Remember that the goal needs to be in sync with state and local solid waste
strategies and goals (i.e., state waste reduction goals, landfill bans,
To determine and track the success of your program, specific numerical
goals need to be established (i.e., 25% or 50% reduction per year in cubic
yards or tons, etc.). You can begin to establish your waste reduction
priorities based on criteria such as the largest volumes of waste generated or
wastes with the largest associated disposal costs.
The following three metrics, alone or in combination, can be used to
provide a complete picture of your recycling program operations.
Solid Waste Disposal: This metric is a method
to measure solid wastes disposed of in landfills and through incineration, if
applicable, in tons. The annual numbers are compared to previous years,
including the baseline year to measure performance. The desired trend is a
reduction in annual tonnage and/or cubic yards that is disposed. Increases in
disposal quantities should be examined to determine whether they were due to
ineffective programs, inaccurate baseline data, or other factors such as
changes in production processes or product mixes.
Solid Waste Generation: This metric measures
the total waste generated at the facility in tons or cubic yards. The total
waste is the sum of the disposed amount and the recycled/reused amount. The
desired trend is reduction in annual tonnage and/or cubic yards generated.
This metric allows a facility to determine the effect of their source
Recycling Percentage: This performance
indicator measures the recycled/reused amounts divided by the total waste
generation. The desired trend is an increase in the annual recycling
percentage. This indicator judges the effectiveness of the recycling
Programs that cannot document proven success will be difficult to
justify as future operating budgets are developed. Tracking and documentation
of every step of your program is important, but don't get "spooked" by this
task. Start with documenting the steps outlined in this guide and expand from
there. Learn to become very familiar with computerized spread sheets or
identify someone on your team who is. Gaining access to past landfill disposal
quantities is not difficult but separating out wastes and weights from
specific manufacturing processes, lawn care, construction/demolition debris,
etc may be more difficult. Including someone on your team from the maintenance
staff can be helpful in determining past landfill disposal totals.
You may find that removing several truck loads of packaging materials
from your waste stream only saved a ton or two in weight, but the total cubic
yards sent to the landfill was reduced greatly. Reduction of these types of
bulky waste streams may not impact total tonnage much; however, these efforts
are still great to include in your metrics. Remember that every time the
compactor goes to the landfill, it costs you money for tipping fees. Anything
that you can do to get that "lightweight, fluffy stuff" out of your waste
stream will allow the compactor to sit still for a few more days.
The decision of recycling program versus waste
minimization program ultimately needs to be supported by senior management.
Although waste minimization practices are the direction your team is striding
towards, accomplishing that goal is next to impossible without strong support
from senior management.