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Practical Source Reduction Tips for Business

Preventing wastes, maximizing resources and increasing efficiency can give your company a competitive edge. You can take positive action now by implementing source reduction.
Images of paper recycling
  • Source reduction is any activity that prevents the creation of solid waste at the point of generation.
  • Source reduction happens at the earliest possible stages of production, manufacturing and packaging processes.
  • Source reduction activities should be integrated with reuse and recycling programs.

For Management . . .

  • Develop a written source reduction policy and adopt a corporate ethic that encourages source reduction and other environmental practices.
  • Take a look at how your business produces waste each day and identify the types and amounts of waste produced.
  • Have brainstorming sessions to generate ideas on how to prevent waste. Reward good suggestions.

For Packaging . . .

  • Avoid overpackaging.
  • Ship your products on returnable or reusable pallets and containers.
  • Minimize packaging waste as much as possible.

Purchasing Practices . . .

  • Examine your production and purchasing procedures to see where wastes can be prevented.
  • Adopt procurement polices that promote source reduction.
  • Revise procurement specifications for supplies and materials to ensure that the products bought are produced and packaged with source reduction in mind.
  • Consider cooperative purchases with other businesses to reduce price and packaging wastes.
  • Buy supplies in bulk, larger sizes or in concentrated form.

In Your Office . . .

  • Institute double-sided (duplex) copying to reduce paper use and mailing costs.
  • Use alternatives to paper communication, such as voice mail and e-mail.
  • Use routing slips to circulate memos, documents, periodicals and reports.
  • Post nonurgent communications for general distribution on bulletin boards.
  • Cull mailing lists to remove uninterested recipients and eliminate unwanted mail by notifying the sender.
  • Proofread documents on the computer screen before printing.
  • Eliminate unnecessary forms, reports and publications.

In the Snack Rooms and Cafeterias . . .

  • Encourage employees to use china or reusable plates, cutlery, glasses and coffee mugs.
  • Install cloth towel rolls or air dries in restrooms.

For Customers . . .

  • Let people know about your source reduction programs.

More Questions. ..

Call or write the Bureau of Waste Reduction & Recycling at:
NYSDEC
Bureau of Waste Reduction and Recycling
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7253
(518) 402-8706


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  • NYSDEC
    Division of Materials Management
    Bureau of Waste Reduction & Recycling
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-7253
    518-402-8706
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