Small businesses embrace recycling

Published 9:03 am Thursday, December 4, 2008

Small businesses can now reduce waste costs and cut the number of recyclable materials going to landfills because of a new small business recycling program started by Freeborn County Environmental Services.

The program, which costs $50 a year, is aimed at small businesses like insurance companies, banks and other small businesses that will generate large amounts of paper products, said Colin Wittmer of Freeborn County Environmental Services. Cardboard can also be picked up as long as it is bundled and set aside.

“I guess they’re just trying to cut down on the amount of paper that goes to the landfills. Because looking at some of the statistics here, about 30 percent of the waste going into our landfills is paper that could be recycled. That’s quite a large amount, so they’re trying to do everything they can to whittle that down,” he said.

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Under the program, Waste Management will provide a 96-gallon container that they will pick up twice a month with the residential recycling routes, Wittmer said.

Mark Sanderson, of Sanderson Auto Repair/Auto Sales, which is one of the first businesses involved in the program, said the program will decrease the costs of other waste services.

“We’re looking to probably save somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 to $500 on refuse hauling per dollars a year because of the recycling process. That’s huge. That’s a huge benefit,” Sanderson said.

Other businesses currently involved in the program include Calico Hutch, Cafourek & Associates Inc. and the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, which is helping to promote the project, Wittmer said. Businesses could begin the program Dec. 1, but new businesses can join at anytime.

Businesses can also share a container with another business and split the costs as long as the combined recycling doesn’t surpass the 96-gallon container twice a month, Wittmer said.

Sanderson said these savings will also benefit customers because it lowers the cost of doing business.

Taking advantage of this recycling opportunity was an easy decision, Sanderson said.

“Recycling’s always been a big part of our business,” Sanderson said. “We recycle everything from oil filters, oil, antifreeze -all the fluids that are taken out of a car. We’ve actually had a large amount of recycling for quite a few years, but one of the things we’ve struggled with is the recycling of cardboard and paper products because we had no place to take it other than the drop site.”

In the past, similar recycling has cost too much, Sanderson said, so they would try to occasionally fill a vehicle to bring the materials to the Waste Management drop site. But this was difficult because of the complications in storing and transporting the materials, Sanderson said.

Sanderson Auto currently has two 96-gallon containers because Mark estimates they can fill two containers twice a month.

“It’s just a perfect fit,” Sanderson said of the new program. “It’s a way I can downsize the amount of refuse that’s going into the landfill and encourage recycling at our business even more so than we’re doing now.”

While many of their employees already recycle, Sanderson said they were holding a short meeting Tuesday to encourage their employees to recycle. They’ve also placed their own recycling bins around the business so employees don’t have take all their recyclables to the 96-gallon bins.

Companies can still join the recycling program and can contact the Freeborn County Environmental Services of the Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce for more information.