During this time, it is especially important that we all do our part to properly manage our waste and to reduce the amount of waste we are generating wherever possible. Opportunities exist for businesses to reevaluate waste management practices and implement systems that will be beneficial environmentally and economically both now and in the future. If your business has the capacity to do so, we recommend implementing the following strategies.
Strategy #1: Donate surplus food
To keep food out of the trash and make sure it reaches people in need, surplus food can be donated via Food Connect. Use the Food Connect App on your phone or visit their website for safe and fast curbside pickup of surplus food. Food donations are transported to a local meal site, food pantry, food bank, or community shelter. This is a critical time to establish a plan to donate surplus food from your business to Philadelphians in need, and you can continue to follow a food donation plan using Food Connect far into the future. Learn more about this opportunity here.
Strategy #2: Know the recycling basics
Putting the correct items in your bin and ensuring that they are clean and dry protects sanitation workers from contamination, and streamlines waste collection and processing. Take this time to ensure you know what can and cannot go in your recycling bin. If you use City waste and recycling services, you can find up-to-date information here. If you use a private hauler, you should check their website or contact them directly for an up-to-date list of acceptable materials. No matter what service you use, recyclables should be clean and dry.
Strategy #3: Reorganize customer-facing waste receptacles
When it comes to improving their waste diversion rates, many businesses struggle with controlling customer behavior. Reorganizing customer-facing waste receptacles is one way to influence customers and employees and promote better waste separation. For example, you can:
- replace or rearrange trash and recycling bins
- add lids to bins
- update signage displayed near receptacles. The City provides free waste, recycling, and composting posters here.
Strategy #4: Reevaluate your waste and recycling
Check-in on your current waste and recycling habits. What’s going in your trash bin? Can items be replaced with a recyclable alternative or eliminated altogether? The answers to these questions could save you money in the long run. Contact your hauler to see if they are able to provide you with your recent waste collection data. Use this information to evaluate whether or not adjustments need to be made to your waste and recycling contracts. You can find additional information on working with waste haulers and conducting a waste audit here.
Strategy #5: Reevaluate your purchasing
Reevaluate items you purchase for your business and specifically look for ways to reduce in-house and customer waste. Restaurants filling increased numbers of carryout orders may consider what type of containers they use or utensils they provide:
- can customers easily compost or recycle containers?
- can you eliminate the use of plastic bags?
- can you make changes to your ordering system that require customers to specifically request utensils, condiments, or napkins?
Again, the answers to these questions could save your business money in the long run and drastically reduce your waste footprint. They additionally help customers to responsibly manage their household waste and reduce strain on waste collection services.
Strategy #6: Properly dispose of PPE
Do you use and dispose of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, or sanitizing wipes? DO NOT put them in your recycling bin or throw them in the street. You can help keep sanitation workers, recycling plant operators, and your fellow Philadelphia residents safe by placing these items in the trash in securely tied bags.
Used disinfecting wipes should also be disposed of in the trash in securely tied bags. Wipes should NOT be flushed down the toilet, as this can clog sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities, creating an additional public health risk. Even wipes labeled as “flushable” can cause damage to sewer systems and equipment, so all used wipes should be disposed of in sealed trash bags. If you compost at your business, disinfecting wipes containing bleach, detergents, or synthetic cleaners should not be composted and should go in the trash. Learn more about how to properly dispose of personal protective equipment and cleaning materials here.