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Recycling at Work - Measuring Your Progress

Measuring your progress will help you track your company's performance and give staff and management concrete proof of the efforts. Some jurisdictions also require businesses to report recycling data annually.

Determine Your Recycling and Garbage Quantities
Using the three steps below, calculate how much you recycle each month.

  1. Determine the size of your outdoor recycling container(s). To get this information, look in your monthly invoices/reports or call your recycling collection service.
  2. Determine the number of times your outdoor recycling container is emptied each month.
  3. Calculate your monthly recycling quantity.

For example, if your recycling container is eight cubic yards and it is emptied four times each month, you recycle 32 cubic yards per month (8 x 4 = 32).

To determine the volume of garbage disposed by your organization each month, use the same three steps above, using your garbage container(s) instead of recycling container(s).

Determine Your Recycling Rate
Divide your monthly recycling quantity by the total amount of solid waste you generate. Use the same unit(s) of measurement (gallons, yards, pounds or tons) for both recyclables and garbage. If your recycling quantity is four cubic yards per month and your garbage quantity is six cubic yards per month, then your organization generates ten cubic yards of solid waste per month, and its recycling rate is 40 percent.

percent recycled = [pounds recycled / (pounds recycled + pounds garbage)] x 100 40% = [4 / (4 + 6) ] x 100

Calculating Waste Generation per Employee
Another way to assess your waste reduction and recycling efforts is to monitor the amount of waste generated and waste disposed (garbage) per employee. The end result (numbers) will vary considerably from one business type to another. The important thing to pay attention to is what your numbers do over time. The more efficiently a business uses its raw materials (including office paper), the less it wastes. The calculations necessary for monitoring waste generation per employee are presented below.

waste generated per employee = pounds of waste generated / number of employees

waste disposed per employee = pounds of waste disposed / number of employees

The key to this calculation is understanding the difference between waste generated and waste disposed. Waste generated includes all solid waste materials that a facility is not able to incorporate into their internal processes and thus must be sent out as either garbage or recyclables. Waste disposed includes only that portion of the waste that is being disposed as garbage (going to a landfill).

Remember, the goal of this calculation is to provide you with information that can guide your company's internal policy. This information will most likely not result in data that can be compared or applied to that of another business, unless that business is in the same industry.

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