how your business can turn into a place for positive change and in return help you reach more with the excellent work you do. First, some numbers. 

Food Waste Statistics

According to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), about 10% of global greenhouse emissions come from food waste. In a research conducted by the WWF and Tesco, approximately 1.2 billion tons of food is lost on farms, in addition to the 931 million tons of food waste retail and consumption sectors account for. 

That’s not it though. Food waste results in the loss of valuable resources, like water, land, energy, labor, and capital. Food losses cost us roughly $680B in industrialized countries and $310B in developing countries.

The Issues with Food Waste in the USA

1 in 6 people in the United States are food insecure or do not have enough affordable, nutritious food. It’s paradoxical, that at the same time, between 30% and 40% of the food produced in the States is thrown away. 

All the resources we invest in producing our food seem wasted. In the U.S., it takes about 1000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. Calculations show that up to 25% of the water we use in agriculture goes to waste. Add the fossil fuel used by farmers for operating equipment and there you have an exacerbated environmental issue. 

Food trash also has a significant financial impact. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that in the US we lose about $161B in food waste annually. The estimation includes the price of food, costs of labor, land, water, and all other resources involved in food production. 

Lastly, food trash influences us socially. The lack of proper nutrition is an issue that affects people not only in developing countries but here in the United States. Food scarcity raises vital questions on sustainable food production and distribution that we all as global citizens should be aware of, and contribute to.

How Can Offices Reduce Food Waste?

As a company owner, you and your team are in a great position to raise awareness of the food waste issues and apply practical solutions toward limiting waste from going to waste. 

You can set up educational programs, and recycling policies, you can take part in community recycling programs, organize industry events to look for new ideas and share knowledge on the subject, and of course promote the issue on social media. These tools will help you, your employees, and the industry community to reduce waste. 

The first place where you can start your sustainable food scrap management is the office. Here are a few ideas on how you can reduce food waste at the workplace. 

5 Ways to Deal with Food Scraps in the Office

When you start with food waste management it’s important to remember that like every company policy it takes time to set proper food scrap management. It’s important to be proactive, this will help to keep the office clean, conscious, and free of pests.

1. Evaluating Current Food Waste Management Practices 

The first thing you should do on your zero-food scrap journey is, evaluate your current situation. Look at when and where food waste accumulates, what is your organization currently doing about it, what can be done to improve food waste management, and what sustainability goals you want to pursue. 

Once you know where your company stands, you can begin creating a plan that will help you break down these goals into actionable steps toward zero-waste food management.

2. Raising Awareness on Issues Around Food Waste

Awareness is essential to your sustainable food scrap management plan. To be successful on the set goals you need to have the support of your staff. People should understand and willingly commit to cutting the food waste in the office. 

To make sure, however, that everyone is aware of the collective goals you need to put the time and effort to educate and win the support of employees. 

Raising awareness of the fact that about 40% of the food supply in the United States goes to waste, for example, might influence people’s choices in the office. They might consider more carefully what happens with their leftovers if they just get thrown away in the garbage bin. 

3. Growing Food from Scraps

Simply throwing food scraps in the trash is definitely a slippery slope that not only creates a smelly mess but can attract pests. There’s, however, a much better way to get rid of food waste and that’s composting. 

Composting is not only a cleaner way to deal with food scraps like egg shells, veggie and fruit peels, and other organic food scraps, but is a full-circle solution to the problem of food waste. Through composting, you create fertile soil that can be used for growing more organic food. 

How do you compost in the office? 

There are two most common practices for office composting. You can either set up a compost bin in the office or work with a local composting company. 

Composting can be one of your office recycling educational pillars. Helping people learn the answers to questions like “ What food scraps can be composted?” and “What to do with food scraps that can’t be turned into compost?” might urge them to try composting at home too. 

4. Using Food Efficiently

There are plenty of ways to efficiently use food in the office. If your company has a cafeteria and serves food to employees then you might want to consider

  • Cutting portions

One way to reduce food waste is to offer smaller portion sizes. This can be done by providing smaller plates or offering a lunch buffet where employees can choose their portion sizes.

  • Leftovers Turned Meals

Another way cafeterias can solve food waste issues is by incorporating leftovers into more meals. For instance, your chiefs can create new menus around unused ingredients left from previous meals. 

They can even stress your food waste sustainability goals more by creating catchy and thought-provoking names for those meals. Words like “rescued veggie wrap”; “sustainable turkey sandwich” work great at pointing attention to what “food has to say”. 

  • Lunch & Dinner

One more way to reduce food waste in the office is to encourage employees to take leftovers home. This can be done by providing storage containers or offering discounts on meals after a certain hour. 

On Fridays, you can organize a kitchen clearance type of event where you either gift food or offer it at a big discount. This will stimulate people to help with using as much of the food ingredients you have left in the office. You can even further offer that food with recipe suggestions, so people wouldn’t have to wonder what to use it in. 

  • Food Banks

If your resources for dealing with leftover food in the office are limited, you can think of donating whatever you have left to a local food bank or soup kitchen. This is a great way to help those in need and reduce food waste at the same time. 

  • Successfully Implementing a Zero-Waste Food Policy

Organizing a team-leading the switch to a sustainable food system disposal in your office will guarantee that vigilant eyes are always looking if waste is properly taken care of. 

This team will be tasked with disseminating educational information on what happens with our food in the States, how it affects the environment, and the well-being of countless ecosystems and people in vulnerable areas. 

Your food waste team can also lead the set of processes of conscientious food disposal and teach others in the office how to follow suit. 

But what will incentivize people most is creating a reward system for everyone willing to participate in the collective effort of decreasing food waste in the office. 

Make sure that people get praised for their sustainable undertakings, welcome their ideas on improving the processes, and stimulate their continued participation by offering extra time off, bonuses, and other incentives that you can allow for. 

Further organizing brainstorming sessions, team building outings center around sustainable food management, and special shoutouts to those who are extra achievers will help you cement the support of your office team. 

Sustainability is an investment but it pays off multifold. Your sincere dedication to such an impactful environmental cause will create trust and brand ambassadors within and out of your company. 

On a Closing Note 

What is the best way to deal with leftover food? Use it again. Wasting perfectly good produce and leftover meals have gotten us into huge environmental, social, and economical troubles, and the sooner we find sustainable and safe solutions to this ever growing problem, the better. 

It’s the time to deal with food waste and the place you can start tackling the issue is in the office. 

It starts with the small steps of being mindful of the food your company offers to employees and continues with the education of as many people in and out of your organization as possible on how they can individually contribute to lessening the food waste burden. 

Show your social engagement and people will appreciate your brand for more than the products or services you offer.

What Happens to New York’s Office Waste? The Journey of Trash

What happens to that piece of paper you throw away in your office garbage bin? Where does all the waste that is being produced by New York businesses go? 

These are interesting questions that we should ask ourselves, especially when living or working in the most populated city in the United States. New York alone produces over 14 million tons of waste every year that has to go somewhere. So let’s “dumpster dive” into one of the pressing topics of modern life and see what the journey of office trash is, and how it affects our city lives. 

But first…

What Types of Waste Does New York Generate?

There are 8.4 million people in New York and we all produce trash on a daily basis. The city has divided its garbage into two main categories – general waste and recyclables. Recyclables fall into several sub-categories:

  • Paper
  • Metal
  • Glass 
  • Plastic
  • Electronics
  • Compost

Metal, glass, and plastic are collected together to ease trash gathering and later sorted in a recycling facility.

Who Takes Care of New York’s Trash?

Recycling has been part of the city waste management policy since the late 1980s when curbside recycling became mandatory. The NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) – the largest waste management department in the world – is tasked with the management of garbage in New York. The agency is responsible for collecting, recycling, and disposing of the trash in the city. 

The DSNY, however, takes care only of residential, institutional, and non-profit organizations’ waste. Commercial and industrial sites have the legal obligation to organize the disposal of their waste as the regulations require. 

How Do Businesses Manage Waste Disposal? 

That means that each business has to either obtain a “Self-Hauler” permit from the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) and transport their garbage in a vehicle with commercial license plates. Alternatively, they can look for waste management services on their own and partner with a trash & recycling management business, to help them take care of the waste, including in their offices. 

Having to take care of your company’s trash on your own is cumbersome and involves far more resource allocation than contracting a waste management company. That’s why most businesses prefer outsourcing their trash disposal and recycling, to a specialist in that industry. 

What Is the Journey of the Office Trash?

The first stop for most office trash is the garbage can. From there, it is collected by a garbage truck and taken to a landfill. Landfills are large sites where trash is dumped and then covered with dirt. The garbage is typically compacted at a landfill, which helps to reduce its volume.

Once the trash is in the landfill, it will decompose over time. Decomposition is a natural process that breaks down organic matter. The process is slow, however, and can take years or even decades for some materials to decompose completely.

Eventually, the office trash will become part of the landfill itself. Landfills are designed to be stable, so the trash will not leach out and contaminate the surrounding environment. However, landfills can release greenhouse gasses as the trash decomposes, so they are not ideal long-term solutions for office waste.

Ethical Ways to Dispose of Office Waste 

When it comes to office waste disposal, there are a few things to keep in mind. 


First, paper should be recycled. This is one waste category that is relatively easy to recycle and businesses should try their best to ensure that their paper and cardboard waste is cycled back into use. Dedicating a recycling bin for each desk will help people remember that they should make sure their paper waste is properly disposed of. 


The second major waste category that office managers and waste disposal managers should focus on finding sustainable solutions for is plastics. A great number of used office supplies and kitchen silverware are non-recyclable plastics. Ensuring you have a plastic waste station or bin that is visible to everyone will prompt office workers to sort their waste as per the company’s policy. 


Third, office equipment such as computers, printers, and fax machines should be donated or recycled when possible. The need of recycling electronics is especially important since they’re built with the use of valuable and depleting natural resources. Some of those materials are even dangerous for our health when not disposed of properly. 

These materials not only add up to the growing landfill issues but take over 700 years to decompose, and easily end up in water resources, where they disturb aquatic life, form gigantic plastic islands, and eventually end up in our food. 


Food scraps are another waste category that anyone looking to lessen their impact on the environment should consider, offices included. A company looking to include more sustainable solutions in their processes could consider creating a composting setup, where food waste can turn into compost. 

Organic waste similar to paper is relatively easy to re-introduce back in our supply and demand cycles, and it’s actually often referred to as “black gold” among gardeners. Compost helps vitalize depleting urban soils, so by turning your organic office waste into fruitful compost you can contribute to a growing environmental issue. 

Not to mention turning waste into resources can feel empowering and can give employees an additional boost of confidence that they’re part of a positive change. 



Finally, office furniture. If you’re planning to change your office furniture you can consider refurbishing it first. This is one way to reduce waste and give a fresh new look to your old office equipment. Or you can consider donating your old office chairs and desks to other organizations that might need them. And lastly, you can seek options to recycle as much of the office furniture as possible, to decrease the chance of it ending up in landfills. 

By following these simple guidelines, office waste can be effectively managed.

Why Should Businesses Recycle Their Garbage?

As more and more businesses aim to operate sustainably, recycling in the office has become increasingly important. Not only does recycling help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, but it can also save businesses money on waste disposal costs. In addition, recycling can help improve the reputation of a business, as it shows that the company is committed to reducing its environmental impact.

There are several easy ways to encourage recycling in the office. By introducing a recycling policy that stipulates that all employees must recycle, businesses could make the first step to operating more environmentally friendly and cost-efficiently. 

These small steps make a big difference to the amount of waste they send to landfills each year. Reducing the use of resources, reusing whenever possible, recycling, and composting hold great benefits among which are: 

  • Reducing pollution reduction
  • Preserving energy
  • Conserving natural resources
  • Promoting ethical environmental consciousness among the wider public

Wrapping Up

We all know the feeling of tossing something in the trashcan and watching it disappear. But have you ever wondered what happens to your trash after it leaves your hands? The journey of the office trash is long and complicated. Still, most of our trash ends up in landfills and creates a number of issues. 

The journey of our trash is a journey that we as a society should be more involved in and do our best to make the most of the resources we have, so they don’t end up harming the environment, eco-systems, and consequently us. Starting a sustainable office waste policy is one good place to begin a more sustainable way of disposing of our garbage.

Top 5 Recycling Tips for Your Workplace

Have you ever wondered how many items in your office are made from plastic? From the printer cartridges to computer keyboards and single-use cutlery – this material is all around your place of work. And that’s not all of it. Offices are furnished and equipped with products created from valuable resources like paper and metals. Add to those the electronics without which your job would be impossible and you end up with a place abundant with products that when not disposed of properly, create a hazard to our ecosystems. 

What Happens to Used Office Supplies and Equipment? 

What happens to all office materials and equipment that are no longer needed or used? In the best-case scenario, they’re recycled. In the worst? They end up in landfills and in our oceans, polluting the environment and threatening our own health. 

Recycling in the office is an important topic that requires careful consideration and action. If you’re an employer looking to create a more sustainable and future-proofed business, or just an eco-minded individual looking to lessen their impact on the environment in all ways possible, these tips will help you out. 

Let’s dive right in.

1. Set Your Recycling Goals

The first thing to kick start your office recycling journey is of course to set your goals. It might be overwhelming to establish exactly what you’re trying to achieve so a waste audit might help you clear that out. 

Begin by analyzing what kinds of waste your office currently produces – categorizing each type of waste – paper, plastic, chemicals (e.g. toners in cartridges), electronics, and so on. Take a period of time as a benchmark and measure the amount of waste your office generates. Once you have that data, you’ll know where you need to focus your recycling efforts and what goals you target, and what actions you need to take first.

2. Create Recycling Policies & Offer Staff Training

Start small. If you’ve never implemented any recycling policies in your company before you’ll need time to figure everything out, so set realistic goals and work from there. You can start by focusing on a particular recyclable material each month. For example, you can organize a plastic-free month, providing information and alternative products to encourage people in the office to learn why they should reduce the use of the material. 

You should also provide recycling bins and get in touch with a reliable waste management company that will help you with the transportation and recycling of the materials. Offering regular training on the importance of recycling and the impact human activities have on the environment will help you with your green-office goals. So would sharing weekly, monthly, or yearly recycling targets and if you’ve been able to achieve them.

A good idea would be to create a “green team” that helps you coordinate the recycling education and boost office recycling programs. 

3. Organize Recycling & Resource-Saving Stations

Systemizing your recycling stations will help you make recycling easy. For example, you can set your recycling next to your office cafeteria, exits, and rinse stations, so employees can clean up reusable lunch boxes, or throw their paper, plastics, and glass directly in the recycling bins. 

Recycling stations can also be used for other materials, like paper, small office supplies, and electronics. Those will remind staff that instead of throwing small stationery items like pens, highlighters, staplers, etc., they can recycle them. You can also assign a small recycling bin for each working space to help people get in the habit of recycling. 

Additionally, you can replace big jugs of mineral water with a water filtering system. You’ll not only offset the pollution created during the transportation of the jugs but save on cost and storage space.

4. Set Reminders & Notifications

Once you’ve set your recycling goals and policies, set your recycling stations, and organized appropriate training for your employees, you should be ready to start your office recycling journey. 

Sending out notifications and weekly, or monthly reminders will aid your recycling efforts. Share all related information on what this month’s goals are, and how far ahead you are in achieving the targets. Encourage people to participate, and ask for feedback. A quick company survey can give you some insights into what people think about your recycling efforts and where they can be improved. Your recycling bins may be at a very convenient place, or the processes around the recycling may be confusing and require more clarification.

5. Incentivize Recycling Reaching Goals

To be able to achieve office-wise recycling goals you’ll need the cooperation of everyone in your company. Showcasing your recycling goals and how close you are to achieving them might prompt employees to participate in reaching them, especially, when you measure everyone’s contribution. People are competitive in nature, so you might as well use it for the good of the planet. 

You can also set a rewarding system, to further incentivize employees’ participation in the company’s recycling program. Turn your recycling into a fun challenge and reward the weekly winner with a shorter working day, for example. 

To Wrap Up

Recycling is an amazing opportunity to help limit our carbon footprint and offset some of the harmful effects human activities have on the environment, including those in the office. More and more businesses are realizing that environmental issues are not something they can overlook, but rather incorporate solutions like recycling, to create sustainable places of work. 

If you too are looking to transform your business and be part of a positive change in the world, recycling is a good place to start. These 5 steps will help you transform your office and company culture. They’ll help you contribute to creating a sustainable place of work for the future and help you be a positive example for others.

Sustainability & Waste Management | The Future of Trash

The development of our modern world comes with its many comforts. We build, produce and create products and services our ancestors couldn’t have even imagined, yet our progress comes at a cost. The price we have to pay is measured in the waste our industrial processes and everyday consumption produce. 

Waste management is a critical issue in the global economy, one that we’re still struggling to handle responsibly. The future of our planet and future generations lies in our hands. Sustainable waste management is a pressing issue we have to resolve as soon as possible. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at how we as a global society are preparing for the future of trash. But first, let’s start with the foundations. 

What Is Waste Management?


Waste management is the collection, transportation, and disposal of garbage, sewage, and other waste products. It involves the treatment of solid and liquid waste. It’s in the treatment phase that part of our trash can be recycled. The statistics on recycling, however, show that just a tiny fraction of the waste we produce is recycled. For example, only 5% to 6% of post-consumer plastics have been recycled in 2021.

How Much Waste Do We Produce?

The world generates more than 2 billion tons of waste per year. In another 28 years, the amount of waste is estimated to grow to 3.4 billion tons, an increase that needs addressing. Intertwining our economic systems into one harmonious recycling and reusing society, however, isn’t an easy task. Even more so, when the expected rise of world economies and population growth in lower to middle-income countries will affect the production and management of waste. 

By 2050, in the regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the total waste generation is expected to triple, accounting for 35% of the world’s waste. This will exacerbate the problem created by big consumer countries like the US, where each person produces almost 1800 lbs of waste annually. Looking for sustainable ways to manage our waste is a pressing challenge that we should take seriously. 

What Is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the practice of responsible consumption of natural resources so we prevent their depletion. It looks at methods of maintaining the ecological balance. In business terms, sustainability is reflected through the manufacturing of goods and services that do not damage the environment and in the best case can be returned back into the production cycle.

What is Sustainable Waste Management?

Sustainable waste management relates to the collection, transportation, and disposal of waste in ways that the environment is not jeopardized. The idea of sustainable waste management boils down to re-using trash as an essential resource, vital for households and businesses. 

Sustainable waste management is tasked with decreasing the use of precious natural resources – a massive undertaking that aims to focus our efforts on reusing responsibly what we’ve already manufactured. As part of the circular economy concept, a well-designed sustainable waste management system incorporates feedback loops, focuses on processes, and adaptability, and successfully diverts waste from dumping grounds. 

Sustainable waste management besides being good for the environment provides opportunities and benefits to society and the global economy. Responsible waste management can create jobs, and lessen the harmful impact of human activities hence, improving the air and water quality. Additionally, it decreases food wastage and lowers environmental costs. 

Legislative systems around the globe are already taking proper steps toward creating regulations that encourage businesses and people to reduce their waste, and take advantage of alternative energy sources, so together we can meet our growing demands in a sustainable way. Developing technologies offer practical solutions that can help us bring our waste into the future. 

One such technology is Waste to Energy (WTE). The idea of WTE is partially pushed by the rapid depletion of conventional energy sources but is also a solution to the increasing implementation of environmental policies, like the need to reduce carbon emissions.

Waste to Energy (WTE) Technology

Waste to Energy technology addresses processes that create energy like electricity, transport fuels, or heat from waste. There are several types of WTE. New resources can be generated from semi-solid waste (like sludge), liquid waste (like domestic sewage), and gaseous waste (like refinery gas).

Waste to energy is most commonly applied to the processing of municipal solid waste, where incinerating the trash collected by businesses and households produces heat and power in CHP plants. It’s an alternative that helps lower harmful emissions from landfills and it also recovers important and limited metals through recycling. 

Although current WTE technologies help us offset some of the impacts our waste has on the environment, there is still work to be done for us to transition to a fully sustainable waste management future. Here are a few ideas that will help us move forward. 

Smart Waste Management 

It all comes down to adjusting our processes and lives to a more conscientious manufacturing and consumerism. Two tasks that are easy in theory but far more complicated in practice.

Nonetheless, there are a few smart waste management solutions that might help us get there. 

Prioritizing Sustainable Materials 

Recycling is one way to reduce our carbon footprint, but it’s a process that also requires the consumption of energy instead of trying to figure out how we can responsibly recycle single-use plastics and other single-use materials. For example, we can start investing our time in learning about sustainable materials and manufacturing processes that help us make greener choices. Turning biodegradable single-use cutlery into compost that nurtures the land and helps us grow more food is a great alternative. 

Planning, Planning, Planning

Planning for waste management is probably not the most fun, as it calls for our concentrated effort to organize when and how to dispose of our trash. But it is an essential and repetitive task that should follow the entire process of returning what we’ve used back into the production cycle. This is a step that’s especially important to business owners who are fully dedicated to transforming their manufacturing methods and helping their consumers in the process. 

Strategic planning will help you offer sustainable improvements to local waste management practices and adjust to the ever-changing waste and recovered materials markets. In addition, brands that show their engagement with such an important issue are far more likely to not only keep but grow their client base. 

Public and Business Working Together 

Significant social changes are hard, and they can rarely be achieved single-handedly. Collaboration is key to every major decision that drives our development and sustainable waste management is not an exception. 

One approach that can help us achieve more in the field of responsible trash management is the Public-Private Partnerships for Service Delivery (PPPSD). PPPSD promotes self-supporting partnerships between different businesses and local governments. It’s a tool that regulators can use to employ private businesses in infrastructural and other services linked to the sustainable management of waste. This way our governments can benefit from the expertise and innovation of the private sector to deal with a growing issue, while at the same time offering opportunities to businesses to advance, and facilitate economic growth. 

There are multiple additional benefits of such a type of collaboration like the minimized adverse effects of waste in lower-income communities; the sustainable improvement of waste management; and not least of all, the improved livelihood of people involved in the sustainable waste management processes. 

Wrapping Up

“Waste not, want not. “

This proverb shows that people have long understood the importance of preserving and carefully spending the resources we have. Extravagant and careless use of public commodities with no regard for how to restore or conserve assets should no longer be an option. It’s time we start implementing practical solutions to a growing global issue that is affecting the environment and our own health. It’s time to reduce and reuse, it’s time for the future of trash.

Waste Management 101 for New York City

On a yearly basis, New York City produces nearly 15 million tons of waste. And while some of that amount is transported to landfills (in and outside the city), a large portion of it is spread throughout the streets and waterways due to poor waste management. 

The first reason for that is that NYC is one of the most polluted cities in the world, so collecting the garbage is a logistical nightmare for both the city government and the private waste haulers. 

In addition, the lack of legislation ban on disposal items has led to the excessive usage of plastic ones (nearly 18 000 tons of single-use plastics are wasted every year). Even with the ongoing programs initiated by the government to stimulate the residents to recycle and compost, the City is still very polluted. 

When Did it All Start?

In the 19th century, New York faced a crisis: limited land territory and constantly growing population. With more residents came more waste that needed to be disposed of. 

At first, people used to fill water lots with garbage in order to create more land for new buildings and residential homes. But very soon the expansion of the land started to disturb the routes of the passing ships. So, the next “brilliant” idea was to throw the garbage directly into the ocean which also became problematic due to water pollution. 

One century later, waste incineration became very popular, yet the process was quite expensive, so it was quickly replaced by landfills. Once again, the solution didn’t stick for too long as NY residents were concerned about their health and the environment. 

From 1995 onward New York began to export its waste to several other states in an attempt to please everybody. Unfortunately, the population in the city continued to grow and this method for waste disposal could not catch up with a large amount of produced garbage and the lack of legislation regulations. 

How Does it Look Today?

Nowadays, waste management in New York is divided into a public and private system. The public system covers the majority of the produced trash – residential and institutional garbage. It is then collected by DSNY (New York Department of Sanitation) – the world’s largest sanitation department. The private system is held by licensed companies offering waste removal services. 

The Public System 

In 2016, DSNY initiated its first Strategic Plan which builds on the Department’s 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan for exporting waste by rail and barge. The Strategic Plan has a set of ambitious long-term goals and initiatives to improve New York’s waste management. 

One way the Department attempts to diminish the waste in NYC is by advocating for reduction, reuse, and recycling on a regular basis, as New Yorkers are throwing out more than 10,000 tons of trash every day. The good news is that DSNY collects over 2,000 tons of recyclable waste per day, yet it’s still not a satisfying number. 

Since, one-third of the city’s waste is mainly food scraps, the Sanitation Department recommends that people start composting. In addition, there are curbside collection services available for the residents when they want to get rid of items harmful to the environment like household and automotive products, and electronics.

In 2019, the SWMP managed to switch to marine and rail transfer stations which led to the reduction of truck traffic by 60 million miles per year and greenhouse gas emissions by 34,000 tons per year. 

How is The Waste Collected And Disposed Of?

What DSNY collects is divided into several categories: trash (for non-recyclable items), recyclable items (paper, metal, glass, and plastics), food scraps, yard waste (including composts), harmful products, and electronics. In addition, the Sanitation Department offers the residents the option to donate their goods to be reused for those in need. 

Once the waste is collected, it is usually transported to landfills and incinerators outside the city. This method might be freeing space in New York and pleasing its citizens but is creating environmental problems in the states where it’s disposed of. 

The Private System

As for the commercial waste, the government doesn’t collect it, so businesses in New York have to arrange themselves on how to manage both their garbage and recyclables. 

For each business owner in NYC, there are two options available: to apply for permission and haul their own garbage (which requires time and effort apart from their business) OR to hire a private and experienced waste removal company to do it instead. 

In the past, waste haulers were related to the mob. Especially in New York and Chicago, mobsters started their own companies for waste removal or acquired existing businesses (via violence, for example) in order to exercise monopoly in the city and beat the competition. 

Within time, the garbage mobsters were slowly replaced by big corporate companies offering garbage collection and recycling services. In addition, the NYC government created the Business Integrity Commission which controls and authorizes licensed carters and self-haulers to work on the territory of the city.

We are proud to be part of BIC’s list for nearly 20 years now. Metropolitan Recycling is one of the largest private waste removal companies in New York which offers a variety of collection and disposal services. 

Whether you are looking for waste removal, recycling, or organic recycling services, we have plenty of options to fit your needs and your budget. Apart from the non-hazardous solid waste, we collect plastic containers, glass containers, paper and cardboard products, and metal (tin, aluminum, steel) cans.

We are constantly investing in new recycling technologies like BIO-EZ – a food waste disposal system that transforms organic waste into nutrient-rich water by breaking down food scraps and even light paper items. 

Our mission is to facilitate our clients in their waste management while minimizing the environmental impact on our planet.


10 Ways to Reduce Waste at the Office

The digitization of office work, combined with the switch to remote work, pushed by the global pandemic, has no doubt influenced the amount of waste that businesses accumulate.

This, however, hasn’t resolved the issue of companies having to deal with the waste they produce. EPA- the United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that on average, an office worker generates approximately 2 pounds of paper and paperboard waste a day. Moreover, half of all printed documents are thrown away within 24 hours. 

And that’s not all, paper and paperboards are just one of the waste types people in offices accumulate. 

So to understand where and how you can cut the waste your company produces, let’s take a more detailed look at the type of waste your office might be amassing. 

Types of Waste Generated at the Office 

Let’s begin by saying cutting waste in any area of our lives, including the office, helps us keep our environment clean, our resources intact for years to come, and garbage out of the dumpster sites. 

As businesses have a greater impact on society they have the added responsibility of being a good example when it comes to waste management. Plus, reducing the waste in offices helps companies cut costs, and can become the social issue brands stand behind.

So here are the types of waste a company has to consider when trying to reduce their waste.

Mixed Paper 

This category gathers all the miscellaneous paper waste like discarded mail, paperboards, boxes, delivery packages, magazines, catalogs, and all other paper waste that doesn’t fall into an individual category. Mixed paper waste totals about 70% of the entire waste generated in an office. 

Food Scraps

Every year, in the United States, roughly 108 billion pounds of food is thrown away. That’s 130 billion meals and over $408 billion in food waste. Food waste is the second-largest waste category that occupies national landfill space. 


Among plastic packaging, plastic bottles, bags, and packaging, an office can accumulate overwhelming amounts of food. The average American uses 156 plastic bottles a year. Collectively we’re throwing away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. 

While convenient, the majority of plastics are constructed from PET and HDPE plastics, and their recycling rates average at 29.1% and 29.3%, respectively. 

General Waste

The EPA estimates that on average a person creates 4.4 pounds of solid waste each day, including general waste materials like coffee cups, styrofoam plates, and thin, film-like plastics.

These are among the most commonly found in an office and sadly cannot be recycled. 


E-waste is the fastest-growing domestic waste stream in the U.S. 

The average person generated about 46 pounds of e-waste in 2019, which totaled at 

6.92 million tons of e-waste in just one year. Of these almost 7 million tons only 15% were recycled. 

Offices are rife with electronic devices like computers, monitors, printers, and even company smartphones, all adding up to the list of outdated, broken, and obsolete equipment that needs to be replaced at some point. 

The proper disposal of outdated or broken electronic devices is extremely important not only because they are harmful to the environment, but also contain vital and recyclable materials like copper, aluminum, and semiconductor chips. Simply throwing away these devices is equivalent to throwing away billions of dollars. 

Now that we’ve covered the main waste categories in the office, let’s look at how you can address its proper disposal. 

10 Easy Ways to Cut Waste in the Office 

Here’s how your office can step into the future and cut its harmful effect on the environment. 

1. Cut the Paper

Paper waste is the easiest to recycle. In fact, it can be reused 5 to 7 times before it degrades. And while that’s good news, recycling requires a lot of additional resources, so cutting the use of paper is the best way to save resources and costs in recycling services. 

To cut the use of the paper you can start implementing new policies around urging people to cut the use of paper, print double-sided, or only make copies and prints when necessary. 

Online collaboration tools like Google Docs will also help your efforts in cutting the use of paper or even going entirely paperless. 

2. Set A Paper Recycling Station

If, however, going entirely paperless is not an option for your business you can set recycling stations and encourage people to actively participate in recycling paper from the office. 

A few introductory meetings, educational sessions, and small prices will help you spread the idea and stimulate employees to participate in your recycling efforts. Placing the recycling bins close to office stations will also help. 

3. Switch to Reusable Office Supplies 

Changing to eco-friendly options for your office supplies will help you further your waste-decreasing goals. 

For example, you can switch to refillable ink cartridges and change printer settings to eco-friendly or ink-saving options. You can choose pens, pencils, and other office supplies that are either biodegradable or refillable, so you can use them longer or completely recycle them once no longer in use. 

4. Create An Electronics Recycling Center

We’ve mentioned that electronics make up a considerable amount of office waste. You can offset your impact on the environment by organizing the recycling process of electronics no longer in use. Set a space in your office where electronics can be stored while waiting for pick up. 

Some manufacturers offer collecting services for electronics your business no longer needs. This eases the process of recycling, especially when given that multiple states have legal requirements on the proper disposal of electronic devices. 

Another option is to organize the collection of your off-service electronics through a waste management company that would pick them up periodically. 

5. Switch to Biodegradable/ Re-usable Dishes & Silverware

Biodegradable cutlery options will help you reduce the use of all the harmful and wasteful styrofoam cups, plates, and flimsy plastic utensils, flooding offices around the country. 

Purchase dishes that are either made of materials that are easy to recycle or invest in quality dishware, cutlery, and cups for your office, that will last you longer and create a more welcoming atmosphere. 

6. Gift Reusable Water Bottles to Employees & Guests

As part of your plastic-free office policy, you can offer your employees a reusable bottle to use around the office. Choose durable materials, aluminum or glass water bottles, that can easily be re-used. 

You can even take advantage of the opportunity to turn this small gift into a promotional item for your brand, by printing your company’s logo on the bottles. 

7. Offer Filtered Water

Setting up a filtered water system in your office will add to your efforts in reducing the use of plastic water bottles in the office. 

You have a wide range of options to choose from depending on your budget. You can install a filtered water tap or keep a large water filtering pitcher in shared spaces, so it’s easily available to employees.

8. Compost 

Set up a composting plan to recycle food scraps accumulated in the office. Food that can be composted includes coffee grounds, food scraps, and fruit peels. Among the compostable items in the office are also vegetable trimmings, flowers, plants, and non-treated cardboard. 

You can even create a company’s activities around learning how to compose and helping city vegetable gardens by donating the compost you manage to create. 

9. Buy In Bulk 

Another way you cut additional non-recyclable packaging and delivery waste, is by buying in bulk. Coffee beans for starters are a great alternative to individually packed k-coffee cups. Add a coffee grinder and a coffee machine to complete your coffee station set and create a place where you and your employees can enjoy work breaks. 

You can bulk purchase other items like sugar, creamers, snacks, and cleaning supplies. You can go even step further by replacing some of the office cleaning supplies with biodegradable and environmentally friendly ones. 

10. Partner with Waste Management Company

Recycling is a complicated topic that requires a lot of time. If you don’t have the time and staff to direct into re-imagining how your business takes care of its waste, you can always partner with a waste management company. Such an organization will help you educate your employees, organize the recycling and waste management process and dispose of the garbage properly. 

To Wrap Up 

Going green is the future. Recycling is not only an individual responsibility, but an organizational one, that has to be addressed by people and companies together. Sustainable business practices include adapting waste reducing and recycling processes, so if you haven’t already considered the option, now is the time. 

But reducing waste is not something that should be viewed as a burden. Yes, decreasing your office waste and implementing recycling practices takes time, but in the long run, they can save you financial costs. Most importantly, they can help you reduce your carbon footprint. 

We hope these 10 examples will give you ideas on how you too can decrease waste in your office.

Translate »