As a generator, you may hear other companies talk about their waste diversion rate and ways their number gives them an edge in the market. A waste diversion rate, sometimes called a landfill diversion rate, is a sustainability measure of how much waste your company keeps out of landfills. That is, a total calculation of the amount of waste your company reduces, reuses or recycles.
A strong waste diversion rate results in many benefits including saving your company money, creating goodwill with customers, helping the environment and sometimes even exempting a business from RCRA regulations by eliminating hazardous waste generation. Many organizations have noted the alarming annual increase the Environmental Protection Agency reports of the amount of waste being dumped into landfills. Responsible, savvy businesses have developed waste management hierarchies to help their organizations toward the most sustainable waste management methods, thereby improving their bottom line. But is your company’s waste diversion rate important enough to deserve your valuable focus and attention?
Why should my company improve its waste diversion rate?
Simply put, your company cannot afford to ignore its waste diversion rate. All businesses generate waste, whether it is RCRA or non-RCRA, liquid, sludge or gas, wastewater or paper waste. But many companies are failing to take full advantage of the benefits of reuse and recycling programs – and are losing potential profits. Today, just over half of all U.S. garbage is buried in landfills, while just a third is recycled. In Wisconsin alone, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported over 31.7 million tons of industrial waste was dumped into landfills in 2018. Clearly, some companies are missing out. Those who dedicate some time and thought to their waste diversion rate stand to gain several benefits to their bottom line.
Benefits of landfill diversion.
There are several benefits to a strong landfill diversion rate, including:
- Preserving the environmental
- Protecting human health
- Strengthening professional reputation
- Appealing to environmentally-conscious consumers
- Gaining government incentives
- Creating Jobs
- Driving profitability
The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. When companies strive toward pollution prevention, they protect and conserve valuable natural resources. In the long run, landfills can create high costs for the environment and the public. Environmental impact from landfills depends on how well they are managed, but consequences of poorly managed landfills may include contaminated soil and groundwater from toxic residues, disease-carrying pests, harm to wildlife, and the release of methane into the atmosphere, which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Additionally, all landfills occupy a limited resource: land. In the U.S., states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island report a mere 12 remaining years of landfill capacity and so opt to ship their waste to other states, costing valuable time, money and resources.
While these consequences impact human and environmental health, they also ultimately affect your company’s bottom line. In a 2013 study by MIT, 37 percent of companies who implemented sustainable practices into their business model reported a profit from their efforts. The report called these companies, "Sustainability-Driven Innovators," and included corporations like AT&T, Campbell Soup Co., Dell and more. Companies stand to gain a stronger professional reputation by working to recycle, reduce and reuse their industrial waste rather than simply sending it to a landfill. Potential customers and clients, other businesses, members in the local community and the government take note of companies who use landfill diversion tactics, and benefits and incentives exist for those that do.
Around the world, countries are seeing the economic benefits of landfill diversion and are implementing landfill bans and zero landfill goals. Eight member states in Europe plus Switzerland and Norway now landfill less than 10 percent of their waste. The EPA notes the economic benefits of recycling in the U.S., including creating 1.57 jobs, $76,000 in wages, and $14,101 in tax revenues for every 1,000 tons of materials recycled, and rewards companies who are working to solve the landfill problem. To realize these benefits, consider working with landfill diversion experts like those at Enviro-Safe Resource Recovery, who understand the industry and can help you take full advantage of the benefits.