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Generate Revenue While Protecting the Environment

Many companies do not support a complete waste management program. Although they may have assigned a plant employee to be responsible for environmental issues, this individual is typically not familiar with all of the options that are available today for recycling and proper disposal of various materials.

A few examples include paint sludge, which can be recycled into reusable primer, manifested waste like computers, which can be salvaged for valuable metals, or items with BTU (or energy) content that can be used in cement-making operations. 

Other materials that can be recycled – often for profit - include: 

  • Plastics
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Aluminum
  • Ferrous metals, which contain iron, and non-ferrous metals
  • Copper weld tips and tools containing carbide
  • Oil-based products

Keep in mind that nearly any item is recyclable if a company is generating enough of it and on a recurring basis. Somebody can always find a way to reuse it, burn it as fuel, or put it back into an original manufacturing process.

The idea behind a total waste management program is to minimize the waste being dumped into landfills, which often prevents ground and air contamination.

Partner With a Pro

Among the best ways to find a legitimate recycling and waste management disposal company is to ask for references from industry organizations, trade associations, or various manufacturers. Ask other companies in your manufacturing field.

Before contacting any business to handle your company’s waste items, it’s important to find out what the waste material is composed of, its volume and weight, how it is packaged and how you are currently disposing of or recycling each item. These are questions recycling or waste disposal management companies will ask so they can best determine the best way to package and transport the materials. Knowing what these current costs are is important in your evaluation.

Among the first services you should expect is an onsite assessment of your materials, which can take one to two days. A company will analyze your waste materials, then provide you with the potential cost to haul them away and also the revenue stream you can expect for goods that can be recycled under current market conditions. You should expect an overall written summary or presentation of your specific situation.

In an attempt to save money, some manufacturers end up spending more money by calling consultants to perform this assessment, believing they’ll receive a more honest and objective assessment. However, consultants usually subcontract this task to a recycling and waste disposal company, so manufacturers pay more for a middleman when none is needed.

Before hiring any company to recycle or haul away your materials, keep in mind that there are many fly-by-night companies in the industry. Likewise, because of the volatile prices of commodities, some small scrap operations have filed bankruptcy, unable to pay their customers their share of the recycled goods, which usually amounts to 75 percent of the commodity’s value. In some cases, large manufacturers receive thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of dollars each month for recycled materials. So finding an experienced and legitimate vendor is important, considering the revenues that can be earned from this process.

Key questions to consider include:

  • Do they perform a free, onsite analysis of materials?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have insurance?
  • What recycling companies do they work with?
  • Are they financially stable? Many companies in the industry that are also open to the general public pay in cash, which increases opportunities for security issues. Contract with a secure company that pays by check.
  • Can they handle all of the materials at your plant or various locations?

This last tip is often overlooked. It’s much easier to work with one company rather than several that can accommodate the recycling or disposal of all your materials. That means one contact person. One monthly activity report. One monthly invoice. One monthly payment. By working with one vendor versus multiple vendors, companies streamline this often complex process, saving both time and money.

However, avoid calling a company to ask what it pays for 500 pounds of copper or 200 pounds of plastic. While important, price should never be your sole consideration. This scenario can be compared to calling up an auto dealer, asking the price of a car, but ignoring its options, the price of other cars, or the service quality of the dealership.

With all vendors, establishing a trusting relationship is key to a long-term partnership. Obtain information about a company’s entire recycling or waste management program, and then weigh the pros and cons before making any decision. 

Be Open-Minded

Some manufacturers run into trouble with employees who are stuck in neutral.

Just because your company has been recycling a product the same way for 30 years doesn’t mean it’s still the best or perhaps most efficient way today. Don’t operate in a silo.  Ask for external advice or assistance. Since the industry is constantly changing, this process requires periodic evaluations to determine if your company’s overall recycling and waste management needs are being met.

Even if your company generates a small amount of waste items each month, you can still respect the environment. Many companies bundle the same materials from a variety of customers so everyone realizes a cost savings based on volume discount.

Explore all avenues. Be creative. Seek out a partner that can give you new and improved ways to manage your company’s scrap and waste program.

Harry Park is the senior sales manager at Green Metals, Inc., an environmentally-friendly scrap metal recycling and waste handling company ( The company, which is based in Georgetown, Ky., supports 150 employees in eight locations throughout the US and Ontario, Canada.

Please contact Park at 859-867-4523 or email him at

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