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Businesses Make Big Impact in Recycling

Businesses Make Big Impact in Recycling

Recycling adds up for Sandvik Mining, which employs more than 100 people at its manufacturing plant near the city of Alachua.

Sandvik recycled 15 tons of cardboard and more than 2,400 pounds of paper in 2013.

The plant earns money from much of its recycling, including 75 to 85 cents for each gallon of diesel oil. Recycling also has reduced Sandvik’s bill for disposing of waste.

“We don’t totally offset the cost of recycling, but the earnings and savings really help,” said Pam Purvis, the plant’s facilities manager.

Although Sandvik and hundreds of Alachua County businesses are onboard with recycling, some are still holding back.

With that in mind, local governments continue to inform businesses that recycling is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also mandatory under local laws.

The items businesses are required to recycle are steel and aluminum cans, plastic containers, glass, magazines, newspapers, office paper and cardboard.

Both Alachua County government and the City of Gainesville conduct recycling inspections of businesses in their jurisdictions.

Increasing commercial recycling is important because an estimated 60 percent of all waste comes from businesses and apartment complexes, said Jeff Klugh, Alachua County government’s recycling program coordinator.

Businesses hold back from recycling for two main reasons: they’re afraid it costs more than it actually does, and they don’t know their options for recycling specific materials.

Recycling officials help address both topics. That was the case with Sandvik, which asked county staff for help.

“We were able to find ways for them to save money while greatly reducing their waste stream,” Klugh said.

With the county’s assistance, Sandvik achieved impressive results from 2012 to 2013:

• The amount of material landfilled from its trash compactor dropped from 80 tons to 45 tons.

• Bailed cardboard increased from 10 tons to 16 tons.

• Recycled paper totaled 2,420 pounds.

As for finding places for recycling, city and county officials provide lists of companies that recycle a wide variety of materials.

For example, the county has connected Sandvik with Advanced Recycling to recycle plastic used in shrink-wrapping, Purvis said.

Recycling takes many forms. For example, Watson C&D landfill, located in Archer, mixes discarded produce with yard waste to create compost, said General Manager Ryan McMeekin.

The produce comes from Publix, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Winn-Dixie and the University of Florida.

“The compost holds six times its weight in water, and it makes a great soil amendment and fertilizer for golf courses, homes and businesses,” McMeekin said.

If businesses have a small amount of hazardous waste, Alachua County’s Hazardous Waste Collection program can help.

That help includes recycling hazardous waste — from chemicals to used electronic devices — as well as referring businesses to private companies that can provide the service on a larger scale.

The Hazardous Waste Collection program provides a receipt for companies that are required to document their disposal of chemicals, such as auto body shops and auto repair businesses, said Kurt Seaburg, the hazardous waste coordinator for the county’s Environmental Protection Department.

CREATING JOBS

Recycling often provides jobs for local workers. The Arc of Alachua County employs 40 people with disabilities in its e-waste recycling program, 15 in its shredding and cardboard recycling program and five in its book-recycling program.

“Our rates are super competitive, we’re keeping waste out of the landfill, and we’re fulfilling our mission of assisting people with disabilities,” said Todd Baker, Arc’s assistant director of day programs.

Businesses need to engage employees in recycling for it to succeed.

“It took a while to get our employees in the habit of recycling,” Sandvik’s Purvis said. “We learned we had to make it easy; we put containers right where everyone was working.”

Some Sandvik employees who live in rural areas were not accustomed to recycling.

“Once they got in the habit of recycling at work, they started doing it at home and taking the recycling to rural collection centers,” Purvis said.

WHY RECYCLE?

• Recycling steel requires 75 percent less energy than new steel.

• Recycling aluminum cans requires only 5 percent of the energy to produce the same amount of aluminum from scratch.

• Recycling a single glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for four hours.

• Roughly 39 percent of the U.S. waste stream is paper.

• Every ton of paper recycled saves 7,000 gallon of water and prevents 17 trees from being cut down.

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