Wildflowers bloom in the Sierra Nevada
Wildflowers bloom in the Sierra Nevada

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Commercial Recycling

Frequently Asked Questions

Many businesses and industries are interested in recycling as part of their sustainability efforts. In Washoe County, commercial recycling is strongly encouraged and can be achieved. The following information provides initial guidance to begin the process.

Any waste material that has an end use or can be re-processed into a usable material, product or item. This includes, but is not limited to, food waste, aluminum, glass, yard debris, plastic, office paper, etc. Additionally, this includes any solid waste that can be processed and used as a feedstock for energy generation. Not all recyclable materials can be recycled in Washoe County due to lack of markets, availability of necessary collection services, etc. Prior to recycling any material, it is important to identify the method of transportation and the final processing location.
Waste that is to be sent for resource recovery or recycling must be separated at the site of generation. For example, if your business generates glass and aluminum cans and you want to recycle it, the glass and aluminum must separated from your other solid waste. Once separated, the recyclable materials (e.g., glass and aluminum cans) must be placed in a container for collection by a waste hauler permitted to collect and transport recyclable materials.
There is no easy answer to this question. Recyclable materials are subject to the same supply and demand limitations faced by most businesses. Flux in the market for recyclable materials has a major impact on their value. Some recyclable materials have enough value that a permitted waste hauler will collect them for free or even pay for the material. Other recyclable materials may have a low value, requiring the permitted waste hauler to charge you a nominal fee to collect them. As with most resources, collection and transportation costs may offset any profit that could be realized from recycling.
There are environmental benefits to recycling that are well documented. For example, paper recycling has greatly reduced the need to harvest virgin timber to make paper products. Instead, waste paper is re-processed and used in the manufacturing of new paper. Thus, the act of recycling promotes efficient and cost effective use of solid waste without depleting limited natural resources. This effort also limits environmental degradation that often results when extracting or harvesting virgin raw materials.

Another benefit can be realized by promoting the fact that your business recycles. Sustainability, responsible use of resources and commitment to community can be featured as part of an advertising campaign. Further, many residents are demonstrating a preference for businesses that actively recycle. Finally, by reducing the overall amount of waste that must be disposed, your business may reduce the cost for disposal. For example, if a business currently uses a six (6) yard dumpster, but can divert 20 – 30% of their waste to recycling, a four (4) yard dumpster would be adequate, resulting in lowered cost for service to the dumpster.
No. In fact, commercial recycling has been excluded from franchise agreements to allow for private enterprise to expand recycling opportunities.
For more detailed information, please contact the Washoe County Health District, Environmental Health Services Division at (775) 328-2434. The staff assigned to the Waste Management Program can answer your questions and provide more information.

Additional materials on waste reduction and proper waste management (including hazardous waste) can be obtained from the University of Nevada, Reno Small Business Development Center, Business Environmental Program at http://nsbdc.org/