It is no surprise that many members of the professional cleaning industry — manufacturers, distributors and contract cleaners — are playing a leadership role when it comes to recycling.
They have already made their mark as leaders when it comes to other green and environmental issues, so adding recycling to their repertoire has come naturally.
However, some JanSan players have gone far beyond recycling the usual items like paper, ink cartridges and even electronics, taking advantage of “take-back” programs offered by some electronics manufacturers.
They have investigated and analyzed their entire business operations — and for manufacturers, their manufacturing processes — looking for ways to recycle used materials, scraps, etc.
This analysis can find ways of reusing materials within an operation to help reduce the amount of new materials that must be purchased, which can help reduce cost.
Analyzing operations can also identify when waste can be sold as scrap items, helping to “recycle” these scraps into profits.
An example of the length some companies are going to in their efforts to operate more sustainably is found at Crown Mats and Matting.
Crown is one of the oldest mat manufacturing companies in the U.S.
Like other manufacturing processes, producing mats results in a considerable amount of scraps that historically were treated like waste.
In years past, much of this waste would have been placed in dumpsters and simply hauled off to landfills.
This is not sustainable, and what’s more, it’s costly.
So Crown has changed its operations.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Many of the ways Crown administrators recycle products are specific to the matting industry, but they help demonstrate the types of steps other industry players can take when they decide to get actively involved in a recycling program.
Among Crown’s recycling initiatives are the following:
- About 25,000 pounds of scrap material such as PVC*, vinyl trimmings and foam used to make some mats is trucked from the company every four to six weeks for recycling and reuse purposes.
- Cardboard boxes (along with office paper, magazines and newspaper) are recycled.
- Shipping materials are either reused or recycled with the boxes.
- Broken pallet planking, which is pieces of broken wood pallets used for delivering mats and other products, is now recycled.
- Steel from old pieces of equipment or projects that generate steel scraps goes into special containers that are picked up for recycling.
- Aluminum cans, plastic bottles and caps are recycled. Some forms of plastic bottles are recycled and can then be used to manufacture new mats.
- Used but working office equipment is given away.
As referenced earlier, many recycled products can be sold.
A Crown spokesperson verified this, saying “In some cases, we are paid by recyclers [for the recyclable items]. We often give the revenue we collect to charity, which means we even recycle what we are paid for recycling.”
Other Ways To Recycle
The many steps taken by Crown can apply to other companies in the industry.
Additional items — some a bit unusual — that can be recycled in other JanSan-related businesses include the following:
Though it’s often overlooked, many communities have light bulb recycling programs.
Parts of bulbs can be recycled, and many light bulbs contain toxins that can be harmful to the environment.
Proper recycling prevents these toxins from being released into the atmosphere.
Batteries used to power some JanSan equipment, as well as batteries used to power an array of electronics used every day are recyclable.
As with light bulbs, some communities have recycling companies that specifically recycle batteries.
Instead of tossing CDs, which is very common, they can be recycled into a fine powder that is melted down and often used in building materials.
Some offices have water dispensing systems that filter the water as it is used.
These filters are typically disposed of after a set period of time, but they can be recycled.
Often, they are turned into toothbrushes, cups and other plastic items.
Believe it or not, some recycling plants will now accept the box as long as any grease or pizza ingredients have been removed.
Typically, just wiping the box clean with a damp sponge is all that is required.
Old Product, New Uses
Another form of recycling is finding new ways to use old products.
Many organizations will accept old electronic devices including computers, printers, copiers and other items found in most office settings.
As long as they are in good working order, they are then sold to other companies or given to schools or other organizations that can benefit from them.
All this goes to show that JanSan businesses can improve their sustainability, and in so doing, reduce costs by finding innovative — and often easy and practical ways — to recycle a wide range of items used every day.
*PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a polymer used in manufacturing a variety of items, from car interiors to medical equipment.