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Bill Roth headshot

Build A Recycling Program to Increase Profits and Win Customers

Words by Bill Roth

There are two money-making reasons your business must recycle. First, your business is probably among the businesses that annually push $11 billion of recyclable materials out your back door into someone else’s pocket or even worse just throw away into a landfill.

Recycling makes money
There are now proven best practices for taking back the money that you now dump into a garbage can. Walmart reports making $231 million annually from diverting 80 percent of their waste stream from landfill. That is equal to the profits they make from 50 of their supercenter stores. Jeff Rice, Walmart’s Director of Sustainability perfectly captures the potential recycling offers your company, “We are making money from what we used to pay people to take away.”

This is the three-step process for taking money out of your garbage can and putting it in your pocket:

1. Know your trash
Do a trash audit to figure out what you pitch out the back door. Some of it can be sold to someone or reused again by your company. You will be surprised. Many companies make money just recovering their tools, materials and other workable assets that work associates and customers inadvertently drop into the garbage can.

2. Use free experts who can help you convert trash to cash
Most communities have local experts who will help you figure out how to make money on your trash. Because they often work for the local waste management company or your local government their expertise is free! After you have audited your trash call them and schedule an appointment.

3. Educate/motivate your associates
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard of companies that start a recycling program only to have their maintenance crews dump the separated garbage streams back into one waste container that they ship off to the landfill. Recycling is all about educating and motivating your work associates to change their behaviors. Engage them with training, provide them performance feedback and reward them for results.

Win customers by recycling
The second reason to recycle is it will win customers for your business. The recycling logo is one of the most recognized and trusted brands in the United States. Having recycling containers in front of your business will convey a trustworthy first impression for new customers. It will reinforce confidence with existing customers that they are giving their business to a company that acts responsibly. Offering free recycling is also a high value, high credibility path for pulling customers inside your business location. Best Buy and Staples are two of a growing number of businesses that use recycling to create traffic flow inside their stores. Imagine recycling high value content items like electronics or aluminum that pays you through recycling income to increase your customer traffic flows!

Earth911 is a valuable resource for recycling best practices. They work with companies of all sizes and offer a ton of free insights on their website. The following exclusive interview with Jennifer Berry of Earth911 conducted at Sustainable Brands 2012 profiles some of the recycling best practices your business can implement that will put money in your pocket typically within 90 days or less.


Bill Roth is the Founder of Earth 2017. His book The Secret Green Sauce profiles best practices of businesses making money going green. Visit his YouTube channel Earth2017TV to view more video interviews of business owners and leaders on how they make money using sustainable best practices.

Bill Roth headshotBill Roth

Bill Roth is a cleantech business pioneer having led teams that developed the first hydrogen fueled Prius and a utility scale, non-thermal solar power plant. Using his CEO and senior officer experiences, Roth has coached hundreds of CEOs and business owners on how to develop and implement projects that win customers and cut costs while reducing environmental impacts. As a professional economist, Roth has written numerous books including his best selling The Secret Green Sauce (available on Amazon) that profiles proven sustainable best practices in pricing, marketing and operations. His most recent book, The Boomer Generation Diet (available on Amazon) profiles his humorous personal story on how he used sustainable best practices to lose 40 pounds and still enjoy Happy Hour!

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